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To meet him coming; theirs through every year Pure transports, such as each to each endear! And laughing eyes and laughing voices fill Their home with gladness. She, when all are still, Comes and undraws the curtain as they lie, In sleep how beautiful! He, when the sky Gleams, and the wood sends up its harmony, When, gathering round his bed, they climb to share His kisses, and with gentle violence there Break in upon a dream not half so fair, Up to the hill-top leads their little feet; Or by the forest-lodge, perchance to meet The stag-herd on its march, perchance to hear The otter rustling in the sedgy mere ; Or to the echo near the Abbot's tree, That gave him back his words of pleasantry When the House stood, no merrier man than he! And, as they wander with a keen delight, If but a leveret catch their quicker sight Down a green alley, or a squirrel then Climb the gnarled oak, and look and climb again, If but a moth Alit by, an acorn fall, He turns their thoughts to Him who made them all ;
These with unequal footsteps following fast,
These clinging by his cloak, unwilling to be last.
The shepherd on Tornaro's misty brow,
And the swart seaman, sailing far below,
Not undelighted watch the morning ray
Purpling the orient—till it breaks away,
And burns and blazes into glorious day!
But happier still is he who bends to trace
That sun, the soul, just dawning in the face ;
The burst, the glow, the animating strife,
The thoughts and passions stirring into life ;
The forming utterance, the inquiring glance,
The giant waking from his tenfold trance,
Till up he starts as conscious whence he came,
And all is light within the trembling frame !
What then a Father's feelings? Joy and Fear
In turn prevail, Joy most; and through the year
Tempering the ardent, urging night and day
Him who shrinks back or wanders from the way,
Praising each highly—from a wish to raise
Their merits to the level of his Praise,
Onward in their observing sight he moves,
Fearful of wrong, in awe of whom he loves !
Their sacred presence who shall dare profane ?
Who, when He slumbers, hope to fix a stain ?
He lives a model in his life to show,
That, when he dies and through the world they go,
Some men may pause and say, when some admire,
• They are his sons, and worthy of their sire !"
But man is born to suffer. On the door
Sickness has set her mark; and now no more
Laughter within we hear, or wood-notes wild
As of a mother singing to her child.
All now in anguish from that room retire,
Where a young cheek glows with consuming fire,
And Innocence breathes contagion—all but one,
But she who gave it birth—from her alone
The medicine-cup is taken. Through the night,
And through the day, that with its dreary light
Comes unregarded, she sits silent by,
Watching the changes with her anxious eye:
While they without, listening below, above,
(Who but in sorrow know how much they love ?)
From every little noise catch hope and fear,
Exchanging still, still as they turn to hear,
Whispers and sighs, and smiles all tenderness,
That would in vain the starting tear repress.