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The pulse first caught its tiny stroke,
The blood its crimson hue, from mine : This life which I have dared invoke,
Henceforth is parallel with thine.
A silent awe is in my room,
I tremble with delicious fear;
The future, with its light and gloom,
Time and Eternity are here.
Doubts, hopes, in eager tumult rise ;
God! one earnest prayer: Room for my bird in Paradise,
And give her angel plumage there !
My boy, as gently on my breast,
From infant sport, thou sink'st to rest,
And on my hand I feel thee put,
In playful dreams, thy little foot ;
The thrilling touch sets every string
Of my full heart to quivering ;
For ah! I think, what chart can show
The ways through which this foot may go ?
Its print will be, in childhood's hours,
Traced in the garden, round the flowers ;
But youth will bid it leap the rills,
Bathe in the dew on distant hills,
Roam o'er the vales, and venture out
When riper years would pause and doubt ;
Nor brave the pass, nor try the brink,
Where youth's unguarded foot may sink.
But what, when manhood tints thy cheek,
Will be the ways this foot will seek?
Is it to lightly pace the deck,
Helpless to slip from off the wreck ?
Or wander o'er a foreign shore,
Returning to thy home no more,
Until the bosom now thy pillow
Is low and cold beneath the willow ?
Or, is it for the battle-plain,
Beside the slayer and the slain ?
Wilt there its final step be taken ?
There, sleep thine eye no more to waken ?
Is it to glory or to shame, -
To sully or to gild thy name?
Is it to happiness or woe
This little foot is made to go?
But wheresoe'er its lines may fall,
Whether in cottage or in hall,
O, may it ever shun the ground
Where'er His foot was never found,
Who on his path of life hath shed
A living light, that all may tread
Upon his earthly steps; and none
E'er dash the foot against a stone !
Which would a mother value most, the most elegant pair of Parisian slippers, or a little worn-out shoe, once filled with a precious infant foot, now walking with the angels ?
When first thou camest, gentle, shy, and fond,
My eldest born, first hope, and dearest treasure,
My heart received thee with a joy beyond
All that it yet had felt of earthly pleasure :
Nor thought that any love again might be
So deep and strong as that I felt for thee.
Faithful and true, with sense beyond thy years,
And natural piety that leaned to heaven ;
Wrung by a harsh word suddenly to tears,
Yet patient of rebuke when justly given,
Obedient, easy to be reconciled,
And meekly cheerful, - such thou wert, my child !
Not willing to be left; still by my side,
Haunting my walks, while summer day was dying,
Nor leaving in thy turn ; but pleased to glide
Through the dark room where I was sadly lying:
Or by the couch of pain a sitter meek,
Watch the dim eye, and kiss the feverish cheek.
O boy! of such as thee are oftenest made
Earth's fragile idols; like a tender flower,
No strength in all thy freshness,
prone to fade,
And bending weakly to the thunder-shower,
Still round the loved thy heart found force to bind,
And clung like woodbine shaken in the wind !
But thou, my merry love, bold in thy glee,
Under the bough, or by the firelight dancing,
With thy sweet temper and thy spirits free,
Didst come as restless as a bird's wing glancing,
Full of a wild and irrepressible mirth,
Like a young sunbeam to the gladdened earth!
Thine was the shout! the song ! the burst of joy !
Which sweet from childhood's rosy lip resoundeth ;
Thine was the eager spirit naught could cloy,
And the glad heart from which all grief reboundeth ;
And many a mirthful jest and mock reply
Lurk in the laughter of thy dark blue eye !
And thine was many an art to win and bless,
The cold and stern to joy and fondness warming ;
The coaxing smile, the frequent soft caress,
The earnest, tearful prayer all wrath disarming ;