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My listening heart takes up the strain,
And gives it to the night again,
Fitted with words of lowly praise,
And patience learned of mournful days,
And memories of the dead child's ways.
His will be done, his will be done !
Who gave and took away my son,
In the “far land’ to shine and sing
Before the Beautiful, the King,
Who every day doth Christmas make,
All starred and belled for Charlie's sake.
For Charlie's sake I will arise ;
I will anoint me where he lies,
And change my raiment, and go in
To the Lord's house, and leave my sin
Without, and seat me at his board,
Eat, and be glad, and praise the Lord.
For wherefore should I fast and weep,
And sullen moods of mourning keep ?
I cannot bring him back, nor he,
For any calling, come to me.
The bond the angel Death did sign,
God sealed-for Charlie's sake and mine.
I'm very poor—this slender stone
Marks all the narrow field I own;
Yet, patient husbandman, I till,
With faith and prayers, that precious hill,
Sow it with penitential pains,
And, hopeful, wait the latter rains;
Content if, after all, the spot
Yield barely one forget-me-not-
Whether or figs or thistles make
My crop, content for Charlie's sake.
I have no houses, builded well —
Only that little lonesome cell,
Where never romping playmates come,
Nor bashful sweethearts, cunning-dumb-
An April burst of girls and boys,
Their rainbowed cloud of glooms and joys
Born with their songs, gone with their toys;
Nor ever is its stillness stirred
By purr of cat, or chirp of bird,
Or mother's twilight legend, told
Of Horner's pie, or Tiddler's gold,
Or fairy hobbling to the door,
Red-cloaked and weird, banned and poor,
To bless the good child's gracious eyes,
The good child's wistful charities,
And crippled changeling's hunch to make
Dance on his crutch, for good child's sake.
How is it with the child ? 'Tis well;
Nor would I any miracle
Might stir my sleeper's tranquil trance,
Or plague his painless countenance :
I would not any seer might place
His staff on my immortal's face,
Or lip to lip, and eye to eye,
Charm back his pale mortality.
No, Shunamite! I would not break
God's stillness. Let them weep who wake ;
For Charlie's sake my lot is blest:
No comfort like his mother's breast,
No praise like hers; no charm expressed
In fairest forms hath half her zest.
For Charlie's sake this bird's caressed,
That death left lonely in the nest ;
For Charlie's sake my heart is dressed,
As for its birthday, in its best ;
For Charlie's sake we leave the rest
To Him who gave, and who did take,
80 And saved us twice, for Charlie's sake.
John Williamson Palmer.
THE LEGEND OF THE STEPMOTHER.
As I lay asleep, as I lay asleep,
Under the grass as I lay so deep,
As I lay asleep in my cotton sirk
Under the shade of Our Lady's Kirk,
I wakened up in the dead of night,
I wakened up in my death-sirk white,
And I heard a cry from far away,
And I knew the voice of my daughter May.
Mother, mother, come hither to me!
Mother, mother, come hither and see!
Mother, mother, mother dear,
Another mother is sitting here :
My body is bruised, and in pain I cry ;
On straw in the dark afraid I lie ;
I thirst and hunger for drink and meat,
And, mother, mother, to sleep were sweet!'
I heard the cry, though my grave was deep,
And awoke from sleep, and awoke from sleep.
I awoke from sleep, I awoke from sleep,
Up I rose from my grave so deep !
The earth was black, but overhead
The stars were yellow, the moon was red;
And I walked along all white and thin,
And lifted the latch and entered in,
And reached the chamber as dark as night,
And though it was dark, my face was white.
Mother, mother, I look on thee!
Mother, mother, you frighten me!
For your cheeks are thin, and your hair is gray.'
But I smiled, and kissed her fears away,
I smoothed her hair, and I sang a song,
And on my knee I rocked her long:
O mother, mother, sing low to me ;
I am sleepy now, and I cannot see!'
I kissed her, but I could not weep,
35 And she went to sleep, she went to sleep. As we lay asleep, as we lay asleep, My May and I, in our grave so deep, As we lay asleep in the midnight mirk, Under the shade of Our Lady's Kirk,
40 I wakened up in the dead of night, Though May, my daughter, lay warm and white, And I heard the cry of a little one, And I knew 'twas the voice of Hugh my son. Mother, mother, come hither to me!
45 Mother, mother, come hither and see ! Mother, mother, mother dear, Another mother is sitting here : My body is bruised and my heart is sad, But I speak my mind and call them bad;
50 I thirst and hunger night and day, And were I strong I would fly away!' I heard the cry, though my grave was deep, And awoke from sleep, and awoke from sleep. I awoke from sleep, I awoke from sleep,
55 Up I rose from my grave so deep; The earth was black, but overhead The stars were yellow, the moon was red; And I walked along all white and thin, And lifted the latch and entered in.
60 • Mother, mother, and art thou here? I know your face, and I feel no fear;
Raise me, mother, and kiss my cheek,
For oh I am weary, and sore, and weak.'
I smoothed his hair with a mother's joy,
Änd he laughed aloud, my own brave boy;
I raised and held him on my breast,
Sang him a song and bade him rest.
• Mother, mother, sing low to me;
I am eepy now, and I cannot see!'
I kissed him, and I could not weep,
As he went to sleep, as he went to sleep.
As I lay asleep, as I lay asleep,
With my girl and boy in my grave so deep,
As I lay asleep, I awoke in fear,
Awoke, but awoke not my children dear,
And heard a cry so low and weak
From a tiny voice that could not speak;
I heard the cry of a little one,
My bairn that could neither talk nor run,
My little little one, uncaressed,
Starving for lack of the milk of the breast;
And I rose from sleep and entered in,
And found my little one pinched and thin,
And crooned a song and hushed its moan,
And put its lips to my white breast-bone;
And the red, red moon that lit the place
Went white to look at the little face,
And I kissed and kissed, and I could not weep,
As it went to sleep, as it went to sleep.
As it lay asleep, as it lay asleep,
I set it down in the darkness deep,
Smoothed its limbs and laid it out,
And drew the curtains around about;
Then into the dark, dark room I hied,
Where he lay awake at the woman's side,