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That babe or mother, one must die ;
So in mercy left the stock
And cut the branch ; to save the shock
Of young years widow'd, and the pain
When Single State comes back again
To the lone man who, reft of wife,
Thenceforward drags a maiméd life?
The economy of Heaven is dark,
And wisest clerks have miss'd the mark
Why human buds, like this, should fall
More brief than fly ephemeral
That has his day; while shrivell’d crones
Stiffen with age to stocks and stones ;
And crabbed use the conscience sears
In sinners of an hundred years.
- Mother's prattle, mother's kiss,
Baby fond, thou ne'er wilt miss :
Rites, which custom does impose,
Silver bells, and baby clothes;
Coral redder than those lips
Which pale death did late eclipse ;
Music framed for infants' glee,
Whistle never tuned for thee;
Though thou want'st not, thou shalt have them,
Loving hearts were they which gave them.
Let not one be missing ; nurse,
See them laid upon the hearse
Of infant slain by doom perverse.
Why should kings and nobles have
Pictured trophies to their grave,
And we, churls, to thee deny
Thy pretty toys with thee to lie -
A more harmless vanity ?
W Where art thou, worse to me than dead!
CCXXXVIII THE AFFLICTION OF MARGARET
HERE art thou, my beloved Son,
O find me, prosperous or undone !
Or if the grave be now thy bed,
Why am I ignorant of the same
That I may rest; and neither blame
Nor sorrow may attend thy name?
Seven years, alas ! to have received
No tidings of an only child —
To have despair'd, have hoped, believed,
And be for evermore beguiled
Sometimes with thoughts of very bliss !
I catch at them, and then I miss ;
Was ever darkness like to this?
He was among the prime in worth,
An object beauteous to behold;
Well born, well bred; I sent him forth
Ingenuous, innocent, and bold :
If things ensued that wanted grace,
As hath been said, they were not base;
And never blush was on my face.
Ah ! little doth the young one dream,
When full of play and childish cares,
What power is in his wildest scream
Heard by his mother unawares !
He knows it not, he cannot guess ;
Years to a mother bring distress;
But do not make her love the less.
Where the lamps quiver
So far in the river,
With many a light
From window and casement,
From garret to basement,
She stood with amazement,
Houseless by night.
The bleak wind of March
Made her tremble and shiver ;
But not the dark arch,
Or the black flowing river:
Mad from life's history,
Glad to death's mystery
Swift to be hurl'd-
Out of the world!
In she plunged boldly,
No matter how coldly
The rough river ran,
Over the brink of it,
Picture it, think of it,
Dissolute Man !
Lave in it, drink of it,
Then, if you can !
Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care ;
Fashion'd so slenderly,
Young, and so fair !
Ere her limbs frigidly
Stiffen too rigidly,
Smooth, and compose them;
And her eyes, close them,
Staring so blindly !
Thro' muddy impurity,
As when with the daring
Last look of despairing
Fix'd on futurity.
Spurr'd by contumely
Into her rest.
Cross her hands humbly
As if praying dumbly,
Over her breast !
Owning her weakness,
Her evil behaviour,
And leaving, with meekness,
Her sins to her Saviour !
On thee shall press no ponderous tomb; But on thy turf shall roses rear Their leaves, the earliest of the year, And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom :
W Their place ye may not well supply,
And oft by yon blue gushing stream
Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head,
And feed deep thought with many a dream,
And lingering pause and lightly tread;
Fond wretch ! as if her step disturb’d the dead !
Away! we know tha tears are vain,
That Death nor heeds nor hears distress :
Will this unteach us to complain ?
Or make one mourner weep the less?
And thou, who tellst me to forget,
Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.
HEN maidens such as Hester die
Though ye among a thousand try
With vain endeavour.
A month or more hath she been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed
And her together.
A springy motion in her gait,
A rising step, did indicate
Of pride and joy no common rate
That flush'd her spirit :
I know not by what name beside
I shall it call : if 't was not pride,
It was a joy to that allied
She did inherit.