In the chamber of death underground,
Came these words to touch men to the heart,
Bring tears to the eyes, and a sound
Of a sorrow that strikes like a dart.
Hear you not that low wail coming through
The death-gloom of that chamber so grim?
'I was thinking of Michael and you
When the others were singing a hymn.
'I thought—not of death that would come—
It was nothing, dear wife, unto me;
I was thinking of you and our home,
And how little Michael would be.
My God, what a fate we can view
In this deep vault that drips like our tears!
But still I was thinking of Michael and you,
With the sound of a hymn in my ears.
'Then I thought I would meet him above,
Both at once enter in at the gate,
Clasp his hand, hear his whisper of love,
With no hint of the earth and my fate,
Lead him into the light of that land,
Where no shadow may enter to dim—
All this in the midst of a band
Of my mates who were singing a hymn.
'Oh, pray for me, wife, when at night
Our children climb up on your knee;
When the hearth is still dark from the blight,
Oh, teach them a prayer for me!
Let their voices go up to our God,
Who through this dark shadow can see;
He will hear from the heights of His sinless abode
Their prayers for you and for me.
'Farewell! and afar in the years
That will deaden thy sorrow's deep smart,
And thine eyes only soften with tears
When my name stirs and leaps at thy heart,
You will say, when you think upon me
And this death-cavern, rugged and grim,
'He was thinking how Michael would be
When the others were singing a hymn.''
Oh, fathers and mothers that peer
Down into that terrible mine,
See ye not, far too deep for a tear,
A love that was almost divine?
That father, waiting for death to come,
But still, in the midst of his fears,
Thinking of poor little Michael at home,
With the sound of a hymn in his ears.