Aged ten years.
Who that has seen some household idol fade
Like opening bud before the chilling blast,
Can faintly know His sufferings when He said,
' If Thou wilt, Father, let this cup be passed.'
And whosoever, when that life hath fled,
Can bow submissively and drain the cup,
And cry, 'Thy will be done,' though Hope has fled,
Has faith enough through life to bear her up.
I knelt beside her and, despairing, prayed;
Her little, pleading voice caught up the strain:
' Oh, spare me, Father, for her sake,' she said;
' Give me back life and strength and love again! '
' Or if, my Father, it seems best to Thee
From future woe to take my treasured one,
Do as Thou wilt, for Thou alone canst see:
Give me but faith to cry, ' Thy will be done! ' '
I rose and kissed her while she faintly smiled;
Her breath grew shorter and her pulse beat low;
' The morning dawneth; 'tis thy birthday, child!
God gave thee to me just ten years ago.
Thy father laid thee in these waiting arms
Amid the shadows of the morning dim,
And now, with all thy childhood's added charms,
I yield, and give thee back to God and him.'
The dying grasp was tightened round my own,
As if to bear me with her in her flight;
' Thou'rt going, love,' I said, 'but not alone:
He bears thee -upward to the world of light.
Thy mother's voice shall be the last on earth
To soothe her darling ere the cord is riven,
And, at thy spirit's new and glorious birth,
Thy father's first to welcome thee to heaven.'
Thus she went from us in the morning gray,
Her earthly and her heavenly birthday one;
Leaving behind her only pulseless clay,
And a crushed heart to cry, 'Thy will be done.'
We robed her, as she said, in spotless white,
And lifted grandma for a parting kiss;
Then bore the lovely burden from her sight
And bade the children come. How they would miss
The kindling eye, the earnest, welcoming voice,
The hand's warm pressure, and the beaming smile!
But they all gathered there, both girls and boys,
And as they stood around, and gazed, the while,
I bade them sing the songs she loved so well:
Their Sabbath greetings and their closing lays;
And, as their trembling accents rose and fell,
I felt an angel voice had joined their praise.
'Twas her delight in concert thus to meet
The children in the Sabbath morning's glow;
To sit and learn with them the story sweet
How Jesus came to bless them here below.
And can it be that never, never more,
Her joyful voice will join the sacred songs?
That not till I have reached the shining shore
My ear will catch the tone for which it longs?
Yet hush! sad heart! my loss is her release!
What is the school below to that above?
How will our Sabbaths here compare in peace
With that serener day that dawns above?
What melody, what cadence half so sweet
As swells when angel-fingers sweep the strings?
What prayers, with such adoring love replete,
As when the seraphs bow with folded wings?
While here, she loved each prophet's life to trace,
And tell of all the trials they had passed;
But there, she sits with Moses, face to face,
In the fair Canaan that was his at last.
And father Abraham will not pass her by:
I thought of Isaac all the night she died,
And asked, as searchingly I turned my eye,
If aught for my pet lamb might be supplied.
O holy Samuel, guide her o'er the strands,
And through the Heavenly Temple, large and fair,
Because the picture of thy clasped hands
In early childhood bowed her soul in prayer.
Show her where Daniel sits,—where David sings,
In loftier measure, more seraphic Psalms,
Then lead her gently to the King of kings,
Who bade His children here to ' Feed His lambs.'
And, mother Mary, I must plead with thee
Sometimes to clasp her to thy loving breast;
Else her fond, yearning heart will long for me,
Though heaven be gained and all its joys possessed.
Not to the Virgin Mary do I kneel;
Not to the holy saint my numbers flow;
But to the mother, whose true heart can feel,
Because it once ensured a kindred woe.
And, Maymie, when thy golden harp is tried,
When strains of love fall sweetly from thy tongue,
Fold thy white wings, and at thy Saviour's side
Let the wild yearnings of thy heart be sung.
Kneel, darling, kneel, and ask for what thou wilt
I know the wish e'en angels may not smother:
Not to be made more free from sin and guilt,
But that thy mission be to guard thy mother.
And if my spirit falter ere this cup
Of bitterness be drained—this large supply,
Reach down thy little hands and hold me up,
Else I must wholly sink, and, helpless, die.
Yes, darling, pray! thy earnest voice can plead
That on thy viewless pinions thou may'st come,
To hover near, in this my greatest need,
And then be near, at last, to guide me home.
Oh! man may climb the topmost round of fame,
And smile in triumph on the rocky steep;
In characters of blood may write his name,
While woman's portion is to watch and weep.
Yet who would barter all the love that glows
With quenchless fervor in a mother's heart,
E'en though that love be bought with anguish-throes,
For all that man can reach or wealth impart?
And even though, like mine, her hopes be crushed,
Her blossom blighted and her day-star fled,
Though the glad voice is here forever hushed,
And the sweet lips that sang all cold and dead,—
'Tis not in hopeless grief her head is bowed,
'Tis not in wild despair she meets His will;
For, mounting past the coffin and the shroud,
Her soul is mother of an angel still.
How saintly was the look her features wore
Before I saw the coffin-lid go down!
That marble brow, I kissed it o'er and o'er,
And left my tears among her tresses brown.
That cold, cold cheek! Those lips, so pale and still,
Would never more unto mine own be pressed;
Those little hands, so quick to do my will,
Were crossed and quiet on a silent breast.
Oh! be ye guarded what ye do or say
Before a mother when her child is dead;
Move with hushed tread beside the pulseless clay,
And in low whispers let your words be said.
Remember of her life it was a part;
Remember it was nourished at her breast;
That she would guard it still from sudden start,
The ringing footfalj, or untimely jest.
We bore her back to the old home she left
With strange reluctance only months before;
How doubly there my poor heart seemed bereft
To miss her smiling welcome at the door!
The constant feet that used to stand and wait
To welcome me were gone: I could not see
Her form come bounding through the wicket-gate,
Or hear her tones of joyful, childish glee.
We moved the sod from off her father's breast,
And laid her down to her serene repose;
Upon his bosom she will sweetly rest,
As withered bud beside the parent rose.
Together may their dust be mingled there,
E'en as their souls are knit beyond the tide!
Together may their deathless spirits share
The boundless glory of the Other Side!
Kate Harrington's Other Poems
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