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James Grahame

(1765-1811 / Scotland)

To My Son


Twice has the sun commenced his annual round,
Since first thy footsteps totter'd o'er the ground,
Since first thy tongue was tuned to bless mine ear,
By faltering out the name to fathers dear.
O! Nature's language, with her looks combined,
More precious far than periods thrice refined!
O! sportive looks of love, devoid of guile,
I prize you more than Beauty's magic smile;
Yes, in that face, unconscious of its charm,
I gaze with bliss, unmingled with alarm.
Ah, no! full oft a boding horror flies
Athwart my fancy, uttering fateful cries.
Almighty Power! his harmless life defend,
And if we part, 'gainst me the mandate send.
And yet a wish will rise, - would I might live,
Till added years his memory firmness give!
For, O! it would a joy in death impart,
To think I still survived within his heart;
To think he'll cast, midway the vale of years,
A retrospective look, bedimm'd with tears;
And tell, regretful, how I look'd and spoke;
What walks I loved; where grew my favourite oak;
How gently I would lead him by the hand;
How gently use the accent of command;
What lore I taught him, roaming wood and wild,
And how the man descended to the child;
How well I loved with him, on Sabbath morn,
To hear the anthem of the vocal thorn;
To teach religion, unallied to strife,
And trace to him the way, the truth, the life.

But, far and farther still my view I bend, -
And now I see a child thy steps attend; -
To yonder churchyard-wall thou takest thy way,
While round thee, pleased, thou seest the infant play;
Then lifting him, while tears suffuse thine eyes,
Pointing, thou tell'st him,
There thy grandsire lies!

Submitted: Saturday, September 04, 2010
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