Sarah Orne Jewett

(1849-1909 / the USA)

A Child's Grave - Poem by Sarah Orne Jewett

More than a hundred years ago
    They raised for her this little stone;
'Miss Polly Townsend, aged nine,'
    It says, is sleeping here alone.

'Twas hard to leave your merry mates
    For ranks of angels robed and crowned,
To sleep until the judgment day
    In Copp's Hill burying-ground.

You must have dreaded heaven then—
    A solemn doom of endless rest,
Where white-winged seraphs tuned their harps—
    You surely liked this life the best!

The gray slate headstones frightened you,
    When from Christ Church your father brought
You here on Sunday afternoon,
    And told you that this world was nought;

And you spelled out the carven names
    Of people who beneath the sod,
Hidden away from mortal eyes,
    Were at the mercy of their God.

You had been taught that He was great—
    You only hoped He might be good—
An awful thought that you must join
    This silent neighborhood!

Did you grow up to womanhood
    In Heaven, and did you soon lose sight,
Because you are so happy there,
    Of this world's troubles infinite?

No one remembers now the day
    They buried you on Copp's Hill-side;
No one remembers you, or grieves
    And misses you, because you died.

I see the grave and serious men
    And pious women, meek and mild,
Walk two by two in company,
    The mourners for this little child.

The harbor glistened in the sun;
    The bell in Christ Church steeple tolled;
And all her playmates cried for her—
    Miss Polly Townsend, nine years old.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 3, 2010

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