Frances Anne Kemble

(27 November 1809 - 15 January 1893 / London, England)

Lines On A Sleeping Child - Poem by Frances Anne Kemble

O child! who to this evil world art come,
Led by the unseen hand of Him who guards thee,
Welcome unto this dungeon-house, thy home!
Welcome to all the woe this life awards thee!
Upon thy forehead yet the badge of sin
Hath worn no trace; thou look'st as though from heaven,
But pain, and guilt, and misery lie within;
Poor exile! from thy happy birth-land driven.
Thine eyes are sealed by the soft hand of sleep,
And like unruffled waves thy slumber seems;
The time's at hand when thou must wake to weep,
Or sleeping, walk a restless world of dreams.
How oft, as day by day life's burthen lies
Heavier and darker on thy fainting soul,
Wilt thou towards heaven turn thy weary eyes,
And long in bitterness to reach the goal!

How oft wilt thou, upon Time's flinty road,
Gaze at thy far-off early days, in vain!
Weeping, how oft wilt thou cast down thy load,
And curse and pray, then take it up again!
How many times shall the fiend Hope extend
Her poisonous chalice to thy thirsty lips!
How oft shall Love its withering sunshine lend,
To leave thee only a more dark eclipse!
How oft shall Sorrow strain thee in her grasp,—
How oft shall Sin laugh at thine overthrow—
How oft shall Doubt, Despair, and Anguish clasp
Their knotted arms around thine aching brow!
O living soul, hail to thy narrow cage!
Spirit of light, hail to thy gloomy cave!
Welcome to longing youth, to loathing age,
Welcome, immortal! welcome to the grave!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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