George MacDonald

(10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

The Wakeful Sleeper - Poem by George MacDonald

When things are holding wonted pace
In wonted paths, without a trace
Or hint of neighbouring wonder,
Sometimes, from other realms, a tone,
A scent, a vision, swift, alone,
Breaks common life asunder.

Howe'er it comes, whate'er its door,
It makes you ponder something more-
Unseen with seen things linking:
To neighbours met one festive night,
Was given a quaint and lovely sight,
That set some of them thinking.

They stand, in music's fetters bound
By a clear brook of warbled sound,
A canzonet of Haydn,
When the door slowly comes ajar-
A little further-just as far
As shows a tiny maiden.

Softly she enters, her pink toes
Daintily peeping, as she goes,
Her long nightgown from under.
The varied mien, the questioning look
Were worth a picture; but she took
No notice of their wonder.

They made a path, and she went through;
She had her little chair in view
Close by the chimney-corner;
She turned, sat down before them all,
Stately as princess at a ball,
And silent as a mourner.

Then looking closer yet, they spy
What mazedness hid from every eye
As ghost-like she came creeping:
They see that though sweet little Rose
Her settled way unerring goes,
Plainly the child is sleeping.

'Play on, sing on,' the mother said;
'Oft music draws her from her bed.'-
Dumb Echo, she sat listening;
Over her face the sweet concent
Like winds o'er placid waters went,
Her cheeks like eyes were glistening.

Her hands tight-clasped her bent knees hold
Like long grass drooping on the wold
Her sightless head is bending;
She sits all ears, and drinks her fill,
Then rising goes, sedate and still,
On silent white feet wending.

Surely, while she was listening so,
Glad thoughts in her went to and fro
Preparing her 'gainst sorrow,
And ripening faith for that sure day
When earnest first looks out of play,
And thought out of to-morrow.

She will not know from what fair skies
Troop hopes to front anxieties-
In what far fields they gather,
Until she knows that even in sleep,
Yea, in the dark of trouble deep,
The child is with the Father.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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