To F. W. N. A Birthday Offering Poem by John Henry Newman

To F. W. N. A Birthday Offering

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Dear Frank, this morn has usher'd in
The manhood of thy days;
A boy no more, thou must begin
To choose thy future ways;
To brace thy arm, and nerve thy heart,
For maintenance of a noble part.

And thou a voucher fair hast given,
Of what thou wilt achieve,
Ere age has dimm'd thy sun-lit heaven,
In weary life's chill eve;
Should Sovereign Wisdom in its grace
Vouchsafe to thee so long a race.

My brother, we are link'd with chain
That time shall ne'er destroy;
Together we have been in pain,
Together now in joy;
For duly I to share may claim
The present brightness of thy name.

My brother, 'tis no recent tie
Which binds our fates in one,
E'en from our tender infancy
The twisted thread was spun;—
Her deed, who stored in her fond mind
Our forms, by sacred love enshrined.

In her affection all had share,
All six, she loved them all;
Yet on her early-chosen Pair
Did her full favour fall; [Note]
And we became her dearest theme,
Her waking thought, her nightly dream.

Ah! brother, shall we e'er forget
Her love, her care, her zeal?
We cannot pay the countless debt,
But we must ever feel;
For through her earnestness were shed
Prayer-purchased blessings on our head.

Though in the end of days she stood,
And pain and weakness came,
Her force of thought was unsubdued,
Her fire of love the same;
And e'en when memory fail'd its part,
We still kept lodgment in her heart.

And when her Maker from the thrall
Of flesh her spirit freed,
No suffering companied the call,
—In mercy 'twas decreed,—
One moment here, the next she trod
The viewless mansion of her God.

Now then at length she is at rest,
And, after many a woe,
Rejoices in that Saviour blest
Who was her hope below;
Kept till the day when He shall own
His saints before His Father's throne.

So it is left for us to prove
Her prayers were not in vain;
And that God's grace-according love
Has come as gentle rain, {15}
Which, falling in the vernal hour,
Tints the young leaf, perfumes the flower.

Dear Frank, we both are summon'd now
As champions of the Lord;—
Enroll'd am I, and shortly thou
Must buckle on thy sword;
A high employ, nor lightly given,
To serve as messengers of heaven!

Deep in my heart that gift I hide;
I change it not away
For patriot-warrior's hour of pride,
Or statesman's tranquil sway;
For poet's fire, or pleader's skill
To pierce the soul and tame the will.

O! may we follow undismay'd
Where'er our God shall call!
And may His Spirit's present aid
Uphold us lest we fall!
Till in the end of days we stand,
As victors in a deathless land.

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