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Mid the sinless little children,
Who have heard his 'Come to me!'
Even with the certainty of marring the exquisite beauty of this little poem, I have ventured to substitute for the fifth stanza, as it stands in the original, another, whose poetic merit consists only in what it has borrowed from that, but which seems to me to convey a truer sentiment with regard to that solemn event, which, as the greatest, must be the most beautiful, circumstance of our earthly lot; and to invest which with images of gloom and terror seems as much at variance with the trustful spirit of Christianity, as it is accordant with the practice of Christendom. Such a stanza as this fails to express our best thought:
'Twas even then Destruction's angel
On our lintel set his sign;
FOR many an anxious, weary day
For here disease has set its seal,
And slowly from the features steal
Each beam, each radiant
The languid form, the drooping eye,
And while we watch her fluttering breath,
To bear her soul away.
All tenderest thoughts are inly stirred,
That He, who watches over all,
And sees the sparrows when they fall,
And save this gentle babe from death,
But see! a light is round her playing,
'Tis seen-and vanished now.
Does some kind spirit whisper there
And bliss to be revealed?
From our dull sense concealed?
We may not pierce the thoughts which lie, Deep hidden in their mystery,
Within the infant soul;
Nor search among the treasures rare
That token-smile may dimly show
If, trustless, we in anguish sore
LINES TO MY CHILDREN.*
My babes! no more I'll behold ye!
How with many a pang he is saddened,
For the eight human blossoms that gladdened
Has seen them all shrink from his grasp;
Departed the crown of his glory;
No wife and no children to clasp.
Ah! all the dear names I have uttered,
In a mood that sheds tears while it blesses;
The kisses so fond I have given,
The plump little arm's cleaving twine, The bright eye, whose language was heaven, The rose on the cheek pressed to mine;
Its warmth that seemed pregnant with spirit ;The little feet's fond interlacing,
While others pressed forward to inherit
The breast that with pleasure was troubled
Since no words were to speak it availing, Till the bliss of the heart was redoubled
As in smiles on the lips 'twas exhaling;
The girl, who to sleep when consigned,
The promised kiss still recollected; And no sleep on her pillow could find
If her father's farewell were neglected ;
Who asked me, when infancy's terrors
On my cheek tears of penitence shed;
More pure e'en than smiles without sin, Since they mark with what delicate sentence Childhood's conscience pronounces within ;
The dear little forms, one by one,
Some in beds closely-coupled half sleeping,— While the cribbed infant nestled alone
Whose heads, at my coming, all peeping,
Betrayed that the pulse of each heart
Of my foot's stealing fall knew the speech; While all would not let me depart,
Till the kiss was