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Perchance the years have changed her: yet
alone This picture lingers : still she seems to me The fair, young Angel of my infancy.
Edmund Clarence Stedman
He sang so wildly, did the Boy,
That you could never tell
If ’t was a madman's voice you heard,
Or if the spirit of a bird
Within his heart did dwell:
A bird that dallies with his voice
Among the matted branches ;
Or on the free blue air his note
To pierce, and fall, and rise, and float,
With bolder utterance launches,
None ever was so sweet as he,
The boy that wildly sang to me;
Though toilsome was the way and long,
He led me not to lose the song.
But when again we stood below
The unhidden sky, his feet
Grew slacker, and his note more slow,
But more than doubly sweet.
He led me then a little
Athwart the barren moor,
And then he stayed and bade me stay
Beside a cottage door;
I could have stayed of mine own will,
In truth, my eye and heart to fill
With the sweet sight which I saw there,
At the dwelling of the cottager.
A little in the doorway sitting,
The mother plied her busy knitting,
And her cheek so softly smiled,
You might be sure, although her gaze
Was on the meshes of the lace,
Yet her thoughts were with her child.
But when the boy had heard her voice,
As o'er her work she did rejoice,
His became silent altogether,
And slily creeping by the wall
He seiz'd a single plume, let fall
By some wild bird of longest feather;
And all a-tremble with his freak,
He touch'd her lightly on the cheek.
Oh, what a loveliness her eyes
Gather in that one moment's space,
While peeping round the post she spies
Her darling's laughing face!
Oh, mother's love is glorifying,
On the cheek like sunset lying ;
In the eyes a moisten'd light,
Softer than the moon at night!
A WIDOW,- she had only one!
A puny and decrepit son;
But, day and night,
Though fretful oft, and weak and small,
A loving child, he was her all, -
The Widow's Mite.
The Widow's Mite - aye, so sustain'd,
She battled onward, nor complain'd
Though friends were fewer :
And while she toil'd for daily fare,
A little crutch upon the stair
Was music to her.
I saw her then, and now I see
That, though resign'd and cheerful, she
Has sorrow'd much:
She has, — He gave it tenderly,-
Much faith, and, carefully laid by,
A little crutch.
This, then, is she,
My mother as she looked at seventeen,
When she first met my father. Young in-
Younger than spring, without the faintest
trace Of disappointment, weariness, or tear Upon the childlike earnestness and grace Of the waiting face. Those close-wound ropes of pearl (Or common beads made precious by their
use) Seem heavy for so slight a throat to wear; But the low bodice leaves the shoulders bare And half the glad swell of the breast, for news That now the woman stirs within the girl.
Even so, the loops and globes
Of beaten gold
Hung, in the stately way of old,
From the ears' drooping lobes
On festivals and Lord's-day of the week,
Show all too matron-sober for the cheek,
Which, now I look again, is perfect child,
Or no --- or no — 't is girlhood's very self,
Moulded by some deep, mischief-ridden elf
So meek, so maiden mild,
But startling the close gazer with the sense
Of passion forest-shy and forest-wild,
And delicate delirious merriments.
As a moth beats sidewise
And up and over, and tries
To skirt the irresistible lure
Of the flame that has him sure,
My spirit, that is none too strong to-day,
Flutters and makes delay, -
Pausing to wonder at the perfect lips,
Lifting to muse upon the low-drawn hair
And each hid radiance there,
But powerless to stem the tide-race bright,
The vehement peace which drifts it toward
the light Where soon
ah, now, with cries Of grief and giving-up unto its gain It shrinks no longer nor denies, But dips Hurriedly home to the exquisite heart of
pain, And all is well, for I have seen them plain, The unforgettable, the unforgotten eyes! Across the blinding gush of these good tears They shine as in the sweet and heavy years When by her bed and chair We children gathered jealously to share The sunlit aura breathing myrrh and thyme, Where the sore-stricken body made a clime Gentler than May and pleasanter than rhyme, Holier and more mystical than prayer.
. God, how thy ways are strange! That this should be, even this, The patient head Which suffered years ago the dreary change!