The mother she took a wax taper,
And of it a heart she makes
“Give that to the Mother of Jesus,
She will cure thee of all thy aches.”
With a sigh her son took the wax heart,
He went to the shrine with a sigh;
His words from his heart trickle sadly,
As trickle the tears from his eye.
“Thou blest above all that are blest,
Thou virgin unspotted divine,
Thou Queen of the Heavens, before thee
I lay all my anguish and pine.
“I lived with my mother at Koeln,
At Koeln in the town that is there,
The town that has hundreds many
Of chapels and churches fair.
“And Gretchen she lived there near
But now she is dead, well-a-day!
O Mary! a wax heart I bring thee,
Heal thou my heart’s wound, I pray!
“Heal thou my heart of its anguish,
And early and late, I vow,
With its whole strength to pray and to sing, too,
‘Ever honored, O Mary, be thou!’”
The suffering son and his mother
In their little bed-chamber slept;
Then the Mother of God came softly,
And close to the sleepers crept.
She bent down over the sick one,
And softly her hand did lay
On his heart, with a smile so tender,
And presently vanished away.
The mother sees all in her dreaming,
And other things too she marked;
Then up from her slumber she wakened,
So loudly the town dogs barked.
There lay her son, to his full length
Stretched out, and he was dead;
And the light on his pale cheek flitted
Of the morning’s dawning red.
She folded her hands together,
She felt as she knew not how,
And softly she sang and devoutly,
“Ever honored, O Mary, be thou!”
* * * * *
THE RETURN HOME (1823-24)
Once upon my life’s dark pathway
Gleamed a phantom of delight;
Now that phantom fair has vanished,
I am wholly wrapt in night.
Children in the dark, they suffer
At their heart a spasm of fear;
And, their inward pain to deaden,
Sing aloud, that all may hear.
I, a madcap child, now childlike
In the dark to sing am fain;
If my song be not delightsome,
It at least has eased my pain.
We sat at the fisherman’s cottage,
And gazed upon the sea;
Then came the mists of evening,
And rose up silently.
The lights within the lighthouse
Were kindled one by one,
We saw still a ship in the distance
On the dim horizon alone.
We spoke of tempest and shipwreck,
Of sailors and of their life,
And how ’twixt clouds and billows
They’re tossed, ’twixt joy and strife.