Ah well! I would not overstate that woe,
For I have had some blessings, little care;
But since the falling of that heavy blow,
God’s earth has never seemed to me so fair;
Nor any of his creatures so divine,
Nor sleep so sweet;—the word was—EGLANTINE.
Living child or pictured cherub,
Ne’er o’ermatched its baby grace;
And the mother, moving nearer,
Looked it calmly in the face;
Then with slight and quiet gesture,
And with lips that scarcely smiled,
Said—“A Portrait of my daughter
When she was a child.”
Easy thought was hers to fathom,
Nothing hard her glance to read,
For it seemed to say, “No praises
For this little child I need:
If you see, I see far better,
And I will not feign to care
For a stranger’s prompt assurance
That the face is fair.”
Softly clasped and half extended,
She her dimpled hands doth lay:
So they doubtless placed them, saying—
“Little one, you must not play.”
And while yet his work was growing,
This the painter’s hand hath shown,
That the little heart was making
Pictures of its own.
Is it warm in that green valley,
Vale of childhood, where you dwell?
Is it calm in that green valley,
Round whose bournes such great hills swell?
Are there giants in the valley—
Giants leaving footprints yet?
Are there angels in the valley?
Tell me—I forget.
Answer, answer, for the lilies,
Little one, o’ertop you much,
And the mealy gold within them
You can scarcely reach to touch;
O how far their aspect differs,
Looking up and looking down!
You look up in that green valley—
Valley of renown.
Are there voices in the valley,
Lying near the heavenly gate?
When it opens, do the harp-strings,
Touched within, reverberate?
When, like shooting-stars, the angels
To your couch at nightfall go,
Are their swift wings heard to rustle?
Tell me! for you know.
Yes, you know; and you are silent,
Not a word shall asking win;
Little mouth more sweet than rosebud,
Fast it locks the secret in.
Not a glimpse upon your present
You unfold to glad my view;
Ah, what secrets of your future
I could tell to you!
Sunny present! thus I read it,
By remembrance of my past:—
Its to-day and its to-morrow
Are as lifetimes vague and vast;
And each face in that green valley
Takes for you an aspect mild,
And each voice grows soft in saying—
“Kiss me, little child!”
As a boon the kiss is granted:
Baby mouth, your touch is sweet,
Takes the love without the trouble
From those lips that with it meet;
Gives the love, O pure! O tender!
Of the valley where it grows,
But the baby heart receiveth
MORE THAN IT BESTOWS.