* * * * *
[Footnote 1: Suggested by a drawing in the possession of Charles Aders, Esq., in which is represented the legend of a poor female Saint; who, having spun past midnight, to maintain a bedrid mother, has fallen asleep from fatigue, and Angels are finishing her work. In another part of the chamber, an angel is tending a lily, the emblem of purity.]
This rare tablet doth include
Poverty with sanctitude.
Past midnight this poor maid hath spun,
And yet the work is not half done,
Which must supply from earnings scant
A feeble bedrid parent’s want.
Her sleep-charged eyes exemption ask,
And Holy hands take up the task;
Unseen the rock and spindle ply,
And do her earthly drudgery.
Sleep, saintly poor one! sleep, sleep on;
And, waking, find thy labors done.
Perchance she knows it by her dreams;
Her eye hath caught the golden gleams,
Angelic presence testifying,
That round her everywhere are flying;
Ostents from which she may presume,
That much of heaven is in the room.
Skirting her own bright hair they run,
And to the sunny add more sun:
Now on that aged face they fix,
Streaming from the Crucifix;
The flesh-clogg’d spirit disabusing,
Death-disarming sleeps infusing,
Prelibations, foretastes high,
And equal thoughts to live or die.
Gardener bright from Eden’s bower,
Tend with care that lily flower;
To its leaves and root infuse
Heaven’s sunshine, Heaven’s dews.
’Tis a type, and ’tis a pledge,
Of a crowning privilege.
Careful as that lily flower,
This maid must keep her precious dower;
Live a sainted maid, or die
Martyr to virginity.
* * * * *
ON AN INFANT DYING AS SOON AS BORN.
I saw where in the shroud did lurk
A curious frame of Nature’s work.
A flow’ret crushed in the bud,
A nameless piece of Babyhood,
Was in her cradle-coffin lying;
Extinct, with scarce the sense of dying:
So soon to exhange the imprisoning womb
For darker closets of the tomb!
She did but ope an eye, and put
A clear beam forth, then straight up shut
For the long dark: ne’er more to see
Through glasses of mortality.
Riddle of destiny, who can show
What thy short visit meant, or know
What thy errand here below?
Shall we say, that Nature blind
Check’d her hand, and changed her mind,
Just when she had exactly wrought
A finish’d pattern without fault?
Could she flag, or could she tire,
Or lack’d she the Promethean fire
(With her nine moons’ long workings sicken’d)
That should thy little limbs have quicken’d?