All night long, by a distant bell
The passing hours were notched
On the dark, while her breathing rose and fell;
And the spark of life I watched
In her face was glowing, or fading,—who could tell?—
And the open window of the room,
With a flare of yellow light,
Was peering out into the gloom,
Like an eye that searched the night.
Oh, what do you see in the dark, little window,
and why do you peer?
“I see that the garden is crowded with creeping forms of fear:
Little white ghosts in the locust-tree, wave in the night-wind’s breath,
And low in the leafy laurels the lurking shadow of death."
Sweet, clear notes of a waking bird
Told of the passing away
Of the dark,—and my darling may have heard;
For she smiled in her sleep, while the ray
Of the rising dawn spoke joy without a word,
Till the splendour born in the east outburned
The yellow lamplight, pale and thin,
And the open window slowly turned
To the eye of the morning, looking in.
Oh, what do you see in the room,
little window, that makes you so
“I see that a child is asleep on her pillow, soft and white:
With the rose of life on her lips, the pulse of life in her breast,
And the arms of God around her, she quietly takes her rest."
Neuilly, June, 1909.
The day returns by which we date our years:
Day of the joy of giving,—that means love;
Day of the joy of living,—that means hope;
Day of the Royal Child,—and day that brings
To older hearts the gift of Christmas tears!
Look, how the candles twinkle through
The children shout when baby claps his hands,
The room is full of laughter and of song!
Your lips are smiling, dearest,—tell me why
Your eyes are brimming full of Christmas tears?
Was it a silent voice that joined the
A vanished face that glimmered once again
Among the happy circle round the tree?
Was it an unseen hand that touched your cheek
And brought the secret gift of Christmas tears?
Not dark and angry like the winter storm
Of selfish grief,—but full of starry gleams,
And soft and still that others may not weep,—
Dews of remembered happiness descend
To bless us with the gift of Christmas tears.
Ah, lose them not, dear heart,—life
has no pearls
More pure than memories of joy love-shared.
See, while we count them one by one with prayer,
The Heavenly hope that lights the Christmas tree
Has made a rainbow in our Christmas tears!