The little live son he sighed apart,
“Oh, brother, ye live,” quoth he,
“In my mother’s grief and my mother’s heart
And my mother’s memory.
“And vain for thee is my mother’s cry,”
The little live son hath said,
“For ye are loved and ye may not die—
It is only I who am dead!”
When all but her were sleeping fast,
And the night was nearly fled,
The little dead child came up the stair
And stood by his mother’s bed.
“Ah, God!” she cried, “the nights
And yet I have not slept!”
The little dead child he sat him down,
And sank his head and wept.
“And is it thou, my little dead child,
Come in from out the storm?
Ah, lie thou back against my heart,
And I will keep thee warm!”
That is long ago, mother,
Long and long ago!
Shall I grow warm who lay three nights
Beneath the winter snow?
* * * * *
“Hast thou not heard the old nurse weep?
She sings to us no more;
And thy brothers leave the broken toys
And whisper in the door.”
That is far away, mother,
Far and far away!
Above my head the stone is white.
My hands forget to play.
* * * * *
“What wilt thou then, my little dead child,
Since here thou may’st not lie?
Ah, me! that snow should be thy sheet,
And winds thy lullaby!”
Down within my grave, mother,
I heard, I know not how,
"Go up to God, thou little child,
Go up and meet him now!"
That is far to fare, mother,
Far and far to fare!
I come for thee to carry me
The way from here to there.
“Oh, hold thy peace, my little dead child.
My heart will break in me!
Thy way to God thou must go alone,
I may not carry thee!”
* * * * *
The cock crew out the early dawn
Ere she could stay her moan;
She heard the cry of a little child,
Upon his way alone.
They say the night has fallen chill—
But I know naught of mist or rain,
Only of two small hands that still
Beat on the darkness all in vain.
They say the wind blows high and wild
Down the long valleys to the sea;
But I can only hear the child,
Who weeps in darkness, wanting me.
Beyond the footfalls in the street,
Above the voices of the bay,
I hear the sound of little feet,
Two little stumbling feet astray.
Oh, loud the autumn wind makes moan,
The desolate wind about my door,
And a little child goes all alone
Who never was alone before.