Then, sitting down, I hid my face; but this
Only increased the dread; and so I gazed
With open eyes into my dream again.
The mists had thickened, and had grown quite black
Over the sun; and darkness closed round me.
(Thy father said it thundered towards the morn.)
But soon, far off, I saw a dull green light
Break though the clouds, which fell across the earth,
Like death upon a bad man’s upturned face.
Sudden it burst with fifty forked darts
In one white flash, so dazzling bright it seemed
To hide the landscape in one blaze of light.
When the loud crash that came down with it had
Rolled its long echo into stillness, through
The calm dark silence came a plaintive sound;
And, looking towards the tree, I saw that it
Was scorched with the lightning; and there stood
Close to its foot a solitary sheep
Bleating upon the edge of a deep pit,
Unseen till now, choked up with briars and thorns;
And into this a little snow white lamb,
Like to thine own, had fallen. It was dead
And cold, and must have lain there very long;
While, all the time, the mother had stood by,
Helpless, and moaning with a piteous bleat.
The lamb had struggled much to free itself,
For many cruel thorns had torn its head
And bleeding feet; and one had pierced its side,
From which flowed blood and water. Strange the things
We see in dreams, and hard to understand;—
For, stooping down to raise its lifeless head,
I thought it changed into the quiet face
Of my own child. Then I awoke, and saw
The dim moon shining through the watery clouds
On thee awake within thy little bed.”
Then Jesus, looking up, said quietly:
“We read that God will speak to those he loves
Sometimes in visions. He might speak to thee
Of things to come his mercy partly veils
From thee, my mother; or perhaps, the thought
Floated across thy mind of what we read
Aloud before we went to rest last night;—
I mean that passage in Isaias’ book,
Which tells about the patient suffering lamb,
And which it seems that no one understands.”
Then Mary bent her face to the child’s brow,
And kissed him twice, and, parting back his hair,
Kissed him again. And Jesus felt her tears
Drop warm upon his cheek, and he looked sad
When silently he put his hand again
Within his mother’s. As they came, they went,
Hand in hand homeward.
With Mary and with Joseph, till the time
When all the things should be fulfilled in him
Which God had spoken by his prophets’ mouth
Long since; and God was with him, and God’s grace.
I looked for that which is not, nor can
And hope deferred made my heart sick, in truth;
But years must pass before a hope of youth
Is resigned utterly.