And I should fear, but lo! amid the press,
The whirl and hum and pressure of my day,
I hear Thy garment’s sweep, Thy seamless dress,
And close beside my work and weariness
Discern Thy gracious form, not far away,
But very near, O Lord, to help and bless.
The busy fingers fly, the eyes may see
Only the glancing needle which they hold,
But all my life it, blossoming inwardly,
And every breath is like a litany,
While through each labor, like a thread of gold,
Is woven the sweet consciousness of Thee.
Ah! grown a dim and fairy shade,
Dear child, who, fifteen years ago,
Out of our arms escaped and fled
With swift white feet, as if afraid,
To hide beneath the grass, the snow,
that sunny little head.
This is your birthday! Fair, so fair,
And grown to gracious maiden-height,
And versed in heavenly lore and ways;
White-vested as the angels are,
In very light of very light,
Somehow, somewhere, you keep the day
With those new friends, whom “new”
But who are dearer now than we,
And better known by fate and name:
And do they smile and say, “How tall
The child becomes, how radiant, she
Who was so little when she came!”
Darling, we count your eighteen years,—
Fifteen in Heaven, on earth but three,—
And try to frame you grown and wise:
But all in vain; there still appears
Only the child you used to be,
Our baby with the violet eyes.
A grievous day of wrathful winds,
Of low-hung clouds, which scud and fly,
And drop cold rains, then lift and show
A sullen realm of upper sky.
The sea is black as night; it roars
From lips afoam with cruel spray,
Like some fierce, many-throated pack
Of wolves, which scents and chases prey.
Crouched in my little wind-swept nook,
I hear the menacing voices call,
And shudder, as above the deck
Topples and swings the weltering wall.
It seems a vast and restless grave,
Insatiate, hungry, beckoning
With dreadful gesture of command
To every free and living thing.
“O Lord,” I cry, “Thou makest
And hope and all sweet things to be;
Rebuke this hovering, following Death,—
This horror never born of Thee.”
A sudden gleam, the waves light up
With radiant momentary hues,—
Amber and shadowy pearl and gold,
Opal and green and unknown blues,—
And, rising on the tossing walls,
Within the foaming valleys swung,
Soft shapes of sea-birds, dimly seen,
Flutter and float and call their young,
A moment; then the lowering clouds
Settle anew above the main,
The colors die, the waves rise higher,
And night and terror rule again.