THE CRADLE TOMB IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
A little, rudely sculptured bed,
With shadowing folds of marble lace,
And quilt of marble, primly spread
And folded round a baby’s face.
Smoothly the mimic coverlet,
With royal blazonries bedight,
Hangs, as by tender fingers set
And straightened for the last good-night.
And traced upon the pillowing stone
A dent is seen, as if to bless
The quiet sleep some grieving one
Had leaned, and left a soft impress.
It seems no more than yesterday
Since the sad mother down the stair
And down the long aisle stole away,
And left her darling sleeping there.
But dust upon the cradle lies,
And those who prized the baby so,
And laid her down to rest with sighs,
Were turned to dust long years ago.
Above the peaceful pillowed head
Three centuries brood, and strangers peep
And wonder at the carven bed,—
But not unwept the baby’s sleep,
For wistful mother-eyes are blurred
With sudden mists, as lingerers stay,
And the old dusts are roused and stirred
By the warm tear-drops of to-day.
Soft, furtive hands caress the stone,
And hearts, o’erleaping place and age,
Melt into memories, and own
A thrill of common parentage.
Men die, but sorrow never dies;
The crowding years divide in vain,
And the wide world is knit with ties
Of common brotherhood in pain;
Of common share in grief and loss,
And heritage in the immortal bloom
Of Love, which, flowering round its cross,
Made beautiful a baby’s tomb.
“OF SUCH AS I HAVE.”
Love me for what I am, Love. Not for sake
Of some imagined thing which I might be,
Some brightness or some goodness not in me,
Born of your hope, as dawn to eyes that wake
Imagined morns before the morning break.
If I, to please you (whom I fain would please),
Reset myself like new key to old tune,
Chained thought, remodelled action, very soon
My hand would slip from yours, and by degrees
The loving, faulty friend, so close to-day,
Would vanish, and another take her place,—
A stranger with a stranger’s scrutinies,
A new regard, an unfamiliar face.
Love me for what I am, then, if you may;
But, if you cannot,—love me either way.
All sweet and various things do lend themselves
And blend and intermix in her rare soul,
As chorded notes, which were untuneful else,
Clasp each the other in a perfect whole.
Within her spirit, dawn, all dewy-pearled,
Seems held and folded in by golden noons,
While past the sunshine gleams a further world
Of deep star-spaces and mysterious moons.