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TO A LADY,
ON THE DEATH OF HER MOTHER AND DAUGHTER.
SARA,—so let me call thee, since that name
So shy, he would and yet would not be seen.
ON THE DEATH OF THOMAS JACKSON,
LATE OF LOW WOOD INN, WHO DIED BY
FALL FROM AN APPLE TREE.
THERE is the lake and there the quiet hills,
A casual passer would observe no change; Nor sign would see of widow's grief that kills
Even Nature's joy, and makes old beauty strange.
The last time I beheld thee, lovely lake,
Thou wert composed in that expectant calm, Which any sigh of love-sick maid might shake,
Or dying close of penitential psalm.
I thought of Death. Who doth not think of Death ?
And felt how sweet a boon that death might be, Were it indeed a calm to feel the breath
Whene'er it came of stirring Deity.
I thought of Death. But did not think how near
That awful sound to its most awful meaning; The babe that feels its mother's breast so near,
Slumbers and sucks and never dreams of weaning.
And even so we thought his honest face
Would ever greet us when we came again; It seemed a natural product of the place,
Warmed by the sun and freshened by the rain.
But he is gone, the form we long have seen,
The vivid image that we bore away,
The spectre of a body in decay.
The lake is there, the hills their distance keep,
The tall trees stand as if they mourned for ever, But leave the widowed house alone to weep,
Nor seek the widowed heart from grief to sever.
For he is gone that was to us a smile,
An honest face to welcome when he came; Short was the time, but yet a weary while
When Death was struggling with the shattered frame. And many thoughts he had, as may be guessed,
And shows of earth that with the vision blended; Shows that at times perplexed, but later blessed
The spirit equipped just ere the strife was ended.
Perhaps the latest object to employ
His parting thought upon the death-bed pillow, Was the dear image of his orphan hoy,
With small foot challenging the frisky billow.
Whatever sight or sound possessed him last,
Whatever sound of nature tolled his knell, Gentle the sounds and fair the forms that past
Before his closing eye, and all was well.
Yes, all was well, for 'twas the will of Him,
Who knows both when to sow and when to reap; And now amid the smiling cherubim,
Beholds the tears of them he bad to weep.
False is the creed, because the heart is dead,
That blames the widow's or the orphan's tear; Eyes that beheld the Lord full oft were red
With human sorrow while they tarried here.