The Only Child
by Lydia Howard Sigourney
I saw the wrinkled and care-written brows
Of the gold-seekers, -- and the throngs intent
On idle pleasure. -- and the youthful bands
Who gathering round their teachers, wisely sought
The gifts of science, or the arts that lend
Embellishment to life.
Yet, one there was,
One lonely teacher, in her quiet home,
Who taught the harder lesson, how to die.
Gentle and fair she was, -- the only child
Of loving parents, and had early sate
At her redeemer's feet, and learned his word.
Hence, gain'd her pallid lip such eloquence
That fired the lustrous eye with holier light
As of the joy she spake that fills the soul
When earth recedes, and how her blessed Lord
Seem'd ever near to comfort her, when pain
Wrought at her heart, and how the shadowy vale
Glow'd with his guiding presence.
For absent friends, and warnings to the young
To seek their Saviour, ere the day of gloom,
She wrapp'd in tender words, more precious still
For their faint breath, that show'd with gasp and sigh,
The time was short.
Yet, one long week she sate
In the cold arms of death, and told what peace
The trusting christian hath, -- when flesh and heart
Then was silence, for her work was done,
And with a smile that on the marble brow
Like silent angel, finish'd what she left
Unsaid, she clos'd her lesson how to die.
What said we? how to die? Nay, -- how to live!
To enter on a being without end,
A boundless bliss, unutter'd, unconceiv'd.
Oh beautiful and glorious, thou art gone
Unto the lov'd and perfect, who embrac'd
Thee at Heaveu's gate. Still, dost thou backward turn
Beckoning the tender parent guides who liv'd
Here, in thy life; -- and oft, at hush of eve,
Or in the wakeful midnight hour, thy voice
Shall speak to them, when none beside may hear
Sweet words, to gird them on their way to thee.
Source:The Weeping Willow
Henry S. Parsons, Hartford.