The Mother's Prayer
by Theodore Tilton
With eager arms a mother pressed
A laughing babe against her breast.
Then thus to Heaven she cried in prayer:
Now even as his face is fair,
O Lord! keep Thou his soul within
As free from any spot of sin.
From heaven the Lord an answer made:
Behold! I grant as thou hast prayed.
Within her door the darkness crept,
And babe and mother sweetly slept.
The belfry rang the midnight bell;
The watchman answered,
All is well.
The mother, by the cradle-side,
Awoke to find the babe had died.
With grief to set a woman wild,
She caught and clasped the marble child, --
Until her heart against his own
Was broken, beating on a stone!
O God! she cried, in her despair,
Why hast thou mocked a mother's prayer?
Then answered He,
As I have willed,
Thy prayer, O woman! is fulfilled:
If on the earth thy child remain,
His soul shall gather many a stain:
At thy behest, I stretch my hand
And take him to the heavenly land!
The mother heard, and bowed her bead,
And laid her cheek against the dead,
O God! I dare not pray --
Thou answerest in so strange a way!
In shadow of a taper's light,
She moaned through all the livelong night;
But when the morning brought the sun,
Thy will, O God, be done!
Source:The Sexton's Tale, And Other Poems.
Sheldon And Company, New York.