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Thomas Aird (Томас Эрд)

The Holy Cottage

“Come near, my child!” the dying father said.
Life's twilight dews lay heavy on his brow.
How softly o'er him did that daughter bow!
She wiped those dews away, she raised his drooping head.
He looked upon her with a long long look,
Thinking of all her winning little ways,
His only gladness from her infant days,
Since God from them away the wife and mother took.
Oft to the moorland places he his child
Led by the hand, or bore upon his back.
The curlew's nest he showed her in their track,
And leveret's dewy play upon the whinny wild.
The while he dug, his coat she quaintly dressed
With flowers, aye peeping forth lest he might see
The unfinished fancy; then how pleased when he,
Much wondering, donned her work, when came his hour of rest!
Down sate she by him; and when hail or rain
Crossed that high country with its streaming cloud,
She nestled in his bosom o'er her bowed,
Till through the whitening rack looked out the sun again.

And when his axe was in the echoing wood,
Down its shy depths, looking behind her oft,
She o'er the rotting ferns and fungi soft
Through boughs and blinding leaves her bursting way pursued.
The dry twig, matted in the spear-like grass,
Where fresh from morning's womb the orbèd dew
Lies cold at noon, cracked as she stepped light through,
Startling the cushat out close by the startled lass.
Her fluttering heart was ready then for fear:
Through the far peeping glades she thought she saw
Forms beckoning, luring her; the while with awe
The air grew dark and dumb, listening for something drear.
The ferns were stirred, the leaves were shaken, rain
Fell in big drops, and thunder muttered low;
Back burst the flushed dishevelled girl, and oh
How glad was she to hear her father's axe again!
Blithe, sitting in the winter night, he made
Or mended by the fire his garden gear;
She with her mates, their faces glancing clear
From shade to ruddy light, quick flitting round him played.
And aye some sly young thing, in rosy joyance,
Looked up between his knees, where she was hid;
Humming he worked till she was found, then chid,
But in a way that just lured back the dear annoyance.
Up grew the virgin in her blooming beauty,
Filling her father's ordered house with grace.

And ever o'er the Word she bowed her face,
Binding her days and nights in one continuous duty.
When Sabbath came, she plucked him mint and thyme,
And led him forth, what hour from farms around
By stile, and sunny croft, and meadow ground,
The parti-coloured folk came to the bell's sweet chime.
The simple people, gathered by the sod
Of the new grave, or by the dial-stone,
Made way, and blessed her as she led him on
With short and tottering steps into the House of God.
And holy was their Sabbath afternoon,
The sunlight falling on that father's head
Through their small western casement, as he read
Much to his child of worlds which he must visit soon.
And if, his hand upon the Book still laid,
His spectacles upraised upon his brow,
Frail nature slept in him, soft going now
She screened the sunny pane, those dear old eyes to shade.
Then sitting in their garden-plot, they saw
With what delicious clearness the far height
Seemed coming near, and slips of falling light
Lay on green moorland spot and soft illumined shaw.
Turned to the sunny hills where he was nursed,
The old man told his child of bloody times,
Marked by the mossy stone of half-sunk rhymes;
And in those hills he saw her sainted mother first.

“I see thy mother now! I see her stand
Waiting for me, and smiling holy sweet;
The robe of white is flowing to her feet;
And oh our good Lord Christ, He holds her by the hand!
“Farewell, my orphan lamb! To leave thee thus
Is death to me indeed! Yet fear not thou!
On the Good Shepherd I do cast thee now:
'Tis but a little while, and thou shalt come to us.
“Oh yes! no fear! home to us in the skies
His Everlasting arms will carry thee.
Couldst thou thy mother see, as I do see!
My child!” He said, and died. His daughter closed his eyes.

Thomas Aird's other poems:
  1. Monograph of a Friend
  2. The Translation of Beauty
  3. Song the Seventh
  4. Song the Second
  5. Song the Fourth

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