Francis Turner Palgrave

The Childless Mother


Oft in midnight visions
  Ghostly by my bed
Stands a Father's image,
  Pale discrowned head:--
--I forsook thee, Father!
  Was no child to thee!
Child-forsaken Mother,
  Now 'tis so with me.

Oft I see the brother,
  Baby born to woe,
Crouching by the church-wall
  From the bloodhound-foe.
Evil crown'd of evil,
  Heritage of strife!
Mine, an heirless sceptre:
  His, an exile life!

--O my vanish'd darlings,
  From the cradle torn!
Dewdrop lives, that never
  Saw their second morn!
Buds that fell untimely,--
  Till one blossom grew;
As I watch'd its beauty,
  Fading whilst it blew.

Thou wert more to me, Love,
  More than words can tell:
All my remnant sunshine
  Died in one farewell.
Midnight-mirk before me
  Now my life goes by,
For the baby faces
  As in vain I cry.

O the little footsteps
  On the nursery floor!
Lispings light and laughter
  I shall hear no more!
Eyes that gleam'd at waking
  Through their silken bars;
Starlike eyes of children,
  Now beyond the stars!

Where the murder'd Mary
  Waits the rising sign,
They are laid in darkness,
  Little lambs of mine.
Only this can comfort:
  Safe from earthly harms
Christ the Saviour holds them
  In His loving arms:--

Spring eternal round Him,
  Roses ever fair:--
Will His mercy set them
  All beside me there?
Will their Angels guide me
  Through the golden gate?
--Wait a little, children!
  Mother, too, must wait!

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