James Henry Leigh Hunt

To a Child During Sickness

SLEEP breathes at last from out thee,
My little patient boy;
And balmy rest about thee
Smooths off the day's annoy.
I sit me down, and think
Of all thy winning ways;
Yet almost wish, with sudden shrink,
That I had less to praise.

Thy sidelong pillowed meekness;
Thy thanks to all that aid;
Thy heart, in pain and weakness,
Of fancied faults afraid;
The little trembling hand
That wipes thy quiet tears,—
These, these are things that may demand
Dread memories for years.

Sorrows I 've had, severe ones,
I will not think of now;
And calmly, midst my dear ones,
Have wasted with dry brow;
But when thy fingers press
And pat my stooping head,
I cannot bear the gentleness,—
The tears are in their bed.

Ah, first-born of thy mother,
When life and hope were new;
Kind playmate of thy brother,
Thy sister, father too;
My light, where'er I go;
My bird, when prison-bound;
My hand-in-hand companion—No,
My prayers shall hold thee round.

To say, "He has departed"—
"His voice"—"his face"—is gone,
To feel impatient-hearted,
Yet feel we must bear on,—
Ah, I could not endure
To whisper of such woe,
Unless I felt this sleep insure
That it will not be so.

Yes, still he 's fixed, and sleeping!
This silence too the while,—
Its very hush and creeping
Seem whispering us a smile;
Something divine and dim
Seems going by one's ear,
Like parting wings of cherubim,
Who say, "We 've finished here."

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