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(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

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A Dead Baby

LITTLE soul, for such brief space that entered
In this little body straight and chilly,
Little life that fluttered and departed,
Like a moth from an unopened lily,
Little being, without name or nation,
Where is now thy place among creation?

Little dark-lashed eyes, unclosèd never,
Little mouth, by earthly food ne'er tainted,
Little breast, that just once heaved, and settled
In eternal slumber, white and sainted,--
Child, shall I in future children's faces
See some pretty look that thine retraces?

Is this thrill that strikes across my heart-strings
And in dew beneath my eyelid gathers,
Token of the bliss thou mightst have brought me,
Dawning of the love they call a father's?
Do I hear through this still room a sighing
Like thy spirit to me its author crying?

Whence didst come and whither take thy journey,
Little soul, of me and mine created?
Must thou lose us, and we thee, forever,
O strange life, by minutes only dated?
Or new flesh assuming, just to prove us,
In some other babe return and love us?

Idle questions all: yet our beginning
Like our ending, rests with the Life-sender,
With whom naught is lost, and naught spent vainly:
Unto Him this little one I render.
Hide the face--the tiny coffin cover:
So, our first dream, our first hope--is over.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010


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