It was years ago one October day
When a shadow fell on my Life's bright way;
And, with fond hopes blighted and glad dreams fled,
I turned with a weary, desolate tread
To the home I had left with light step and free,
Where my mother waited and prayed for me.
Ah ! though crushed by woe, not of all bereft
Can we ever feel while this friend is left.
The love of a mother is strong and true,—
Unchanged, undiminished, our whole life through :
And her circling arms are our truest stay
When hopes we have cherished have passed away.
' Grandmother Dickey,' an aged dame,
Walked over to see me the day I came:
It was life's October with grandmother then,
While mother had passed her threescore and ten.
And they both would fain have soothed me there,
As I sat beside them jn mute despair.
'Grandmother' said it would not be long
Till my call would come from the ransomed throng ;
Life was only a span, and 'twould be so sweet
For friends, long parted, again to meet.
And she told me my duty was plain and clear
To comfort the dear ones left me here.
Then we all knelt down, the pilgrims twain,
With me between them ; and not in vain
Were the fervent prayers, as on bended knee
They asked the Father to comfort me.
For, like perfume wafted from fields of balm,
There came o'er my spirit a wondrous calm.
This was years ago, and a long, long while
It seemed as I passed o'er the grave-yard stile,
And on through the leaves of brown, crimson, and gold
That covered the graves from the Winter's cold;
Then sat me down where the maples wave
Their shadowy boughs o'er my mother's grave.
And my thoughts went back, as I bowed me there,
To an aged form, bent in earnest prayer;
And I said, She is old now as mother was then,—
If she lives, she has counted threescore and ten.
And musing thus, with my lifted eyes
Fixed on the dreary October skies,
I stood, while the branches above poured down
Their wealth of crimson and gold and brown;
Then turned to follow the sound they gave,
And to watch them fall on a new-made grave.
A rustling of feet 'mid the leaflets sere
Made me turn to look,—'twas a child drew near.
' Come hither, my lad ! Whose grave? Pray tell!'
' Why, Grandmother Dickey's : you knew her well.
She was old and feeble and wanted to go,
For so many were dead that she used to know.'
I measured the space. I was just between
The pilgrims' graves, as that day I had been
Between the twain when her voice arose
To the pitying Father to soothe my woes.
But the lips were silent that prayed for me
Whom Faith had forsaken on Life's rough sea.
And my heart wailed out a despairing moan,—
A cry for the earth-love forever flown ;
Until mother's voice through the silence came,
' Waiting and praying, love, all the same.'
And then 'Grandmother's' words, 'It will be so sweet
When friends, long parted, again shall meet ! '
Kate Harrington's Other Poems
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