M * * *

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

When I am dead, and all will soon forget
My words, and face, and ways --
I, somehow, think I'll walk beside thee yet
Adown thy after days.

I die first, and you will see my grave;
But child! you must not cry;
For my dead hand will brightest blessings wave
O'er you from yonder sky.

You must not weep; I believe I'd hear your tears
Tho' sleeping in a tomb:
My rest would not be rest, if in your years
There floated clouds of gloom.

For -- from the first -- your soul was dear to mine,
And dearer it became,
Until my soul, in every prayer, would twine
Thy name -- my child! thy name.

You came to me in girlhood pure and fair,
And in your soul -- and face --
I saw a likeness to another there
In every trace and grace.

You came to me in girlhood -- and you brought
An image back to me;
No matter what -- or whose -- I often sought
Another's soul in thee.

Didst ever mark how, sometimes, I became --
Gentle though I be --
Gentler than ever when I called thy name,
Gentlest to thee?

You came to me in girlhood; as your guide
I watched your spirit's ways;
We walked God's holy valleys side by side,
And so went on the days.

And so went on the years -- 'tis five and more;
Your soul is fairer now;
A light as of a sunset on a shore
Is falling on my brow --

Is falling, soon to fade; when I am dead
Think this, my child, of me:
I never said -- I never could have said --
Ungentle words to thee.

I treated you as I would treat a flower,
I watched you with such care;
And from my lips God heard in many an hour
Your name in many a prayer.

I watched the flower's growth; so fair it grew,
On not a leaf a stain;
Your soul to purest thoughts so sweetly true;
I did not watch in vain.

I guide you still -- in my steps you tread still;
Towards God these ways are set;
'Twill soon be over: child! when I am dead
I'll watch and guide you yet.

'Tis better far that I should go before,
And you awhile should stay;
But I will wait upon the golden shore
To meet my child some day.

When I am dead; in some lone after time,
If crosses come to thee,
You'll think -- remembering this simple rhyme --
"He holds a crown for me."

I guide you here -- I go before you there;
But here or there -- I know --
Whether the roses, or the thorny crown you wear
I'll watch where'er you go,

And wait until you come; when I am dead
Think, sometimes, child, of this:
You must not weep -- follow where I led,
I wait for you in bliss.

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