The Poet's Child

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

Lines addressed to the daughter of Richard Dalton Williams.

Child of the heart of a child of sweetest song!
The poet's blood flows through thy fresh pure veins;
Dost ever hear faint echoes float along
Thy days and dreams of thy dead father's strains?
Dost ever hear,
In mournful times,
With inner ear,
The strange sweet cadences of thy father's rhymes?

Child of a child of art, which Heaven doth give
To few, to very few as unto him!
His songs are wandering o'er the world, but live
In his child's heart, in some place lone and dim;
And nights and days
With vestal's eyes
And soundless sighs
Thou keepest watch above thy father's lays.

Child of a dreamer of dreams all unfulfilled --
(And thou art, child, a living dream of him) --
Dost ever feel thy spirit all enthrilled
With his lost dreams when summer days wane dim?
When suns go down,
Thou, song of the dead singer,
Dost sigh at eve and grieve
O'er the brow that paled before it won the crown?

Child of the patriot! Oh, how he loved his land!
And how he moaned o'er Erin's ev'ry wrong!
Child of the singer! he swept with purest hand
The octaves of all agonies, until his song
Sobbed o'er the sea;
And now through thee
It cometh to me,
Like a shadow song from some Gethsemane.

Child of the wanderer! and his heart the shrine
Where three loves blended into only one --
His God's, thy mother's, and his country's; and 'tis thine
To be the living ray of such a glorious sun.
His genius gleams,
My child, within thee,
And dim thy dreams
As stars on the midnight sea.

Child of thy father, I have read his songs --
Thou art the sweetest song he ever sung --
Peaceful as Psalms, but when his country's wrongs
Swept o'er his heart he stormed. And he was young;
He died too soon --
So men will say --
Before he reached Fame's noon;
His songs are letters in a book -- thou art their ray.

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