When Bessie Died

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
And ne'er would nestle in your palm again;
If the white feet into the grave had tripped"

When Bessie died -
We braided the brown hair, and tied
It just as her own little hands
Had fastened back the silken strands
A thousand times - the crimson bit
Of ribbon woven into it
That she had worn with childish pride -
Smoothed down the dainty bow - and cried
When Bessie died.

When Bessie died -
We drew the nursery blinds aside,
And as the morning in the room
Burst like a primrose into bloom,
Her pet canary's cage we hung
Where she might hear him when he sung -
And yet not any note he tried,
Though she lay listening folded-eyed.

When Bessie died -
We writhed in prayer unsatisfied:
We begged of God, and He did smile
In silence on us all the while;
And we did see Him, through our tears,
Enfolding that fair form of hers,
She laughing back against His love
The kisses had nothing of -
And death to us He still denied,
When Bessie died -
When Bessie died.

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