A poem by John Frederick Freeman

There was a child that screamed,
And if it was the gathering tingling dark,
Or if it was the tingling silences
Between few words,
Or if the water's drip and quivering drip--
Who knows?
Or if the child half sleeping suddenly dreamed--

Who knows? for she knew not, but was afraid,
And then angry with fear,
And then it seemed afraid of all the voices
Echoing hers.
And then afraid again of that drip, drip
Of water somewhere near.

Yet a man dying would not with such fear
Scream out at hell.
Easier it were to die than to endure,
Unless death brought the instant consciousness
Of all the wrongs of all lost years
Falling like water, drip after trembling drip
Upon the naked anguish of the soul.

But death's stupidity
Is gentle to the lunatic last wits.
Little of terror, little of consciousness,
But stupor, a great ease,
Narrowing silences,
And silence;
And then no more the drip, drip of the years,
No more the strangeness, agonies and fears;
No more the noise, but one imponderable unhaunted

I heard the child that cried
Chattering a moment after in the light,
And singing out of such contentment as
Lamps and familiar voices bring.
She needs must sing
Now that sharp, spiny agony thrust no more,
Nor water fell, drip, drip by quivering drip;
Her face was bright,
Unapprehensive as a day in spring.

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