Little Nell.

A poem by Marietta Holley

Clasp your arms round her neck to-night,
Little Nell,
Arms so delicate, soft and white,
And yet so strong in love's strange might;
Clasp them around the kneeling form,
Fold them tenderly close and warm,
And who can tell
But such slight links may draw her back,
Away from the fatal, fatal track;
Who can tell,
Little Nell?

Press your lips to the lips of snow,
Little Nell;
Oh baby heart, may you never know
The anguish that makes them quiver so;
But now in her weakness and mortal pain,
Let your kisses fall like a dewy rain,
And who can tell
But your innocent love, your childish kiss
May lure her back from the dread abyss;
Who can tell,
Little Nell.

Lay your cheek on her aching breast,
Little Nell;
To you 'tis a refuge of holy rest,
But a dying bird never drooped its crest
With a deadlier pain in its wounded heart;
Ah! love's sweet links may be torn apart,
Little Nell;
The altar may flame with gems and gold,
And splendor be bought, and peace be sold,
But is it well,
Little Nell?

Veil her face with your tresses bright,
Little Nell;
Hide that vision out of her sight -
Those dark dark eyes with their tender light -
Uplift your pure face, can it be
She will bid farewell to heaven and thee,
Little Nell?
No; your mute lips plead with eloquent power,
Her tears fall like a tropic shower;
All is well,
Little Nell.

Close your blue eyes now in sleep,
Little Nell;
Her angel smiles to see her weep;
At morn a ship will cleave the deep,
And one alone will be borne away,
And one will clasp thee close, and pray;
Oh Little Nell,
Never, never beneath the sun,
Will you dream what you this night have done,
Done so well,
Little Nell.

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