To-day I saw a little, calm-eyed child, -
Where soft lights rippled and the shadows tarried
Within a church's shelter arched and aisled, -
Peacefully wondering, to the altar carried;
White-robed and sweet, in semblance of a flower;
White as the daisies that adorned the chancel;
Borne like a gift, the young wife's natural dower,
Offered to God as her most precious hansel.
Then ceased the music, and the little one
Was silent, with the multitude assembled
Hearkening; and when of Father and of Son
He spoke, the pastor's deep voice broke and trembled.
But she, the child, knew not the solemn words,
And suddenly yielded to a troublous wailing,
As helpless as the cry of frightened birds
Whose untried wings for flight are unavailing.
How much the same, I thought, with older folk!
The blessing falls: we call it tribulation,
And fancy that we wear a sorrow's yoke,
Even at the moment of our consecration.
Pure daisy-child! Whatever be the form
Of dream or doctrine, - or of unbelieving, -
A hand may touch our heads, amid the storm
Of grief and doubt, to bless beyond bereaving;
A voice may sound, in measured, holy rite
Of speech we know not, tho' its earnest meaning
Be clear as dew, and sure as starry light
Gathered from some far-off celestial gleaning.
Wise is the ancient sacrament that blends
This weakling cry of children in our churches
With strength of prayer or anthem that ascends
To Him who hearts of men and children searches;
Since we are like the babe, who, soothed again,
Within her mother's cradling arm lay nested,
Bright as a new bud, now, refreshed by rain:
And on her hair, it seemed, heaven's radiance rested.