Katie, Aged Five Years.

A poem by Jean Ingelow


All rough winds are hushed and silent, golden light the meadow steepeth,
And the last October roses daily wax more pale and fair;
They have laid a gathered blossom on the breast of one who sleepeth
With a sunbeam on her hair.

Calm, and draped in snowy raiment she lies still, as one that dreameth,
And a grave sweet smile hath parted dimpled lips that may not speak;
Slanting down that narrow sunbeam like a ray of glory gleameth
On the sainted brow and cheek.

There is silence! They who watch her, speak no word of grief or wailing,
In a strange unwonted calmness they gaze on and cannot cease,
Though the pulse of life beat faintly, thought shrink back, and hope be failing,
They, like Aaron, "hold their peace."

While they gaze on her, the deep bell with its long slow pauses soundeth;
Long they hearken - father - mother - love has nothing more to say:
Beating time to feet of Angels leading her where love aboundeth
Tolls the heavy bell this day.

Still in silence to its tolling they count over all her meetness
To lie near their hearts and soothe them in all sorrows and all fears;
Her short life lies spread before them, but they cannot tell her sweetness,
Easily as tell her years.

Only daughter - Ah! how fondly Thought around that lost name lingers,
Oft when lone your mother sitteth, she shall weep and droop her head,
She shall mourn her baby-sempstress, with those imitative fingers,
Drawing out her aimless thread.

In your father's Future cometh many a sad uncheered to-morrow,
But in sleep shall three fair faces heavenly-calm towards him lean -
Like a threefold cord shall draw him through the weariness of sorrow,
Nearer to the things unseen.

With the closing of your eyelids close the dreams of expectation,
And so ends the fairest chapter in the records of their way:
Therefore - O thou God most holy - God of rest and consolation,
Be Thou near to them this day!

Be Thou near, when they shall nightly, by the bed of infant brothers,
Hear their soft and gentle breathing, and shall bless them on their knees;
And shall think how coldly falleth the white moonlight on the others,
In their bed beneath the trees.

Be Thou near, when they, they only, bear those faces in remembrance,
And the number of their children strangers ask them with a smile;
And when other childlike faces touch them by the strong resemblance
To those turned to them erewhile.

Be Thou near, each chastened Spirit for its course and conflict nerving,
Let Thy voice say, "Father - mother - lo! thy treasures live above!
Now be strong, be strong, no longer cumbered over much with serving
At the shrine of human love."

Let them sleep! In course of ages e'en the Holy House shall crumble,
And the broad and stately steeple one day bend to its decline,
And high arches, ancient arches bowed and decked in clothing humble,
Creeping moss shall round them twine.

Ancient arches, old and hoary, sunny beams shall glimmer through them,
And invest them with a beauty we would fain they should not share,
And the moonlight slanting down them, the white moonlight shall imbue them
With a sadness dim and fair.

Then the soft green moss shall wrap you, and the world shall all forget you,
Life, and stir, and toil, and tumult unawares shall pass you by;
Generations come and vanish: but it shall not grieve nor fret you,
That they sin, or that they sigh.

And the world, grown old in sinning, shall deny her first beginning,
And think scorn of words which whisper how that all must pass away;
Time's arrest and intermission shall account a vain tradition,
And a dream, the reckoning day!

Till His blast, a blast of terror, shall awake in shame and sadness
Faithless millions to a vision of the failing earth and skies,
And more sweet than song of Angels, in their shout of joy and gladness,
Call the dead in Christ to rise!

Then, by One Man's intercession, standing clear from their transgression,
Father - mother - you shall meet them fairer than they were before,
And have joy with the Redeemèd, joy ear hath not heard heart dreamèd,
Ay for ever - evermore!

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