For Jane's Birthday

A poem by John Charles McNeill

If fate had held a careless knife
And clipped one line that drew,
Of all the myriad lines of life,
From Eden up to you;
If, in the wars and wastes of time,
One sire had met the sword,
One mother died before her prime
Or wed some other lord;

Or had some other age been blest,
Long past or yet to be,
And you had been the world's sweet guest
Before or after me:
I wonder how this rose would seem,
Or yonder hillside cot;
For, dear, I cannot even dream
A world where you are not!

Thus heaven forfends that I shall drink
The gall that might have been,
If aught had broken a single link
Along the lists of men;
And heaven forgives me, whom it loves,
For feigning such distress:
My heart is happiest when it proves
Its depth of happiness.

Enough to see you where you are,
Radiant with maiden mirth!
To bless whatever blessed star
Presided o'er your birth,
That, on this immemorial morn,
When heaven was bending low,
The gods were kind and you were born
Twenty sweet years ago!

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