I heard the strokes of the midnight bell
As they thrilled the quiet air,
And saw the soft, white curtains wave
In the lamp's uncertain glare;
And felt the breath of the July night,
Laden with fragrance and warmth and blight.
I knew that scarcely an hour before,
With plaintive and feeble wail,
A spirit had entered the gates of time,
A being helpless and frail;
That cradled beside me the stranger lay,
Though I had not dared o'er her face to pray.
But roused by the voice of the midnight chime,
O'er the little one I bent,
And soft, sweet eyes were upraised to mine,
As blue as the firmament, -
Eyes that had never beheld the day,
Or the chastened light of the moonbeam's ray.
O wonderful meeting, on the verge
Of Life and the dark BEYOND!
O wonderful glance from soul to soul
United by tenderest bond!
The one corroded with earth and care,
The other as falling snow-flakes fair; -
The one oppressed with contrition's tear,
Familiar with grief and sin,
The other with naught but the angel's face
Who ushered the human in;
The one a wrestler with Fate's decrees,
The other environed with saintly ease; -
The one acquainted with Death and change,
And with anguish faint and pale,
The other as fresh as the earliest rose
That opened in Eden's vale.
Dear Lord! that ever the blight should fall,
That sin should sully and Death appall!