Too Late.

Hush! speak low—tread softly—1
Draw the sheet aside :2
Yes, she does look peaceful ;3
With that smile she died.4
Yet stern want and sorrow5
Even now you trace6
On the wan, worn features7
Of the still, white face.8
Restless, helpless, hopeless,9
Was her bitter part ;10
Now, how still the violets11
Lie upon her heart.12
She who toiled and laboured13
For her daily bread :14
See the velvet hangings15
Of this stately bed.16
Yes, they did forgive her,17
Brought her home at last,18
Strove to cover over19
Their relentless past.20
Ah, they would have given21
Wealth, and name, and pride,22
To see her looking happy,23
Once before she died.24
They strove hard to please her,25
But, when death is near,26
All you know is deadened—27
Hope, and joy, and fear.28
And, besides, one sorrow—29
Deeper still, one pain30
Was beyond them : healing31
Came to-day in vain.32
If she had but lingered33
Just a few hours more ;34
Or had this letter reached her35
Just one day before!36
I can almost pity37
Even him to-day,38
Though he let this anguish39
Eat her heart away.40
Yet she never blamed him.41
One day you shall know42
How this sorrow happened:43
It was long ago.44
I have read his letter:45
Many a weary year46
For one word she hungered—47
There are thousands here!48
If she could but hear it,49
Could but understand!50
See, I put the letter51
In her cold white hand.52
Even these words, so longed for,53
Do not stir her rest.54
Well, I should not murmur,55
For God judges best.56
She needs no more pity ;57
But I mourn his fate,58
When he hears his letter59
Came a day too late.60