Infantine Inquiries.

Tell me, O mother ! when I grow old,1
Will my hair, which my sisters say is like gold,2
Grow grey as the old man’s, weak and poor,3
Who asked for alms at our pillared door ?4
Will I look as sad, will I speak as slow5
As he, when he told us his tale of woe ?6
Will my hands then shake, and my eyes be dim ?7
Tell me, O mother ! will I grow like him ?8
He said—but I knew not what he meant9
That his aged heart with sorrow was rent.10
He spoke of the grave as a place of rest,11
Where the weary sleep in peace, and are blest ;12
And he told how his kindred there were laid13
And the friends with whom in his youth he played ;14
And tears from the eyes of the old man fell,15
And my sisters wept as they heard his tale !16
He spoke of a home, where, in childhood’s glee,17
He chased from the wild-flowers the singing bee ;18
And followed afar, with a heart as light19
As its sparkling wings, the butterfly’s flight ;20
And pulled young flowers, where they grew ’neath the
Of the sun’s fair light, by his own blue streams ;22
Yet he left all these through the earth to roam !23
Why, O mother ! did he leave his home ?”24
Calm thy young thoughts, my own fair child!25
The fancies of youth and age are beguiled ;26
Though pale grow thy cheeks, and thy hair turn grey,27
Time cannot steal the soul’s youth away !28
There’s a land of which thou hast heard me speak,29
Where age never wrinkles the dweller’s cheek ;30
But in joy they live, fair boy ! like thee31
It was there the old man longed to be.32
For he knew that those with whom he had played,33
In his heart’s young joy, ’neath their cottage shade34
Whose love he shared, when their songs and mirth35
Brightened the gloom of this sinful earth36
Whose names from our world had passed away,37
As flowers in the breath of an autumn day38
He knew that they, with all suffering done,39
Encircled the throne of the Holy One !40
Though ours be a pillared and lofty home,41
Where Want with his pale train never may come,42
Oh ! scorn not the poor, with the scorner’s jest,43
Who seek in the shade of our hall to rest ;44
For He who hath made them poor may soon45
Darken the sky of our glowing noon,46
And leave us with woe, in the world’s bleak wild !47
Oh ! soften the griefs of the poor, my child !”48