‘ The Children Laughed and Sang.

It was in the chill December1
That the Angel of Death came by,2
And he rustled his wings of darkness3
As he swept through the wintry sky :4
A household of happy creatures5
Dwelt quiet, and free from care,6
And the Angel stole in softly,7
And stood all silent there.8
(But the children laughed and sang at their play ;9
Never a fear nor a pang had they.)10
And the Angel swiftly in silence11
Struck home the mortal blow,12
And in the wintry morning13
He laid the father low :14
And wildly the sorrowful mother,15
Bewildered and stunned with woe,16
Wailed in her lone bereavement,17
And wished that she too might go !18
(But the children laughed and sang at their play ;19
Never a fear nor a pang had they.)20
Cold in the lonely chamber21
Lay the father’s form at rest ;22
And they laid the delicate flower-wreaths23
Upon his quiet breast ;24
And forth from his home they bore him,25
And hid him from sound and sight ;26
And they heaped the cold earth above him27
While the children’s feet trod light.28
(But the boys went home to their happy play ;29
Never a fear nor a pang had they.)30
And often the childish footsteps31
Are turned to their father’s grave,32
Where the grass, with its glistening hoar-frost,33
Lies over that heart so brave ;34
And sometimes they watch their mother35
Bending in sorrow and pain ;36
And they say in their childish voices :37
Will Papa never come again ?’38
(But soon they laugh and sing at their play ;39
Never a fear nor a pang have they.)40
So God in His infinite pity41
Shuts the eyes of the children dear,42
And they see not the fell Destroyer,43
Though their eyes are so bright and clear.44
And I said: ‘ There’s no Past for the children45
With its terrible pangs and stings ;46
And for them no brooding Future47
Spreadeth its threatening wings.48
All they see is the Present—To-day ;49
And so they laugh and sing at their play.’50