BETA

To the Bust of My Son Charles.

Fair image of our sainted boy,1
Whose beauty calmly shows,2
Blent with life’s sunny smiles of joy,3
Death’s most serene repose4
I gaze upon thee, overcast5
With sweet, sad memories of the past.6
Visions, which owed to thee their birth,7
And for a while made heaven of earth,8
Return again in hues of light,9
To melt my heart, yet mock my sight,10
And sink amid the rayless gloom,11
That shadows thy untimely tomb.12
Our fair, fond boy !  and can it be13
That this pale mould of clay14
Is all that now remains of thee,15
So loving, lov’d, and gay !16
The Past awakens—Thou art there17
Before me, even now,18
The silken locks of sunny hair19
Thrown backward from thy brow20
Thy full, white brow of sinless thought ;21
Thy cheeks by smiles to dimples wrought ;22
Thy radiant eyes, to which were given23
The blue of Autumn’s midnight heaven ;24
Thy rose-bud mouth—whose voice’s tone25
Made every household heart thine own ;26
Our fondling child, our happy boy,27
Whose thoughts, words, looks, were all of joy.28
Yes !  there thou art, from death come back ;29
And vainly we deplore30
That earth had once a flowery track,31
Which ne’er shall blossom more !32
A spirit renovates dull Earth,33
Now Spring renews the world,34
The little birds in joy sing forth35
’Mid leaflets half unfurl’d ;36
But, Charlie, where art thou ?  We see37
The snowdrops fade, uncull’d by thee ;38
We hear no more thy feet—thy voice39
Sweet sounds that made our hearts rejoice ;40
And every dear, familiar spot41
Says here thou wert—who now art not ;42
Thy beauty is a blossom crush’d ;43
Thy being like a fountain hush’d ;44
We look, we long, for thee in vain45
The dearest soonest die !46
And bankrupt Age but finds the brain47
In all its sluices dry.48
Methinks the afternoons come back,49
When, perched upon my knee,50
Renewed in heart, I roamed the track51
Of Fairy-land with thee ;52
Or told of Joseph, when, within53
The sack of little Benjamin,54
The cup was found, and how he strove55
In vain to smother filial love ;56
Or Joshua and his mail-clad men ;57
Or Daniel in the lions’ den ;58
Or Jonah whelmed beneath the sea ;59
Or Absalom, when to the tree60
Fixed by his tresses floating wild,61
Until by Joab slain ;62
While David wept his rebel child63
The more—because in vain !64
And sweet it was on sunny days65
To saunter through the park,66
Amid the frisking lambs at graze,67
And listen to the lark ;68
While thou wouldst run before, behind,69
Bluebell and buttercup to find ;70
A happy child, whose heart had ne’er71
Been bowed by grief, or scathed by fear ;72
I see thy flushed and open brow ;73
I hear thy soft voice even now ;74
And smell the wild flowers bright and bland,75
Compressed within thy little hand.76
Still bloom the daisies there, the bee77
Booms round each flowery spot ;78
The small birds sing from every tree,79
And only thou art not !80
Thy voice was like a summer brook,81
For ever singing on ;82
And every thing around thee took83
From happiness its tone :84
We think of thee, and of the blue,85
Bright heaven, with sunshine streaming through ;86
Of blossom’d groves; of oceans calm:87
Of zephyrs breathing nought but balm ;88
Thy life was bliss—and can it be,89
That only now remains for thee90
The grave’s blank horror, the despair91
Of silence that endureth there ?92
And is the love, which shall decay93
Only with being’s breath,94
But wasted on a thing of clay,95
That sleeps in endless death ?96
No, Charlie, thus it cannot be.97
And, gazing on thy bust,98
I would not stoop to dream of thee99
As perishable dust ;100
Opened for thee the golden doors101
Of heaven, thy feet are on its floors,102
With jasper, beryl, and gems inlaid,103
To which our sunshine is like shade ;104
And all we dream of bright or fair105
For evermore are with thee there ;106
A halo glows around thy brow ;107
The seraphs are thy playmates now.108
It must be so—and dear, fond boy,109
If blest, and glorious thus,110
’Twere sin to wish thee back from joy111
To pain and care with us !112
A year hath circled since that day,113
That day of doleful gloom,114
When thou wert rapt from earth away,115
In beauty’s opening bloom ;116
That day of woe, when, horror-smote,117
To know, to feel, that thou wert not,118
We hung above thy bed of death,119
And listened to thy last, low breath,120
And lingered, nor would turn away,121
Nor think thee but a thing of clay !122
That day, when thou didst ope thine eyes123
In bliss—an angel mid the skies !124
Oh blind, blank hour for us !  Oh dawn125
Of endless life for thee !126
Noon saw thy soul from earth withdrawn ;127
Night at the Saviour’s knee.128
Farewell, sweet loan divine, whom Heaven,129
Beholding that my heart130
Less loved the Giver than the given,131
Took to itself apart :132
The waves of Time roll on—its sea133
Still bears us more remote from thee ;134
As hour on hour, and day on day,135
Melt in the spectral past away.136
Yet art thou like a star on high,137
To lure from earth my mental eye ;138
And I would hate my heart, if e’er139
Its love for thee it could outwear ;140
No ! in its core it shall retain141
Thine image aye to dwell :142
Then, till above we meet again,143
Farewell ! —dear boy, farewell !144