The Dumb Child.

She is my only girl :1
I ask’d for her as some most precious thing,2
For all unfinish’d was Love’s jewell’d ring,3
Till set, with this soft pearl ;4
The shade that Time brought forth I could not see ;5
How pure, how perfect seem’d the gift to me !6
Oh, many a soft old tune7
I used to sing unto that deaden’d ear,8
And suffer’d not the lightest footstep near,9
Lest she might wake too soon ;10
And hushed her brothers’ laughter while she lay11
Ah, needless care !  I might have let them play !12
’Twas long ere I believed13
That this one daughtor might not speak to me ;14
Waited and wateh’d God knows how patiently !15
How willingly deceived :16
Vain Love was long the untiring nurse of Faith,17
And tended Hope until it starved to death.18
Oh ! if she could but hear19
For one short hour, till I her tongue might teach20
To call me mother, in the broken speech21
That thrills the mother’s ear !22
Alas ! those seal’d lips never may be stirr’d23
To the deep music of that lovely word.24
My heart it sorely tries25
To see her kneel, with such a reverent air,26
Beside brothers at their evening prayer ;27
Or lift those earnest eyes28
To watch our lips, as though our words she knew,—29
Then moves her own, as she were speaking too.30
I’ve watch’d her looking up31
To the bright wonder of a sunset sky,32
With such a depth of meaning in her eye,33
That I could almost hope34
The struggling soul would burst its binding cords,35
And the long pent-up thoughts flow forth in words.36
The song of bird and bee,37
The chorus of the breezes, streams, and groves,38
All the grand music to which Nature moves,39
Are wasted melody40
To her ; the world of sound a tuneless void ;41
While even Silence hath its charm destroy’d.42
Her face is very fair ;43
Her blue eye beautiful ; of finest mould44
The soft white brow, o’er which, in waves of gold,45
Ripples her shining hair.46
Alas ! this lovely temple closed must be,47
For He who made it keeps the master-key.48
Wills He the mind within49
Should from earth’s Babel-clamour be kept free,50
E’en that His still small voice and step might be51
Heard at its inner shrine,52
Through that deep hush of soul, with clearer thrill ?53
Then should I grieve ?— O murmuring heart be still !54
She seems to have a sense55
Of quiet gladness in her noiseless play.56
She hath a pleasant smile, a gentle way,57
Whose voiceless eloquence58
Touches all hearts, though I had once the fear59
That even her father would not care for her.60
Thank God it is not so !61
And when his sons are playing merrily,62
She comes and leans her head upon his knee.63
Oh ! at such times I know64
By his full eye and tones subdued and mild65
How his heart yearns over his silent child,66
Not of all gifts bereft,67
Even now. How could I say she did not speak !68
What real language lights her eye and cheek,69
And renders thanks to Him who left70
Unto her soul yet open avenues71
For joy to enter, and for love to use.72
And God in love doth give73
To her defect a beauty of its own.74
And we a deeper tenderness have known75
Through that for which we grieve.76
Yet shall the seal be melted from her ear,77
Yea, and my voice shall fill it—but not here.78
When that new sense is given,79
What rapture will its first experience be,80
That never woke to meaner melody,81
Than the rich songs of heaven,—82
To hear the full-toned anthem swelling round,83
While angels teach the ecstasies of sound !84