The Elder’s Daughter.

Cast her forth in her shame ;1
She is no daughter of mine ;2
We had an honest name,3
All of our house and line ;4
And she has brought us to shame.5
What are you whispering there,6
Parleying with sin at the door ?7
I have no blessing for her ;8
She is dead to me evermore ;—9
Dead ! would to God that she were !10
Dead ! and the grass o’er her head !11
There is no shame in dying :12
They were wholesome tears we shed13
Where all her little sisters are lying ;14
And the love of them is not dead.15
I did not curse her, did I ?16
I meant not that, O Lord :17
We are cursed enough already ;18
Let her go with never a word :—19
I have blessed her often already.20
You are the mother that bore her,21
I do not blame you for weeping ;22
They had all gone before her,23
And she had our hearts a-keeping ;24
And O the love that we bore her !25
I thought that she was like you ;26
I thought that the light in her face27
Was the youth and the morning dew,28
And the winsome look of grace :29
But she was never like you.30
Is the night dark and wild ?31
Dark is the way of sin32
The way of an erring child,33
Dark without and within.—34
And tell me not she was beguiled.35
What should beguile her, truly ?36
Did we not bless them both ?37
There was gold between them duly,38
And we blessed their plighted troth ;39
Though I never liked him truly.40
Let us read a word from the Book ;41
I think that my eyes grow dim ;—42
She used to sit in the nook ?43
There by the side of him,44
And hand me the holy Book.45
I wot not what ails me to-night,46
I cannot lay hold on a text.47
O Jesus ! guide me aright,48
For my soul is sore perplexed,49
And the book seems dark as the night.50
And the night is stormy and dark ;51
And dark is the way of sin ;52
And the stream will be swollen too ;
and hark
How the water roars in the Lynn !—54
It’s an ugly ford in the dark.55
What did you say ?  To-night56
Might she sleep in her little bed ?—57
Her bed so pure and white !58
How often I’ve thought and said59
They were both so pure and white.60
But that was a lie—for she61
Was a whited sepulchre ;62
Yet O she was white to me,63
And I’ve buried my heart in her ;64
And it’s dead wherever she be.65
Nay, she never could lay her head66
Again in the little white room ;67
Where all her little sisters were laid ;68
She would see them still in the gloom,69
All chaste and pure—but dead.70
We will go all together,71
She, and you, and I ;72
There’s the black peat-hag ’mong the
Where we could all of us lie,74
And bury our shame together.75
Any foul place will do76
For a grave to us now in our shame :—77
She may lie with me and you,78
But she shall not sleep with them,79
And the dust of my fathers too.80
Is it sin, you say, I have spoken ?81
I know not ; my head feels strange ;82
And something in me is broken ;83
Lord, is it the coming change ?84
Forgive word I have spoken.85
I scarce know what I have said ;86
Was I hard on her for her fall ?87
That was wrong ; but the rest were dead,88
And I loved her more than them all89
For she heired all the love of the dead.90
One by one as they died,91
The love, that was owing to them,92
Centred on her at my side ;93
And then she brought us to shame,94
And broke the crown of my pride.95
Lord, pardon mine erring child :96
Do we not all of err ?97
Dark was my heart and wild ;98
O might I but look on her,99
Once more, my lost loved child.100
For I thought, not long ago,101
That I was in Abraham’s bosom,102
And she lifted a face of woe,103
Like some pale, withered blossom,104
Out of the depths below.105
Do not say, when I am gone,106
That she brought my grey hairs to
the grave ;
Women do that ; but let her alone ;108
She’ll have sorrow enough to brave ;109
That would turn her heart into stone.110
Is that her hand in mine ?111
Now, give me thine, sweet wife :112
I thank thee, Lord, for this grace of
And light, and peace, and life ;114
And she is thine and mine.115