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SONGS FOR CHILDHOOD.
Jajies Rcssell Lowell.
I hai> a little daughter,
And she was given to me To lead me gently backward
To the Heavenly Father's knee, That I, by the force of nature,
Might, in some dim wise, divine The depth of his infinite patience
To this wayward soul of mine.
I know not how others saw her, But to me she was wholly fair,
And the light of the heaven she came from Still lingered and gleamed in her hair;
She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,
And it hardly seemed a day, When a troop of wandering angels
Stole my little daughter away ; Or perhaps those heavenly Zincali
But loosed the hampering strings, And when they opened her cage-door,
My little bird used her wings.
But they left in her stead a changeling,
A little angel child, That seems like her bud in full blossom,
And smiles as she never smiled. When I wake in the morning, I see it
Where she always used to lie ; And I feel as weak as a violet
Alone 'neath the awful sky:
For it was as wavy and golden,
And as many changes took, As the shadows of sun-gilt ripples
On the yellow bed of the brook.
To what can I liken her smiling
Upon me, her kneeling lover ? How it leaped from her lips to her eyelids,
And dimpled her wholly over, Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
And I almost seemed to see The very heart of her mother
Sending sun through her veins to me!
As weak, yet as trustful also;
For the whole year long I see All the wonders of faithful Nature
Still worked for the love of me. Winds wander, and dews drip earthward;
Rains fall, suns rise and set; Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
A poor little violet.
This child is not mine as the first was;
I can not sing it to rest, I can not lift it up fatherly,
And bless it upon my breast;