The Sabbath-Day's Child

INFANT DAUGHTER OF THE REV. SIR RICHARD FLEMING, BART .

Pure , precious drop of dear mortality,
Untainted fount of life's meandering stream,
Whose innocence is like the dewy beam
Of morn, a visible reality,
Holy and quiet as a hermit's dream:
Unconscious witness to the promised birth
Of perfect good, that may not grow on earth,
Nor be computed by the worldly worth
And stated limits of morality,
Fair type and pledge of full redemption given,
Through him that saith " Of such is the kingdom of Heaven. " —

Sweet infant, whom thy brooding parents love
For what thou art, and what they hope to see thee,
Unhallow'd sprites and earth-born phantoms flee thee;
Thy soft simplicity, a hovering dove,
That still keeps watch, from blight and bane to free thee;
With its weak wings, in peaceful care outspread,
Fanning invisibly thy pillow'd head,
Strikes evil powers with reverential dread,
Beyond the sulphurous bolts of fabled Jove,
Or whatsoe'er of Amulet or charm
Fond Ignorance devised to save poor souls from harm.

To see thee sleeping on thy mother's breast,
It were indeed a lovely sight to see —
Who would believe that restless sin can be
In the same world that holds such sinless rest?
Happy art thou, sweet babe, and happy she
Whose voice alone can still thy baby cries,
Now still itself; Yet pensive smiles, and sighs,
And the mute meanings of a mother's eyes
Declare her thinking, deep felicity;
A bliss, my babe, how much unlike to thine,
Mingled with earthly fears, yet cheer'd with hope divine.

Thou breathing image of the life of Nature!
Say rather, image of a happy death —
For the vicissitudes of vital breath,
Of all infirmity the slave and creature,
That by the act of being perisheth,
Are far unlike that slumber's perfect peace
Which seems too absolute and pure to cease,
Or suffer diminution, or increase,
Or change of hue, proportion, shape, or feature;
A calm, it seems, that is not, shall not be,
Save in the silent depths of calm eternity.

A star reflected in a dimpling rill
That moves so slow it hardly moves at all,
The shadow of a white-robed waterfall,
Seen in the lake beneath when all is still,
A wandering cloud, that with its fleecy pall
Whitens the lustre of an autumn moon,
A sudden breeze that cools the cheek of noon,
Not mark'd till miss'd — so soft it fades, and soon —
Whatever else the fond inventive skill
Of Fancy may suggest, can not supply
Fit semblance of the sleeping life of infancy.

Calm art thou as the blessed Sabbath eve,
The blessed Sabbath eve when thou wast born;
Yet sprightly as a summer Sabbath morn,
When surely 'twere a thing unmeet to grieve;
When ribbons gay the village maids adorn,
And Sabbath music, on the swelling gales,
Floats to the farthest nooks of winding vales,
And summons all the beauty of the dales.
Fit music this a stranger to receive;
And, lovely child, it rung to welcome thee,
Announcing thy approach with gladsome minstrelsy.

So be thy life — a gentle Sabbath, pure
From worthless strivings of the work-day earth:
May time make good the omen of thy birth,
Nor worldly care thy growing thoughts immure,
Nor hard-eyed thrift usurp the throne of mirth
On thy smooth brow. And though fast-coming years
Must bring their fated dower of maiden fears,
Of timid blushes, sighs, and fertile tears,
Soft sorrow's sweetest offspring, and her cure;
May every day of thine be good and holy,
And thy worst woe a pensive sabbath melancholy.
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