My Boy

I HAD a little bird once,
But he has flown away.
I had a little boy once,
But ah, he did not stay.

What do they up in Heaven,
That Bird and Boy should fly,
And leave my home so empty
To seek the far-off sky?

What do they up in Heaven?—
Perchance the angels sing,
And, when they heard that music,
My Bird and Boy took wing.

The heavenly flowers bloom always,
The skies are always bright,
And all the little children
Play there from morn till night.

But do they never weary,
And long to go to rest,
Like little human children,
Upon a mother's breast?

My home and arms are empty,
My longing heart is sore,
Since they who sought the summer
Come back to me no more.

How softly falls the twilight,—
The sunset fires are out:
A wind that comes from Heaven
Blows slowly round about.

I close my eyes and listen,
And presently I hear
A small voice through the darkness
Sigh, “Mother—I am near.

“Come, take me in, dear mother,
And rock me as of old:
I used to be so happy
Within your tender hold!

“There sorrow cannot find me,
And pain shall pass me by,—
When you enfold who love me,
What danger can come nigh?

“So safe I was in Heaven,
So bright the shining days!
But, from afar, your weeping
Disturbed the hymns of praise,

“Till the dear Lord and gentle
Sent me to soothe your pain,
And, if you fain would keep me,
He bids me to remain.”

I kissed his tender eyelids,
I laid him on my heart;
And yet, when came the dawning,
I prayed him to depart.

I feared the unknown future,
I feared the paths untried,—
How dared I keep my darling
When Heaven was opened wide?

But, ah, my heart is lonely
Since Boy and Bird have fled,—
I hear the silence only,
And wish that I were dead.
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