The Dead Son

 

Long shadows are creeping,
The day’s almost done;
A mother kneels weeping
Beside her dead son.

“That Thou could’st have taken,
O God!” thus she cried,
“Say, say I’m mistaken,
That he has not died.”

“His eyes are so merry,
His lips almost smile;
His cheeks like the cherry
My poor heart beguile.”

“Oh, say he is waking
To greet me again,
And lift my heart breaking
From out of its pain.”

“’Tis only one hour
I left him asleep,
His face like a flower,
His breath sweet and deep.”

“Oh, God, he is stirring!
Look up little son!
There’s angel wings whirring –
The angels have gone.”

“They came down from Heaven
To take thee away,
But God He has given
Thee back for to-day.”

“Look up and be merry,
Look up, little boy;
Thy mother will bury
Her sorrow in joy.”

“His eyes they are filling
With tears for my woe,
My poor heart is spilling
Its blood; let it flow.”

“I knew he was dying,
I know he is dead;
O God, hear my crying
And take me instead!”

“But, soft! He has risen
And given me his hand;
Oh, listen! Oh, listen!
His face is a brand — “

“I hear the choirs singing,
I see heavenly light,
I see angels winging,
And gone is the night.”

“The flight of the starling,
The heaven is blue,
Oh, take me, my darling,
I’m coming with you!”

“Thy body so slender,
I love it so well;
Its soul doth surrender
And this is the shell.”

“It has a suggestion
Of someone I knew,
But there is no question
That this is not you.”

“My son, oh my baby, me precious
Oh, weren’t you afraid when you went?
You were one of Heaven’s treasures
To me only lent!”

The curlews are crying,
The long day is done;
A mother lies dying
Beside her dead son.

1926