To a Child During Sickness

SLEEP breathes at last from out thee,
   My little patient boy;
 And balmy rest about thee
   Smooths off the day’s annoy.
     I sit me down, and think
   Of all thy winning ways;
Yet almost wish, with sudden shrink,
   That I had less to praise.
 Thy sidelong pillowed meekness;
   Thy thanks to all that aid;
 Thy heart, in pain and weakness,
   Of fancied faults afraid;
     The little trembling hand
   That wipes thy quiet tears,—
These, these are things that may demand
   Dread memories for years.
 Sorrows I 've had, severe ones,
   I will not think of now;
 And calmly, midst my dear ones,
   Have wasted with dry brow;
     But when thy fingers press
   And pat my stooping head,
I cannot bear the gentleness,—
   The tears are in their bed.
 Ah, first-born of thy mother,
   When life and hope were new;
 Kind playmate of thy brother,
   Thy sister, father too;
     My light, where’er I go;
   My bird, when prison-bound;
My hand-in-hand companion—No,
   My prayers shall hold thee round.
 To say, “He has departed”—
   “His voice”—"his face"—is gone,
 To feel impatient-hearted,
   Yet feel we must bear on,—
     Ah, I could not endure
   To whisper of such woe,
Unless I felt this sleep insure
   That it will not be so.
 Yes, still he 's fixed, and sleeping!
   This silence too the while,—
 Its very hush and creeping
   Seem whispering us a smile;
     Something divine and dim
   Seems going by one’s ear,
Like parting wings of cherubim,
   Who say, “We 've finished here.”
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