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7. Beside the church upon the hill One daughter, little Jane, had he, A cottage stood of aspect gray,
The silent Sexton's only child; Whose owner's task it was to till And when she laughed aloud and free, The three fair fields that round him The
old Sexton smiled. lay.
For she within his heart had crept, An orchard small, a garden-plot, Himself he could not tell you why, By closest hedge-rows fenced around, But often he has almost wept With leafy tufts adorned the spot, Because he heard her cry. And marked the churchyard's ancient
All else to him appeared as dead, 3.
Awaiting but the shroud and pall; The church and tall church-spire at It seemed that to himself he said, band,
“ I soon shall dig the graves of all." Around the cottage shed repose,
10. And gravely watch the teeming land, And beast, and man, and home, and Where slow a stream through mea wife, dows flows.
He saw with cold, accustomed eye; 4.
Jane only looked so full of life Below, upon the prosperous plain, As if that she could never die. From that high church the gazer sees
11. A village small, with fields of grain, And when she still could hardly walk And pastures bright, and shading trees. By holding fast his wrinkled finger, 5.
So well he loved her prattling talk, To him who owned the church-side He often from his work would linger. farm,
12. The churchyard yielded gain as well; Around her waist in sport he tied The Sexton he, whose strenuous arm The coffin-ropes for leading-string Dug all the graves, and tolled the bell. And on his spade she learnt to ride, 6.
And handled all his churchyard Sad seemed the dull gray-headed man, things. Of sluggish thought, and careful heed;
13. He shaped his life by rule and plan, Henceforth on many a summer day, And hoarded all beyond his need. While hollowing deep the sunlit grave,
VOL. XLIV. NO. CCLXXIII.
Beside him he would have her stay,
25. And bones to be her playthings gave. I know not_'twas not said of yore14.
But still to me, a man, it seems At whiles the busied man would raise That motherhood is something more Above the brink his bare gray head, Than e'en a father's fondness deems. With quiet smile a moment gaze,
26. And turn to labour for the dead. The teeming breast has thrills, 'tis 15.
plain, And when, slow-winding up the hill, More deep than e'er its partner knew, Between the elms, the funeral came, A mystery of hopeful pain, Her voice would sound so cheerly shrill That makes a greater blessing due. As if 'twere all an infant's game.
And thus, though far in years apart, But when the burial rite was there, The mother and her child were one; The drooping forms, the weeping eyes, Tlie youthful and the elder heart The awful thrill, the hallowing prayer, To one true heart had grown. The sudden whisper lost in sighs,
The mother was an humble woman, The child then sought her father's side, Unskilled in aught that's known to few, And spoke in wondering accents low, And having only this uncommonAnd he almost aloud replied,
A zeal to practise all she knew. “ Hush, hush, my dear! 'tis always so."
And Mary from her bosom's core One day upon a baby's grave
Of many things could speak to Jane, His morning's work must Simon spend, That, never finding voice before, And Jane her seat by him must have,' Had mutely dwelt, but not in vain. And all his well-known task attend.
Of change and trial here on earth, Soon 'mid the herbage soft and green Of hopes by which we conquer sins, The little place of rest was made, And of the spirit's better birth Whence daisy-cover'd meads were Than that which first our life begins. seen,
31. And where the hawthorn cast a shade. And sometimes, when the closing day 20.
Shot through the cottage window-pane, Old Simon, almost resting now, And o'er the mother cast a ray With slackened stroke his labour plied, That kindled all the heart of Jane,– And raising oft his moistened brow,
32. With longer looks his darling eyed. Then starting she would turn and 21.
look, Then Jane cried out in sudden glee, As if it were the cloven sky “ Oh, what a pretty grave is there ! That o'er the quiet face and book It would be just a bed for me, Shot out its glories suddenly. With room enough, and none to spare.”
Oft, too, while Mary mildly spake The father's hand let fall the spade, In words now flowing smooth and free, His cheek grew pale, he heaved a From Simon's eyes a gleam would groan ;
break; And when the children's graves he So buth were taught, his child and he. made,
34. Thenceforth he always worked alone. Thus from within and from without, 23.
She grew a flower for mind and eye; These hours, and others more, when he 'Twas love that circled her about, In fields was labouring far away, And love in her made quick reply. Dear Jane beside her mother's knee
35. Would oftener pass than she would Church, too, and churchyard were to play.
A realm of dream, and sight, and lore; The child and woman thus akin, And, but for one green field or twaini, Two shapes of earth's obscurest All else a sea without a shore, mould,
36. Had love as true, both hearts within, Of this her isle the central rock As e'er in loftiest lay was told. Stoot up in that old tower sublime,
Which utter'd from its wondrous As if a sunbeam played between clock
Those hearts and hers to warm her so. The only thought she had of Time.
And brows where darker passions For her at Sunday-service hours
wrought, The world she knew expanded wide, And strength with more of ill than The chiming bell had wizard powers
good, To bid new visions round her glide. Would stamp upon her infant thought 38.
A fear ill understood. For now came trooping up the hill
43. The young and old, the faint and She turned from these and blushed, strong;
and heard The white-frock'd men the sunshine With deeper sense the prayer and fill,
praise, And girls, a many-colour'd throng. And oft some strange but holy word 39.
Her soul in vague delight could raise. The sires of all from age to age
44. Were laid below the grassy mould, The child between her parents Whose hillocks were to Jane a page
knelt, Inscribed with lessons manifold. Who prayed the more to God above, 40.
Because so close to them they felt And in the porch, or on the green, The dearest gift of heavenly love. And in the pause between the prayers,
45. She marked each various face and And -well that heart the mother mien
knew With eyes that softened theirs. Which he but as from far could prize; 41.
For scarce an impulse in it grew She marked the mild gray head serene, But Mary first had seen it rise. Or happy look of youthful glow,
Or shadow of its own green leaves Years flowed away and never brought Upon the crimson rose. The weary weight of care to Jane;
6. They gave emotion, wonder, thought, And she had reached a higher state, The strength of life without the pain. Though infant joys about her clung; 2.
With gaze more fixed a graver fate To her new beauty largely given Above her beauty hung. From deeper fountains looked and
So fares it still with human life, And, like a morning dream from Which, ever journeying on, heaven,
Unconscious climbs from peace to The woman gleamed within the child. strife, 3.
Till new ascents be won. Her looks were oftener turned to
And thus about her youth was spread But every glance was lovelier now; The shadow thrown by coming Time, 'Twas plain that light of inward The expectance deepening o'er her birth
head Now kissed the sunshine round her Of passion's sad Sublime ; brow.
While all that on the dreadless flower Withdrawn was she from passing The war of Will and Doom may bring, eyes
Stands waiting but the signal hour By more than Fortune's outward law, To sweep on fiery wing. By bashful thoughts like silent sighs,
10. By Feeling's lone retiring awe. Heavy and stern came down the blow 5.
On her who had no shield of pride ; So fair the veil that twilight weaves
Who never felt the grasp of wo Around its golden shows,
Until her mother died.
No growth she deemed could either
Her mother's book that well she knew; Slow dragged the following day : for And felt that in the hallowed air him
Its meanings brighter grew. His known familiar life was gone;
23. The Past was something dark and One morning, while she sat intent grim
Beside the grassy mound, That he must look at now alone. Her brow upon the headstone leant, 13.
Her foot upon the ground, But all his fondest heart awoke,
24. And opened toward his orphan child; The sunshine sparkled through the To her with cheerful ease he spoke, sky, And wondering marked she never The breeze and lark sang on tosmiled.
And yet there seemed, afar and nigh, She knew not what the mind will One silent world of azure weather. bear,
25. Yet only learn the more to brave; But from beyond the old Yew-tree It seemed the world so large and fair A voice disturbed the maiden's ear, Must sink within her mother's grave. And in the lone tranquillity 15.
It sounded strangely near. That grave himself would Simon
'Twas now a broken word of prayer, And she could only turn and groan, 'Twas now a sob of “ Mother! 'Mo. When first the spade she saw him ther!" take,
And all the sorrow bursting there As if the grief were not his own. The heart she felt had sought to 16.
smother. Then soon the burial pang was o'er,
27. And calmer flowed the stream again; No woman's voice so deeply rings, But Jane would never witness more Though men by graves but seldom An open grave or funeral train.
pray ; 17.
And, ah! how true the grief that brings The maiden now was left to be A man to weep by light of day! Her father's only prop and stay,
28. And in her looks was plain to see With wonder awed, with pity stirred, A heart resolved, but never gay ;
From off the book she turned away ; 18.
And still the same low sob she heard, A loveliness that made men sad, And still he seemed to pray. Like some delightful, mournful ditty,
29. Too fair for any but the bad
With sorrow moved for others' woes, To think of without love and pity. The maiden rose upon her knee; 19.
Upon her feet the maiden rose, Each household task she duly wrought,
And stood beside the old yew-tree. No change but one the house could
And doubting, trembling, there she And peace for her was in the thought, stood, Her mother would have wished it so. Nor dared the mourning man to see; 20.
And, though her thoughts were all of But often in the silent hours
good, Of summer dawn, while men were She feared to stay, she feared to flee. sleeping,
31. She rose to gather fragrant flowers, Against the broad yew-trunk she And wet their leaves with weeping. leant, 21.
The black boughs' vault of shade aShe strewed them o'er her mother's dorning, grave,
A fixed, fair, living monument, To wither where her joys bad faded ; Amid the light of morning :