Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
On Seeing a Deceased Infant
By William B. O. Peabody (1799–1847)
  AND this is death! how cold and still,
And yet how lovely it appears!
  Too cold to let the gazer smile,
But far too beautiful for tears.
  The sparkling eye no more is bright,        5
The cheek hath lost its rose-like red;
  And yet it is with strange delight
I stand and gaze upon the dead.
  But when I see the fair wide brow,
Half shaded by the silken hair,        10
  That never look’d so fair as now,
When life and health were laughing there
  I wonder not that grief should swell
So wildly upward in the breast,
  And that strong passion once rebel        15
That need not, cannot be suppress’d.
  I wonder not that parents’ eyes
In gazing thus grow cold and dim,
  That burning tears and aching sighs
Are blended with the funeral hymn;        20
  The spirit hath an earthly part,
That weeps when earthly pleasure flies,
  And heaven would scorn the frozen heart
That melts not when the infant dies.
  And yet why mourn? that deep repose        25
Shall never more be broke by pain;
  Those lips no more in sighs unclose,
Those eyes shall never weep again.
  For think not that the blushing flower
Shall wither in the church-yard sod,        30
  ’T was made to gild an angel’s bower
Within the paradise of God.
  Once more I gaze—and swift and far
The clouds of death in sorrow fly,
  I see thee like a new-born star        35
Move up thy pathway in the sky:
  The star hath rays serene and bright,
But cold and pale compared with thine;
  For thy orb shines with heavenly light,
With beams unfailing and divine.        40
  Then let the burthen’d heart be free,
The tears of sorrow all be shed,
  And parents calmly bend to see
The mournful beauty of the dead;
  Thrice happy—that their infant bears        45
To heaven no darkening stains of sin;
  And only breathed life’s morning airs
Before its evening storms begin.
  Farewell! I shall not soon forget!
Although thy heart hath ceased to beat,        50
  My memory warmly treasures yet
Thy features calm and mildly sweet;
  But no, that look is not the last,
We yet may meet where seraphs dwell,
  Where love no more deplores the past,        55
Nor breathes that withering word—farewell.

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