Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: I. About Children
To a Child During Sickness
Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)
  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        5
    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;        10
  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        15
    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;        20
      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,        25
    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;        30
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,        35
    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.        40
  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        45
    Seems going by one’s ear,
Like parting wings of cherubim,
    Who say, “We ’ve finished here.”

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