Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
X. The Pity of It
‘When Bessie died’
By James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916)
WHEN Bessie died—
We braided the brown hair, and tied
It just as her own little hands
Had fastened back the silken strands
A thousand times—the crimson bit        5
Of ribbon woven into it
That she had worn with childish pride—
Smoothed down the dainty bow—and cried—
            When Bessie died.
When Bessie died—        10
We drew the nursery blinds aside,
And, as the morning in the room
Burst like a primrose into bloom,
Her pet canary’s cage we hung
Where she might hear him when he sung—        15
And yet not any note he tried,
Though she lay listening folded-eyed.
When Bessie died—
We writhed in prayer unsatisfied;
We begged of God, and He did smile        20
In silence all the while;
And we did see Him, through our tears,
Enfolding that fair form of hers,
She laughing back against His love
The kisses we had nothing of—        25
And death to us He still denied,
            When Bessie died—

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