Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Changeling
By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
I HAD a little daughter,
  And she was given to me
To lead me gently backward
  To the Heavenly Father’s knee;
That I, by the force of nature,        5
  Might in some dim wise divine
The depth of his infinite patience
  To this wayward soul of mine.
I know not how others saw her,
  But to me she was wholly fair,        10
And the light of the heaven she came from
  Still lingered and gleamed in her hair;
For it was as wavy and golden,
  And as many changes took,
As the shadows of sun-gilt ripples        15
  On the yellow bed of a brook.
To what can I liken her smiling
  Upon me, her kneeling lover?
How it leaped from her lips to her eye-lids,
  And dimpled her wholly over,        20
Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
  And I almost seemed to see
The very heart of her mother
  Sending sun through her veins to me!
She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,        25
  And it hardly seemed a day,
When a troop of wandering angels
  Stole my little daughter away;
Or perhaps those heavenly Zingari
  But loosed the hampering strings,        30
And when they had opened her cage door,
  My little bird used her wings.
But they left in her stead a changeling,
  A little angel child,
That seems like her bud in full blossom,        35
  And smiles as she never smiled:
When I wake in the morning, I see it
  Where she always used to lie,
And I feel as weak as a violet
  Alone ’neath the awful sky.        40
As weak, yet as trustful also:
  For the whole year long I see
All the wonders of faithful Nature
  Still worked for the love of me;
Winds wander, and dews drip earthward,        45
  Rain falls, suns rise and set,
Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
  A poor little violet.
This child is not mine as the first was;
  I cannot sing it to rest,        50
I cannot lift it up fatherly
  And bliss it upon my breast:
Yet it lies in my little one’s cradle
  And sits in my little one’s chair,
And the light of the heaven she’s gone to        55
  Transfigures its golden hair.

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