The Child Of Earth

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FAINTER her slow step falls from day to day,
Death's hand is heavy on her darkening brow;
Yet doth she fondly cling to earth, and say,
"I am content to die, but, oh! not now!
Not while the blossoms of the joyous spring
Make the warm air such luxury to breathe;
Not while the birds such lays of gladness sing;
Not while bright flowers around my footsteps wreathe.
Spare me, great God, lift up my drooping brow!
I am content to die--but, oh! not now!"

The spring hath ripen'd into summer-time,
The season's viewless boundary is past;
The glorious sun hath reach'd his burning prime;
Oh! must this glimpse of beauty be the last?
"Let me not perish while o'er land and lea
With silent steps the lord of light moves on;
Nor while the murmur of the mountain bee
Greets my dull ear with music in its tone!
Pale sickness dims my eye, and clouds my brow;
I am content to die--but, oh! not now!"

Summer is gone, and autumn's soberer hues
Tint the ripe fruits, and gild the waving corn;
The huntsman swift the flying game pursues,
Shouts the halloo, and winds his eager horn.
"Spare me awhile to wander forth and gaze
On the broad meadows and the quiet stream,
To watch in silence while the evening rays
Slant thro' the fading trees with ruddy gleam!
Cooler the breezes play around my brow;
I am content to die--but, oh! not now!"

The bleak wind whistles, snow-showers, far and near,
Drift without echo to the whitening ground;
Autumn hath pass'd away, and, cold and drear,
Winter stalks on, with frozen mantle bound.
Yet still that prayer ascends:--"Oh! laughingly
My little brothers round the warm hearth crowd,
Our home-fire blazes broad, and bright, and high,
And the roof rings with voices glad and loud;
Spare me awhile! raise up my drooping brow!
I am content to die--but, oh! not now!"

The spring is come again--the joyful spring!
Again the banks with clustering flowers are spread;
The wild bird dips upon its wanton wing:--
The child of earth is number'd with the dead!
"Thee never more the sunshine shall awake,
Beaming all redly thro' the lattice-pane;
The steps of friends thy slumbers may not break,
Nor fond familiar voice arouse again!
Death's silent shadow veils thy darken'd brow;
Why didst thou linger?--thou art happier now!"

© Caroline Norton