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For earth's four thousand years of grief and
gloom Ended by Him who lay within thy Virgin womb.
Two forms are at her side, Serene and thoughtful-eyed, Abel and Enoch, Death's first victim this, For whom that bitterest pain First pierced the heart and brain Of Parents mourning for Earth's dearest bliss; The other, deathless, raised from Earth to
Type of the grave subdued, and sin through faith forgiven.
And haply some there be,
Erewhile endued like thee With woman's holiest heart, who trod on earth
The ways of Heavenly truth,
Meek Hannah, constant Ruth, And that fair Persian Queen of Hebrew birth: Some haply who with thee on Earth were seen, Martha, and Mary, and repentant Magdalene. xv.
And others whom even we
(If fondest Phantasy May image that which love would fain believe)
Have walk'd with here below,
Now freed from all Earth's woe— Souls whom thou may'st with tenderest love receive.
Mothers, and wives, and maidens undefiled, And infants who, even here, might on thy lap have smiled,
But wherefore thus prolong,
In vain, presumptuous song,
Why strive to picture thee,
As what thou now may'st be— Rather than that which thou indeed hast been, A mortal dweller in this world of death, A thingof flesh and blood instinct with human breath?
As such men yielded thee
(For which thou weep'st, if souls in glory can)
Nor e'er with subtler wile The old Tempter did beguile His victim Man from worship pure and true, Assembling whatsoe'er Of holy bright and fair Creation yieldeth to our human view, When to thy name he bade us bend the knee, Fall down before thy shrine, and fondly worship Thee.
For in thy heart did meet Such feelings pure and sweet As never met in woman save in thee; The maid's, the mother's heart, Complete in every part, Woman's meek faith and angel's purity; So Heaven and Earth in thee commingled seem, Whate'er on Earth we love, whate'er of Heaven we dream.
No wanton fancies wild Thy maiden prime beguiled, Nor hopes nor fears of Earth's tumultuous love; But Faith to visions high Unseal'd thy mental eye, And fix'd thy earnest heart on things above. Meet wast thou, and most worthy to behold That glorious angel's face, who thy great doom foretold.
Nor at thy nuptial hour, Nor in thy bridal bower, Might earthly passion and light dalliance be; But o'er thy saintly soul An awful rapture stole, When Heaven's creative power o'ershadow'd
Impregnating thy chaste and virgin womb With Him who died to rise triumphant o'er the tomb.
And when that hour was come,
Didst thou the treasure of thy womb disclose,
Nor did thy bosom know A mother's anxious woe, Her painful pressure of continual care; •Her wakeful hopes and fears, Her secret sighs and tears, When o'er her child, of sin and death the heir, She watcheth with a heart of wild unrest, Lest sickness seize his frame, or sin corrupt his breast.
For he, the immortal, grew,
With tender heart and true,
His bosom free within
From speck or taint of sin, Each act in outward rectitude complete; And in thy lowly home, with reverence mild, Did all thy gentle will, a grave and godly child.
Communion calm and pure Was that which did endure Through childhood's years between his soul and
O'er many a treasured word From his dear accents heard, And breathing wisdom high and love divine, Brooded thy heart until the hour was come, When He for God's great work must leave his tranquil home.
Never on earth till then In all the haunts of men, Did such a mother watch o'er such a child; 'Twas thine alone to see From tenderest infancy To perfect manhood, nature undefiled By act or thought of sin, each day revealing New depths of guileless love, and pure and heavenly feeling.
Say, swell'd thy heart with pride When thou beheld'st him ride In meekest glory, in the after years; While, strewn o'er all his way, Branches and garments lay, And loud Hosannahs, pealing in his ears, Hail'd him the promised king from David's stem Coming' in triumph to his own Jerusalem?