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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

For Charlie’s Sake

By John Williamson Palmer (1825–1906)

[Folk Songs. Revised Edition. 1867.]

THE NIGHT is late, the house is still,

The angels of the hour fulfil

Their tender ministries, and move

From couch to couch, in cares of love.

They drop into thy dreams, sweet wife,

The happiest smile of Charlie’s life,

And lay on Baby’s lips a kiss

Fresh from his angel-brother’s bliss;

And as they pass, they seem to make

A strange, dim hymn, “For Charlie’s sake!”

My listening heart takes up the strain,

And gives it to the night again,

Fitted with words of lowly praise,

And patience learned of mournful days,

And memories of the dead child’s ways.

His will be done, His will be done!

Who gave, and took away, my son—

In the far land to shine and sing

Before the Beautiful, the King,

Who every day doth Christmas make,

All starred and belled for Charlie’s sake.

For Charlie’s sake I will arise;

I will anoint me where he lies,

And change my raiment, and go in

To the Lord’s house, leaving my sin

Without, and seat me at His board,

Eat, and be glad, and praise the Lord.

For wherefore should I fast and weep,

And sullen moods of mourning keep?

I cannot bring him back, nor he,

For any calling, come to me:

The bond the angel Death did sign,

God sealed—for Charlie’s sake and mine.

I’m very poor—his slender stone

Marks all the narrow field I own;

Yet, patient husbandman. I till

With faith and prayers that precious hill,

Sow it with penitential pains,

And, hopeful, wait the latter rains:

Content if, after all, the spot

Yield barely one forget-me-not;

Whether or figs or thistles make

My crop—content, for Charlie’s sake.

The angels of the hour fulfil

I have no houses, builded well—

Only that little lonesome cell,

Where never romping playmates come,

Nor bashful sweethearts, cunning-dumb:

An April burst of girls and boys,

Their rainbowed cloud of griefs and joys

Born with their songs, gone with their toys;

Nor ever is its stillness stirred

By purr of cat, or chirp of bird,

Or mother’s twilight legend, told

Of Horner’s pie or Tiddler’s gold,

Or Fairy, hobbling to the door,

Red-cloaked and weird, banned and poor,

To bless the good child’s gracious eyes,

The good child’s wistful charities,

And crippled Changeling’s hunch to make

Dance on his crutch, for Good Child’s sake.

How is it with the lad?—’Tis well;

Nor would I any miracle

Might stir my sleeper’s tranquil trance,

Or plague his painless countenance;

I would not any Seer might place

His staff on my immortal’s face,

Or lip to lip, and eye to eye,

Charm back his pale mortality:

No, Shunammite! I would not break

God’s quiet. Let them weep who wake.

For Charlie’s sake my lot is blest:

No comfort like his mother’s breast,

No praise like hers; no charm exprest

In fairest forms hath half her zest.

For Charlie’s sake this bird’s carest

That Death left lonely in the nest.

For Charlie’s sake my heart is drest,

As for its birthday, in its best.

For Charlie’s sake we leave the rest

To Him who gave, and who did take,

And saved us twice—for Charlie’s sake.