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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

The Death of Children

By John Quincy Adams (1767–1848)

[Poems of Religion and Society. 1848.]

SURE, to the mansions of the blest

When infant innocence ascends,

Some angel brighter than the rest

The spotless spirit’s flight attends.

On wings of ecstasy they rise,

Beyond where worlds material roll

Till some fair sister of the skies

Receives the unpolluted soul.

There, at the Almighty Father’s hand,

Nearest the throne of living light,

The choirs of infant seraphs stand,

And dazzling shine, where all are bright.

That inextinguishable beam,

With dust united at our birth,

Sheds a more dim, discolored gleam,

The more it lingers upon earth.

Closed in this dark abode of clay,

The stream of glory faintly burns,

Nor unobscured the lucid ray

To its own native fount returns.

But when the Lord of mortal breath

Decrees his bounty to resume,

And points the silent shaft of death,

Which speeds an infant to the tomb—

No passion fierce, no low desire,

Has quenched the radiance of the flame;

Back to its God the living fire

Returns unsullied, as it came.