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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the French. The Angel and the Child

  • (L’Ange et l’Enfant; Elégie à une Mère)
    By Jean Reboul, the Baker of Nismes

  • AN ANGEL with a radiant face,

    Above a cradle bent to look,

    Seemed his own image there to trace,

    As in the waters of a brook.

    “Dear child! who me resemblest so,”

    It whispered, “come, oh come with me!

    Happy together let us go,

    The earth unworthy is of thee!

    “Here none to perfect bliss attain;

    The soul in pleasure suffering lies;

    Joy hath an undertone of pain,

    And even the happiest hours their sighs.

    “Fear doth at every portal knock;

    Never a day serene and pure

    From the o’ershadowing tempest’s shock

    Hath made the morrow’s dawn secure.

    “What, then, shall sorrows and shall fears

    Come to disturb so pure a brow?

    And with the bitterness of tears

    These eyes of azure troubled grow?

    “Ah no! into the fields of space,

    Away shalt thou escape with me;

    And Providence will grant thee grace

    Of all the days that were to be.

    “Let no one in thy dwelling cower,

    In sombre vestments draped and veiled;

    But let them welcome thy last hour,

    As thy first moments once they hailed.

    “Without a cloud be there each brow;

    There let the grave no shadow cast;

    When one is pure as thou art now,

    The fairest day is still the last.”

    And waving wide his wings of white,

    The angel, at these words, had sped

    Towards the eternal realms of light!—

    Poor mother! see, thy son is dead!