A Child Asleep


    How he sleepeth! having drunken
    Weary childhood's mandragore,
    From his pretty eyes have sunken
    Pleasures, to make room for more
    Sleeping near the withered nosegay, which he pulled the day before.

    Nosegays! leave them for the waking:
    Throw them earthward where they grew.
    Dim are such, beside the breaking
    Amaranths he looks unto
    Folded eyes see brighter colours than the open ever do.

    Heaven-flowers, rayed by shadows golden
    From the paths they sprang beneath,
    Now perhaps divinely holden,
    Swing against him in a wreath
    We may think so from the quickening of his bloom and of his breath.

    Vision unto vision calleth,
    While the young child dreameth on.
    Fair, O dreamer, thee befalleth
    With the glory thou hast won!
    Darker wert thou in the garden, yestermorn, by summer sun.

    We should see the spirits ringing
    Round thee, were the clouds away.
    'Tis the child-heart draws them, singing
    In the silent-seeming clay
    Singing! Stars that seem the mutest, go in music all the way.

    As the moths around a taper,
    As the bees around a rose,
    As the gnats around a vapour,
    So the Spirits group and close
    Round about a holy childhood, as if drinking its repose.

    Shapes of brightness overlean thee,
    Flash their diadems of youth
    On the ringlets which half screen thee,
    While thou smilest, . . . not in sooth
    Thy smile . . . but the overfair one, dropt from some aethereal mouth.

    Haply it is angels' duty,
    During slumber, shade by shade:
    To fine down this childish beauty
    To the thing it must be made,
    Ere the world shall bring it praises, or the tomb shall see it fade.

    Softly, softly! make no noises!
    Now he lieth dead and dumb
    Now he hears the angels' voices
    Folding silence in the room
    Now he muses deep the meaning of the Heaven-words as they come.

    Speak not! he is consecrated
    Breathe no breath across his eyes.
    Lifted up and separated,
    On the hand of God he lies,
    In a sweetness beyond touching held in cloistral sanctities.

    Could ye bless him father mother ?
    Bless the dimple in his cheek?
    Dare ye look at one another,
    And the benediction speak?
    Would ye not break out in weeping, and confess yourselves too weak?

    He is harmless ye are sinful,
    Ye are troubled he, at ease:
    From his slumber, virtue winful
    Floweth outward with increase
    Dare not bless him! but be blessed by his peace and go in peace.


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