Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
VI. Consolation
For Charlie’s Sake
John Williamson Palmer (1825–1906)
 
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,        5
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.”        10
 
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.        15
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 does Christmas make,        20
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, and leave my sin        25
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,        30
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—this slender stone
Marks all the narrow field I own;        35
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        40
Yield barely one forget-me-not—
Whether or figs or thistle make
My crop content for Charlie’s sake.
 
I have no houses, builded well—
Only that little lonesome cell,        45
Where never romping playmates come,
Nor bashful sweethearts, cunning-dumb—
An April burst of girls and boys,
Their rainbowed cloud of glooms and joys
Born with their songs, gone with their toys;        50
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,        55
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.        60
 
How is it with the child? ’T is 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        65
His staff on my immortal’s face.
Or lip to lip, and eye to eye,
Charm back his pale mortality.
No, Shunamite! I would not break
God’s stillness. Let them weep who wake.        70
 
For Charlie’s sake my lot is blest:
No comfort like his mother’s breast,
No praise like hers; no charm expressed
In fairest forms hath half her zest.
For Charlie’s sake this bird ’s caressed        75
That death left lonely in the nest;
For Charlie’s sake my heart is dressed,
As for its birthday, in its best;
For Charlie’s sake we leave the rest
To Him who gave, and who did take,        80
And saved us twice, for Charlie’s sake.
 
 
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