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For A Child

Harriet Monroe 1860 (Chicago) – 1936 (Arequipa)

E. H. M.
Nov. 17th, 1890—Feb. 13th, 1904

Still he lies,
Pale, wan, and strangely wise.
Under the white coverlet
He lies here sleeping yet,
Though it is day,
Though through the window flares the gaudy day.

With red red roses strewn—
Little red roses smelling sweet of June—
He sleeps the winter dawn away.
The pink and gilded valentines are there
He fingered yesterday;
The toy beasts guard him unaware—
Jumbo the elephant, and Watch the dog,
And Strawberry the big brown furry bear—
The three he kept with him,
Who always slept with him,
Sleep not but stare, like shore lights in a fog.
All is the same—
Table and chairs, the picture in its frame,
The books with covers gay,
And now, the day!—
There through the window flares the gaudy day.

Would it were night, since in my heart is night;
Softly-caressing, blinding, deadening night,
That won him from me! Would that we—we two,
Wound close together soft in folds of white,
Were buried deep in darkness! From the night
Love called him years ago—from the dim blue
Of shadow-souls that throng about the earth
Waiting for birth.
And when the moons were run,
Through blackest night, the windy night of pain,
We rose—we twain—
Into the path of the sun,
And saw God pass to light the world anew.
Now all is done,
The torch is burned away—
Yet it is day!
Now through the window flares the gaudy day.

Did you speak, little one?
At your locked lips I listen evermore.
Say, do you play upon the starry floor,
And pluck the anemone and asphodel
In happy groves, a happy child forever?
Will you not tell?
Or in some spirit world, melodious, clear,
Where life, at truce with death, shall perish never—
There, in high union with harmonious powers,
Will your fair soul to perfect stature rear
And wisdom of a man? And will you be
God's hero, riding out the sun-long hours
To bear to captive stars their liberty?
Or in the heaven of heavens,
Ringed round with seraphim by threes and sevens,
Wrapt deep in holiness intolerable,
Will you the glory of God in raptures tell
Of praise, praise—joy and praise,
Through the unending days?
My little one, will you not speak to me—
To me, who ever heard
Your softest baby word?
Will you tell nothing—nothing? Can you be
Forgetful now and shut your eyes away—
Now it is day,
Now through the window flares the gaudy day?

Me ignorant and impotent and blind !
I look before and after, and unwind
Intricate webs of thought,
By saints and sages wrought,
Only to weave a vapor of the mind
Here between you and me.
All weariness, except that on my breast
Your warm and rosy flesh could softly rest,
And now my dazed eyes see,
Tricked out in mockery,
A heap of ashes marbled with your smile.
Almost I hear the patter of little feet

Your dancing hours repeat.
Almost I hear
Your twitter of laughter at my ear,
And suddenly feel soft arms around me,
As though love crowned me.
Dreams of the night, softly they flit away,
For it is day—
Now through the window flares the gaudy day.

Smiling you dare set forth, quick to the call.
Out of my arms into that far unknown
Swiftly you run, nor seem to fear at all.
Don't you know we are one—yes, bone of bone,
Flesh of my flesh, soul of my very soul?
Whither thou goest I must go, or be
A coward thing, ever at war with thee,
Laggard and lost while thou art at the goal.
Ah, leave me not now at the sunrise hour!
Pause but to take my hand
And give the high indomitable command,
And I will mount with thee the topmost tower.
Show me the way,
Now it is day—
Now through the window flares the gaudy day.

Ah, dost thou rise before me,
Braver than I to meet the intrepid morn?
Dost thou implore me
To shut thy silent shadow-house forlorn,
And turn me from its locked and leaden gate
With heart elate?
Oh, shall I don my jewelled robe, and so,
With flourish of flutes and banners all aglow,
Forth to the triumph go?
The hills are hung with purple mist
Beyond thy sepulchre.
There death and life have newly kissed,
For thou art early astir.
There, wedded now who once were twain,
From truth to truth they rise,
And thou shalt lead me in their train
And teach me to be wise.
Not far, not far
I follow where thy footsteps are,
And take from thee
The cup of immortality.
Here in my little place—
My little house of time and space—
Why s
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:59 min read

Harriet Monroe

Harriet Monroe was an American editor, scholar, literary critic, poet and patron of the arts. more…

All Harriet Monroe poems | Harriet Monroe Books

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    "For A Child" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/16888/for-a-child>.

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