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Come, maids and matrons, to caress
Wiesbaden's gentle hind;
And, smiling, deck its glossy neck
With forest flowers entwined.
'Twas after church - on Ascension day -
When organs ceased to sound,
Wiesbaden's people crowded gay
The deer park's pleasant ground.
Here came a twelve years' married pair -
And with them wander'd free
Seven sons and daughters, blooming fair,
A gladsome sight to see!
Their Wilhelm, little innocent,
The youngest of the seven,
Was beautiful as painters' paint -
The cherubim of heaven.
By turns he gave his hand, so dear,
To parent, sister, brother,
And each, that he was safe and near,
Confided in the other.
But Wilhelm loved the field-flowers bright,
With love beyond all measure;
And cull'd them with as keen delight
As misers gather treasure.
Unnoticed, he contrived to glide
Adown a greenwood alley,
By lilies lured - that grew beside
A streamlet in the valley;
And there, where under beech and birch
The rivulet meander'd,
He stray'd, till neither shout nor search,
Could track where he had wander'd.
Still louder, with increasing dread,
They call'd his darling name:
But 'twas like speaking to the dead -
An echo only came.
Hours pass'd till evening's beetle roams,
And blackbird's songs begin;
Then all went back to happy homes,
Save Wilhelm's kith and kin.
The night came on - all others slept
Their cares away till morn;
But sleepless, all night watch'd and wept
That family forlorn.
Betimes the town-crier had been sent
With loud bell up and down;
And told th' afflicting accident
Throughout Wiesbaden's town.
The news reach'd Nassau's Duke - ere earth
Was gladden'd by the lark,
He sent a hundred solders forth
To ransack all his park.
But though they roused up beast and bird
From many a nest and den,
No signal of success was heard
From all the hundred men.
A second morning's light expands,
Unfound the infant fair;
And Wilhelm's household wring their hands,
Abandon'd to despair.
But, haply, a poor artizan
Search'd ceaselessly, till he
Found safe asleep the little one,
Beneath a birchen tree.
His hand still grasp'd a bunch of flowers;
And - true, though wondrous - near,
To sentry his reposing hours,
There stood a female deer,
Who dipp'd her horns at all that pass'd
The spot where Wilhelm lay;
Till force was had to hold her fast,
And bear the boy away.
Hail! sacred love of childhood - hail!
How sweet it is to trace
Thine instinct in Creation's scale,
Even 'neath the human race.
To this poor wanderer of the wild
Speech, reason were unknown -
And yet she watch'd a sleeping child,
As if it were her own!
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"The Child and the Hind" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 26 Nov. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/36123/the-child-and-the-hind>.