O DEAREST my sister, my sister who sits by the hearth,
With lids softly drooping, or lifted up saintly and calm,
With household hands folded, or opened for help and for balm,
And lips, ripe and dewy, or ready for innocent mirth,--
Thy life rises upwards to heaven everyday like a psalm
Which the singer sings sleeping, and waked, would half wondering say--
'I sang not. Nay, how could I sing thus?--I only do pray.'
O gentlest my sister, who walks in at every dark door
Whether bolted or open, unheedful of welcome or frown;
But entering silent as sunlight, and there sitting down,
Illumines the damp walls and shines pleasant shapes on the floor,
And unlocks dim chambers where low lies sad Hope, without crown,
Uplifts her from sackcloth and ashes and black mourning weeds,
Re-crowns and re-clothes her.--Then, on to the next door that needs.
O blessed my sister, whose spirit so wholly dost live
In loving, that even the word 'loved,' with its rapturous sound,
Rings faintly, like earth-tunes when angels are hymning around:
Whose eyes say: 'Less happy methinks to receive than to give.'--
So whatsoever we give, may One give to thee without bound,
All best gifts--all dearest gifts--whether His right hand do close
Or open--He holds it forever above thee;--He knows!