Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DYING CHILD, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE DYING CHILD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Her cheek is flushed with fever red
Last Line: There, there, my child, lie down and die!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Death - Children; Guilt; Pain; Poverty; Death - Babies; Suffering; Misery


My God! and is the daily page of lite
Darken'd with wretchedness like this?

HER cheek is flush'd with fever red;
Her little hand burns in my own;
Alas! and does pain rack her sleep?
Speak! for I cannot bear that moan.

Yet sleep, I do not wish to look
Again within those languid eyes;
Sleep, though again the heavy lash
May never from their beauty rise.

-- Aid, hope for me? -- now hold thy peace,
And take that healing cup away:
Life, length of life, to that poor child! --
It is not life for which I pray.

Why should she live for pain, for toil,
For wasted frame, and broken heart;
Till life has only left, in death,
With his base fear of death to part?

How could I bear to see her youth
Bow'd to the dust by abject toil,
Till misery urge the soul to guilt,
From which its nature would recoil?

The bitterness of poverty,
The shame that adds the worst to woe, --
I think upon the life I've known,
Upon the life that I shall know.

Look through yon street, -- a hundred lamps
Are lighting up the revels there, --
Hark! you can hear the distant laugh
Blending with music on the air.

The rich dwell there who know not want;
Who loathe that wretchedness whose name
Is there an unfamiliar sound: --
Why is not my estate the same?

I may have sinn'd, and punishment
For that most ignorant sin incur;
But be the curse upon my head, --
Oh, let it not descend to her!

Sleep, dear one! 'tis a weary world;
Sleep the sweet slumber of the grave!
Vex me no more with thy vain words:
What worth is that you seek to save?

Tears -- tears -- I shame that I should weep;
I thought my heart had nerved my eye;
I should be thankful, and I will, --
There, there, my child, lie down and die!





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