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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: When good old jacob mourn'd his child
Last Line: Its hopes and fears, and fly to god.
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Death - Children; Mourning; Parents; Death - Babies; Bereavement; Parenthood

WHEN good old Jacob mourn'd his child,
How bitter were the tears he shed!
With garments rent, in anguish wild,
He sorrow'd for his Joseph dead.
He mourn'd his hopes for ever fled,
And said that, even to his tomb,
Grief should bow down his aged head
For Joseph's melancholy doom.

But hark! what sounds salute my ear?
Sorrow inspires the artless lay;
A pious parent's frequent tear
Laments her Joseph snatch'd away.
But, though to deepest grief a prey,
She humbly strives to kiss the rod;
She owns the debt that all must pay,
Nor doubts the justice of her God.

But let us not too harshly blame
The good old patriarch's anguish sore;
Well might his much lov'd Joseph claim
A father's sorrow when no more:
Nor can the proud, the boasted lore
Of this refin'd, enlighten'd age,
A mother's lost delights restore,
A mother's natural grief assuage.

What makes the difference? Grace alone;
'Tis grace divine, with cheering ray,
Hath made a brighter prospect known—
Hath usher'd in a happier day.
The patriarch trod his weary way,
No gospel sun had dawn'd on him;
'Twas his at twilight's hour to stray,
When truth's clear lamp shone pale and dim.

Yet even then the still small voice,
Assuming a prophetic tone,
Oft bade his trembling heart rejoice
In scenes unveil'd to faith alone,
By faith's pure influence made his own:
With humble gratitude inspir'd,
He blest the glorious light that shone
On Judah, and in hope expir'd.

The patriarch's hope, the prophet's theme,
The pious christian's heart-felt joy
At length is come; its matchless scheme
Hath been proclaim'd from heaven on high:
Light, life, and immortality
Now shine reveal'd; beyond the tomb
The Christian's vision can descry
A blissful rest, a tranquil home.

And wilt thou, Christian! then lament
(Like him whose every hope is fled,)
When life's short feverish day is spent,
Those whom it numbers with the dead?
No, rather lift thy weary head,
Raise from the dust thy tearful eye,
When nature's pious drops are shed,
Let faith her cordial cup apply.

For thee, who pour'st thy plaintive strain,
Lament no more thy Joseph's flight
From scenes of sorrow, sin, and pain,
To realms of endless, pure delight.
At times shall burst upon thy sight
A seraph form, thy griefs to calm,
Scattering, from pinions dazzling bright,
Kind drops of Gilead's healing balm.

Hovering unseen thy steps around
Its soothing voice shall greet thy ear;
Shall tell what blessings still abound,
And gently chide the falling tear.
A husband's sympathy sincere
In grief's dark hour some stay may prove;
One hopeful pledge is left to cheer
Thy closing days with filial love.

Thine too that gentle soothing aid
Which friendship yields the wounded heart;
Does pining grief thy breast invade?
Let willing friendship bear her part.
Do pensive tears unbidden start,
As memory brings the past to view?
Let faithful friendship's blameless art
Share every pang, and heal it too.

But friendship soon or late must prove,
On earth at least, a fleeting dream;
Both conjugal and filial love
May shed a bright but transient beam.
When these decay, and life would seem
A barren waste, a gloomy void;
Then, what a source of bliss supreme
Is found in talents well employ'd.

Thine is that bliss; then oh! what cause
For heart-felt gratitude is thine;
In death's dread hour the heart's applause
Can yield a pleasure half divine.
If at that hour unclouded shine
That path which all the just have trod,
The soul with rapture shall resign
Its hopes and fears, and fly to God.

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