Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MOORLAND CHILD, by THOMAS WESTWOOD

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THE MOORLAND CHILD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Upon the bleak and barren moor
Last Line: "and god's exceeding pity!"
Subject(s): Children; Childhood

UPON the bleak and barren moor
I met a wandering child;
Her cheeks were pale, her hair hung lank,
Her sunken eyes gleamed wild.

"And have you no kind mother, child?"
I asked, with softened tone.
"My mother went away lang syne,
And left me here alone.

"'Twas in the winter weather, black,
The night lay on the moor;
The angry winds went howling by
Our creaking cottage door.

"My mother lay upon her bed,
She shook and shivered sore;
She clasped me in her trembling arms,
She kissed me o'er and o'er.

"I knelt beside her on the ground,
I wailed in bitter sorrow;
The wind without upon the moor
My wailing seemed to borrow.

"My mother strove to soothe my grief;
But while she spoke, alas!
Across her sunken face I saw
A sudden shadow pass.

"And she fell back, so weak and wan, --
Oh! Sir, I never heard
Her voice again, or caught the sound
Of one fond, farewell word!

"The black winds blew -- my eyes were dry;
I hushed my bitter moan,
But I knew that she was gone away,
And I was left alone.

"The black winds blew -- the heavy hail
On hill and holt was driven;
But she went up the golden stair,
And through the gate of heaven.

"They bore her to the churchyard grave;
The little daisies love it;
But I never sit the mound beside,
Nor shed a tear above it.

"My mother is not there; in dreams,
When winter woods are hoary,
I see her on the golden stair,
Beside the gate of glory.

"Her eyes are calm, her forehead shines,
Amid the heavenly splendor;
On earth her face was kind, but ne'er
Wore smiles so sweet and tender.

"And, Sir, one night, not long ago, --
December storms were beating, --
I heard her voice, so fond and dear,
Float down, my name repeating.

"The fir-trees rocked upon the hill,
And blast to blast was calling --
She said, 'The earth is dark and drear;
Come home, come home, my darling!'

"The black winds blew -- the heavy hail
On hill and holt was driven --
She said, 'Come up the golden stair,
And through the gate of heaven!'

"And soon, oh soon!" -- but here speech
Broke off; a sudden lightness
Passed o'er the child's pale cheek and brow,
As with a sunbeam's brightness, --

And she went wandering o'er the moor,
Low crooning some wild ditty: --
"God's calm," I said, "be on her shed,
And God's exceeding pity!"

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