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The Virgin Mary To The Child Jesus
by [?]


But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her babe to rest.

Milton.

I.

Sleep, sleep, mine Holy One!
My flesh, my Lord!–what name? I do not know
A name that seemeth not too high or low,
Too far from me or heaven.
My Jesus, that is best! that word being given
By the majestic angel whose command
Was softly as a man’s beseeching said,
When I and all the earth appeared to stand
In the great overflow
Of light celestial from his wings and head.
Sleep, sleep, my saving One!

II.

And art Thou come for saving, baby-browed
And speechless Being–art Thou come for saving?
The palm that grows beside our door is bowed
By treadings of the low wind from the south,
A restless shadow through the chamber waving:
Upon its bough a bird sings in the sun;
But Thou, with that close slumber on thy mouth,
Dost seem of wind and sun already weary.
Art come for saving, O my weary One?

III.

Perchance this sleep that shutteth out the dreary
Earth-sounds and motions, opens on Thy soul
High dreams on fire with God;
High songs that make the pathways where they roll
More bright than stars do theirs; and visions new
Of Thine eternal nature’s old abode.
Suffer this mother’s kiss,
Best thing that earthly is,
To guide the music and the glory through,
Nor narrow in Thy dream the broad upliftings
Of any seraph wing!
Thus, noiseless, thus. Sleep, sleep, my dreaming One!

IV.

The slumber of His lips meseems to run
Through my lips to mine heart; to all its shiftings
Of sensual life, bring contrariousness
In a great calm. I feel, I could lie down
As Moses did, and die,[M]–and then live most.
I am ‘ware of you, heavenly Presences,
That stand with your peculiar light unlost,
Each forehead with a high thought for a crown,
Unsunned i’ the sunshine! I am ‘ware. Yet throw
No shade against the wall! How motionless
Ye round me with your living statuary,
While through your whiteness, in and outwardly,
Continual thoughts of God appear to go,
Like light’s soul in itself! I bear, I bear,
To look upon the dropt lids of your eyes,
Though their external shining testifies
To that beatitude within, which were
Enough to blast an eagle at his sun.
I fall not on my sad clay face before ye;
I look on His. I know
My spirit which dilateth with the woe
Of His mortality,
May well contain your glory.
Yea, drop your lids more low,
Ye are but fellow-worshippers with me!
Sleep, sleep, my worshipped One!

V.

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem.
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horned faces
To almost human gazes
Towards the newly born.
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought visionary looks,
As yet in their astonished hearing rung
The strange, sweet angel-tongue.
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh and gold,
These baby hands were impotent to hold.
So, let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state!
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

VI.

I am not proud–meek angels, ye invest
New meeknesses to hear such utterance rest
On mortal lips,–“I am not proud”–not proud!
Albeit in my flesh God sent His Son,
Albeit over Him my head is bowed
As others bow before Him, still mine heart
Bows lower than their knees. O centuries
That roll, in vision, your futurities
My future grave athwart,–
Whose murmurs seem to reach me while I keep
Watch o’er this sleep,–
Say of me as the heavenly said,–“Thou art
The blessedest of women!”–blessedest,
Not holiest, not noblest,–no high name,
Whose height misplaced may pierce me like a shame,
When I sit meek in heaven!