Sometimes we mortals, writhing in bitter anguish,
Crushed by great griefs, that seem too hard to bear,
And led to doubt God's goodness and his wisdom,
And will not lift our burdened hearts in prayer.
I think these moments are the very darkest,
The blackest and the coldest that we know,
And I think God, and Christ, and all the angels,
Pity us most, in this phase of our woe.
I had a little child I fondly cherished;
A winsome, playful, tender-hearted boy,
Strong willed, yet gentle, gay, yet mild and loving,
He was our household idol and our joy.
We lavished on him stores of pure affection;
We gave him the best love our hearts possessed,
We dressed him in rich robes of finest texture,
And gazing on him, felt this earth life-blest.
We taught him all things good, and true, and noble;
We told him of the dear Lord crucified;
We planned for him a bright and happy future;
We guarded him from danger--yet he died.
Not all the gold and riches we might lavish,
Not all our gold could save him from the tomb.
He died! and when the sweet eyes closed forever,
They shut the sunshine in, and left but gloom.
To-day I saw a drunkard's child--a vagrant;
Ill-clad, ill-fed, uncombed, unwashed, and wild;
His home the street--his lessons vice and sorrow--
His garments rags--his youthful lips defiled
With rum, tobacco, lies and loud blaspheming;
What can his future be, but one of crime?
And thinking of this, and of my boy who slumbered,
My heart felt hard, just for a little time.
It seemed so strange, that he, a homeless vagrant,
Unloved, unloving, treading the road to sin,
That he was spared; and mine so fondly cherished--
Mine so beloved, whose life seemed so twined in
And round our heart strings, that when he was taken,
It left them torn and bleeding--he should die;
Ah me, it seemeth strange; and yet God's wisdom
I can not doubt, nor must I question why.
He, being all-wise, Father, King, Creator,
It would be strange, if you, or I should know
All that He knows, or understand His wisdom,
All things He does, or why He does them so.
Were all this plain, unto our mortal vision,
There would be nothing new to learn above;
So, though the cross be great, and the prize hidden,
I need not doubt His wisdom or His love.
Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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