by: John Pierpont (1785-1866)
- CANNOT make him dead!
- His fair sunshiny head
- Is ever bounding round my study chair;
- Yet, when my eyes, now dim
- With tears, I turn to him,
- The vision vanishes -- he is not there!
- I walk my parlor floor,
- And through the open door
- I hear a footfall on the chamber stair;
- I'm stepping toward the hall
- to give the boy a call;
- And then bethink me that -- he is not there!
- I thread the crowded street;
- A satchelled lad I meet,
- With the same beaming eyes and colored hair:
- And, as he's running by,
- Follow him with my eye,
- Scarcely believing that -- he is not there!
- I know his face is hid
- Under the coffin-lid;
- Closed are his eyes; cold is his forehead fair;
- My hand that marble felt;
- O'er it in prayer I knelt;
- Yet my heart whispers that -- he is not there!
- I cannot make him dead!
- When passing by the bed,
- So long watched over with parental care,
- My spirit and my eye
- Seek it inquiringly,
- Before the thought comes that -- he is not there!
- When, at the cool, gray break
- Of day, from sleep I wake,
- With my first breathing of the morning air
- My soul goes up, with joy,
- To Him who gave my boy,
- Then comes the sad thought that -- he is not there!
- When at the day's calm close,
- Before we seek repose,
- I'm with his mother, offering up our prayer,
- Whate'er I may be saying,
- I am, in spirit, praying
- For our boy's spirit, though -- he is not there!
- Not there! Where, then, is he?
- The form I used to see
- Was but the raimant that he used to wear;
- The grave that now doth press
- Upon that cast-off dress,
- Is but his wardrobe locked; -- he is not there!
- He lives! In all the past
- He lives; nor, to the last,
- Of seeing him again will I despair;
- In dreams I see him now;
- And, on his angel brow,
- I see it written, "Thou shalt see me there!"
- Yes, we all live to God!
- Father, thy chastening rod
- So help us, thine afflicted ones, to bear,
- That, in the spirit-land,
- Meeting at thy right hand,
- 'Twill be our heaven to find -- that he is there!
POEMS BY JOHN PIERPONT
"My Child" is reprinted
from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.