[from Island Minstrelsy, 1839]


" Oh! there is mildew in the lapse
Of a few miserable years!"

My childhood's prayer! my childhood's prayer!
'Tis ringing ever in mine ear,
With memories of sweet days that were
When earth was new, and hope was dear;
When not a cloud, or sigh, or tear
Seemed traced within my horoscope, —
Nor bitter pang, nor burning fear,
But all things whispered hope, sweet hope!
Alas! there hath been sin and care
Between nre and my childhood's prayer.

My childhood's prayer!-its tones have died,
Time! ever o'er this sea of thine ;
And deeds and days and thoughts of pride
Have traced a fearful fiery sign
Upon this fated heart of mine: —
Thank God, that desolating woe
Cannot efface from its cold shrine
The simple prayer of "long ago!" —
Oh! ever freshly, greenly there,
Is flourishing my childhood's prayer.

My childhood's prayer !-oh, not one flower
But minds me of its purity, —

The lowliest daisy in the bower
Brings back that gentle prayer to me,
With all the joys of infancy: —
I never look upon a star
But that its radiance seems to be
A beacon from the days afar —
A memory of joys that were
All fleeting-but my childhood's prayer.

My childhood's prayer !-each infant tone
Was lisped beside my mother's knee:
Alas! my heart hath harder grown;
Beneath a chilling destiny:
Yet never from my memory
Shall fade the beautiful, the true
Sweet guardian of mine infancy,
This heart still fondly clings to you; —
Each snowy thread 'mid thy dark hair
Seems murmuring of my childhood's prayer.

My childhood's prayer!-its tones have fled,
Its first fresh feelings all are flown ; -
My feelings now are cold and dead;- .
Alas! the world seems darker grown: —
And that home circle-they-mine own —
Oh! they are scattered far and wide;
Their destinies are dim-unknown —
Their life is now a troubled tide;
They-they who were so free from care,
When murmuring our childhood's prayer.

And she-that pale and gentle child,
With wavy locks of golden hair=
She that had eyes so blue, so mild, —
Oh, she was very, very fair,
Like what I've fancied angels were;
And then there was a black-eyed boy,
One whom methought we could not spare,
He was so much my father's joy-
They slumber where the earthworms are,
They breathe no. more our childhood's prayer.

My childhood's prayer !-the gentle dead,
The living bring it to my heart ;
Tho' time hath bleach'd each parent's head
And sped forth many a withering dart,
And made the destinies apart
Of kindred souls that should have blended, —
And bade earth's vanities depart,
And youth's most gorgeous dreams be ended;
Yet all things holy, fresh, and fair
Seem murmuring of that early prayer.

Alone, at the deep, dead midnight,
Upon a tossed and weary bed, —
Or wandering by the pale moon's light
Amid the shunberings of the dead, —
Or when day's parting glory shed
A dreamy glow o'er earth and skies, —
Or when the mists of twilight spread,
Deceptive, o'er realities, —
Oh! every hour and every where
Hath haunted me that early prayer.

There have been hours of deep distress —
There have been years of grief and care —
There hath been utter wretchedness —

A darkness that could think no prayer;
Yet in the darkest days that were,
A gentle voice from bygone years
Thrilled to the brink of black despair,
And gave the sinner words and tears
Yes, I have wept, and pleaded there
My childhood's prayer! my childhood's prayer!


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004