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THE EMIGRANT MOTHER. ONCE in a lonely hamlet I sojourned, In which a lady driven from France did dwell: The big and lesser griess, with which she mourned, In friendship, she to me would often tell. This lady, dwelling upon English ground, Where she was childless, daily would repair To a poor neighbouring cottage ; as I found, For sake of a young child whose home was there. Once, having seen her take with fond embrace This infant to herself, I framed a lay, Endeavouring, in my native tongue, to trace Such things as she unto the child might say: And thus, from what I knew, had heard, and guessed, My song the workings of her heart expressed. “Dear babe, thou daughter of another, One moment let me be thy mother! An infant's face and looks are thine, And sure a mother's heart is mine: Thy own dear mother's far away, At labour in the harvest-field : Thy little sister is at play ; What warmth, what comfort would it yield To my poor heart, if thou wouldst be One little hour a child to me!
“Across the waters I am come,
And I have left a babe at home:
A long, long way of land and sea!
Come to me--I'm no enemy :
I am the same who at thy side
Sate yesterday, and made a ncst
For thee, sweet baby! thou hast tried,
Thou know'st the pillow of my breast;
Good, good art thou; alas to me
Far more than I can be to thee.
“Here, little darling, dost thou lie ;
An infant thou, a mother I !
Mine wilt thou be, thou hast no fears;
Mine art thou-spite of these my tears.
Alas! before I left the spot,
My baby and its dwelling-place;
The nurse said to me, 'Tears should not
Be shed upon an infant's face,
It was unlucky'-no, no, no;
No truth is in them who say so!
“My own dear little one will sigh,
Sweet babe! and they will let him die.
'He pines,' they'll say, “it is his doom.
And you may see his hour is come,'
Oh! had he but thy cheerful smiles,
Limbs stout as thine, and lips as gay,
Thy looks, thy cunning, and thy wiles,
And countenance like a summer's day,
They would have hopes of him and then
I should behold his face again!
" 'Tis gone-like dreams that we forget;
There was a smile or two-yet-yet
I can remember them, I see
The smile worth all the world to me.
Dear baby! I must lay thee down:
Thou troublest me with strange alarms;
Smiles hast thou, bright ones of thine own;
I cannot keep thee in my arms,
By those bewildering glances crossed
In which the light of his is lost.
“Oh! how I love thee !-we still stay
Together here this one half day.
My sister's child, who bears my name,
From France to sheltering England came ;
She with her mother crossed the sea;
The babe and mother near me dwell;
My darling, she is not to me
What thou art! though I love her well:
Rest, little stranger, rest thee here!
Never was any child more dear!
“_I cannot help it-ill intent
I've none, my pretty innocent!
I weep—I know they do thee wrong,
These tears--and my poor idle tongue.
Oh, what a kiss was that! my cheek
How cold it is! but thou art good;
Thine eyes are on me—they would speak,
I think, to help me if they could,
Blessings upon that soft warm face,
My heart again is in its place!
“While thou art mine, my little love,
This cannot be a sorrowful grove;
Contentment, hope, and mother's glee,
I seem to find them all in thee:
Here's grass to play with, here are flowers ;
I'll call thee by my darling s name;
Thou hast, I think, a look of ours,
Thy features seem to me the same;
His little sister thou shalt be :
And, when once more my home I see,
I'll tell him many tales of thee.”
'Tis eight o'clock,--a clear March night,
The moon is up the sky is blue,
The owlet, in the moonlight air,
Shouts, from nobody knows where;
He lengthens out his lonely shout,
Halloo! halloo! a long halloo !
Why bustle thus about your door,
What means this bustle, Betty Foy?
Why are you in this mighty fret?
And why on horseback have you set
Him whom you love, your Idiot Boy?
There's scarce a soul that's out of bed;
Good Betty, put him down again;
His lips with joy they burr at you;
But, Betty! what has he to do
With stirrup, saddle, or with rein?
But Betty's bent on her intent;
For her good neighbour, Susan Gale,
Old Susan, she who dwells alone,
Is sick, and makes a piteous moan,
As if her very life would fail.
There's not a house within a mile,
No hand to help them in distress;
Old Susan lies abed in pain,
And sorely puzzled are the twain,
For what she ails they cannot guess.
And Betty's husband's at the wood,
Where by the week he doth abide,
A woodman in the distant vale;
There's none to help poor Susan Gale;
What must be done? what will betide?
And Betty from the lane has fetched
Her pony, that is mild and good,
Whether he be in joy or pain,
Feeding at will along the lane,
Or bringing faggots from the wood.
And he is all in travelling trim,-
And, by the moonlight, Betty Foy
Has up upon the saddle set
(The like was never heard of yet)
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy.
And he must post without delay
Across the bridge and through the dale,
And by the church, and o'er the down,
To bring a doctor from the town,
Or she will die, old Susan Gale.
There is no need of boot or spur,
There is no need of whip or wand;
For Johnny has his holly-bough,
And with a hurly-burly now
He shakes the green bough in his hand.
And Betty o'er and o'er has told
The boy, who is her best delight,
Both what to follow, what to shun,
What do, and what to leave undone,
How turn to left, and how to right.