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  Johanna  

 

'Twas a balmy day in Autumn,
In the drowsy, dreamy Autumn,
When from out the quiet woodland
Sounds of rustling leaves came only--
Leaves that floated softly earthward--
And the streamlets had a murmur
Such as wanders through our visions
In the hushed and starry midnight--
Low, soft murmur, full of music.

With the small hand of her darling
Clasped in her's, there came a mother
To an Artist--fondly asking
For the picture of her pet-lamb--
Winsome pet-lamb full of child-life,
Full of merry, ringing laughter--
Laughter that went up unceasing
Like the happy chime of streamlets
Singing thro' some mountain valley,--
Like the bird-song in the forest
In the time of early roses,--
Like the tinkle of sweet waters
Dripping o'er a marble fountain.

And the child's glad eyes grew brighter
As she saw her own sweet image
From its little case look smiling
Back upon her radiant features--
Saw the clustering curls fall softly
Round the peach-blow neck and bosom,--
Saw the lips, two tiny rose-buds,
And the scarce-shown pearls that edged them,--
And the quivering, laughing lashes
Of the eager eyes were lifted
In glad wonder, as she murmured
"Oh, it's pretty!--ain't it, ma ma?"

Came another day in Autumn--
Gloomy, sad, tempestuous Autumn--
And from out the moaning forest
Came the sound of rushing tempests
As they dashed the sere leaves downward
From the darkly tossing branches,--
And the turbid streams were chafing
With the rush of swollen waters
That, in tones all hoarse and angry,
To the rude winds made replying.

With the hot hand of her darling
Clasped in hers, that same fond mother
O'er a little couch was bending,
Where her little lamb lay moaning
In unquiet fevered slumbers.
Oft the blue-veined lids would tremble
O'er the half-veiled eyes, and sadly--
Painfully the lips would quiver,
As the sobbing breath came slowly
From the scarcely heaving bosom

Ah! that little lamb was treading
'Mid the shadows of the valley!--
And her spirit-ear, affrighted,
Just had caught the nearer murmur
Of the death-stream cold and sullen
Haply, wond'ring at the darkness
That was slowly settling round her.

But it passed, and o'er those features
Slowly broke a smile, so holy
That we deemed the angels gathered
Round her in the gloomy valley.
Then the life-light gently faded
From those eyes, as fades the sunset
From the peaceful summer heavens,--
Stiller grew the little bosom,--
And the sobbing breath grew fainter,--
And the fading smile more sweetly
Played around those lips, till slumber--
Strange, deep slumber slowly settled
In its marble stillness o'er her.

Ah!--that little tear-stained image
Now, is all that's left thee, mother,
Of thy little, dark-eyed daughter!
Ever, as it smiles upon thee
From its tiny case, how keenly
Will thy heart-strings thrill with anguish.
As that voice again comes to thee,
And again those sweet lips murmur--
"Oh it's pretty!--ain't it, ma-ma?"

       - Mrs. J. C. Yule


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