Why into that darkened chamber
Walk you with such noiseless tread?
No slumbering one will awaken–
The sheeted form is dead.
Why gaze on the rigid features,
So white in death’s embrace,
With such look of awe and pity?
‘Tis only the same old face.
Why touch you now so tender
The hands that silent lay?
They’re only the sunburned fingers
That toiled for you night and day.
Why now, with your tear-dimmed vision,
So softly do you press
Upon the wrinkled forehead
Your lips in sad caress?
How much of care had lighted
That lingering, loving kiss,
Had you in life but gave it–
You never thought of this.
No loving hand e’er brightened
Her life with tender care,
No mother’s baby-kisses
Were ever hers to share.
Only for others caring,
The long, long years have fled;
Now, only, they say,–the neighbors–
“Poor old Aunt Lucy’s dead.”
And they whisper a girl’s ambition,
A name in the world to make;
‘Way back in her vanished youth-time,
Gave up for a duty’s sake.
But whatever had been the story
Of love, or grief, or woe,
It died with the heart, and no one
Will ever care or know.
The hands were hard and toil-stained,
And sallow the cheeks and chin,
But whiter not the snow-wreath
Than the soul that dwelt within.
And methinks a crown resplendent–
Just over the waveless sea–
With gems of self-denial,
Awaits for such as she.
(Madge Morris Wagner)
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Based on Keywords: tear-dimmed, sunburned, snow-wreath, say-the, youth-time, toil-stained