A little child, as winter turned to spring,
Tended a lily-plant with patient care,
Thinking, when she should see it blossoming,
To set it on the chancel-step; that there,
When Easter dawned on Lent, the spotless thing
Might on the feast-day be her offering,
Lifting its own white face to One more fair.
But, as the plant grew upward day by day,
Raising itself from earth towards the sky,
So seemed the child from earth to draw away,
The while she feared to see the lily die;
Unthinking that, ere broke the Easter ray,
She might her own white soul before Him lay
For Whom she sought the flower to sanctify.
Time passed. The lily bloomed not; and the night
Before the feast had come. And so the child
Sent to the church the cherished plant, despite
'T was but an unblown bud; and--reconciled
That on the altar-step, midst flowers white,
Her poor green stalk watched out the silent flight
Of hours until the morn--contented smiled.
Fair broke the dawn upon the altar's hem
Of lilies, breathing Easter greeting sweet;
But, with the night that so perfected them,
The child's own spirit fled, the Light to meet
Beyond the heaven's roseate diadem;
And, with the morning, bloomed upon the stem
The fair, white soul her own had longed to greet!