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I look within thine eyes,
My little child,
And see them dark and deep and earnest-clear;
They answer widely back in slow surprise,
At tears which tell my fear--
My mother-fear, my sweetest one, for thee,
That unawake, within that dusky deep,
May slumbrous fires all unsuspected be,
And dark, strange phantoms sleep.


And all my mother-love,
My little child,
Yearns over thee, and longs to wrap thee 'round,
Enfolded safe and warm, my tender dove,
Within love's shelt'ring bound.
For thine will be a strong maturity,
The wakening up, the coming into life
Of thy young powers, whatever they may be,
Will bring thee feverish strife.


Then oh, for thy sweet soul,
My little child!
Could all thy crosses but be mine to bear,
Could all thy burdens on my shoulders roll,
Or could I in them share,
Thrice welcome were such pain and weary load;
But ah, thy tender feet must tread alone
The certain winepress of thy womanhood,
And I must hear thee moan.


And I shall see thy face,
My little child,
Grow terror-white may be at the coming in
Of life's flood tide, o'ersweeping all the space
Where shells and play have been--
For that, sweet heart, will be the full flood tide,
When love comes surging o'er youth's sunny sands,
And drowns out all the letters girlhood tried
To trace with dreamy hands.


Oh! then my heart implores,
My little child,
That thou be not on wild, mad breakers thrown,
But borne on blissful waves to blessed shores,
Where love dwells with its own.
If not, though bitterly my hands will wring,
In keenest anguish which I may not tell,
E'en mother-love is impotent to bring
For youth's worst woes a spell.


So I can only cling,
My little child,
All closely while I may to thy dear form;
And pray the Father for his sheltering
In every coming storm.
Lord, I thee trust. And looking in these eyes,
I pray Thee that Thou hold within thy hand
My darling's future, all in tender wise,
And Thou--dost understand!