Life By Abram Joseph Ryan

    A baby played with the surplice sleeve
     Of a gentle priest; while in accents low,
    The sponsors murmured the grand “I believe,”
     And the priest bade the mystic waters to flow
    In the name of the Father, and the Son,
    And Holy Spirit — Three in One.

    Spotless as a lily’s leaf,
     Whiter than the Christmas snow;
    Not a sign of sin or grief,
     And the babe laughed, sweet and low.

    A smile flitted over the baby’s face:
     Or was it the gleam of its angel’s wing
    Just passing then, and leaving a trace
     Of its presence as it soared to sing?
    A hymn when words and waters win
    To grace and life a child of sin.

    Not an outward sign or token,
     That a child was saved from woe;
    But the bonds of sin were broken,
     And the babe laughed, sweet and low.

    A cloud rose up to the mother’s eyes,
     And out of the cloud grief’s rain fell fast;
    Came the baby’s smiles, and the mother’s sighs,
     Out of the future, or the past?
    Ah! gleam and gloom must ever meet,
    And gall must mingle with the sweet.

    Yea, upon the baby’s laughter
     Trickled tears:    ’tis ever so —
    Mothers dread the dark hereafter;
     But the babe laughed sweet and low.

    And the years like waves broke on the shore
     Of the mother’s heart, and her baby’s life;
    But her lone heart drifted away before
     Her little boy knew an hour of strife;
    Drifted away on a Summer’s eve,
    Ere the orphaned child knew how to grieve

    Her humble grave was gently made
     Where roses bloomed in Summer’s glow;
    The wild birds sang where her heart was laid,
     And her boy laughed sweet and low.

    He drifted away from his mother’s grave,
     Like a fragile flower on a great stream’s tide,
    Till he heard the moan of the mighty wave,
     That welcomed the stream to the ocean wide.
    Out from the shore and over the deep,
    He sailed away and learned to weep.

    Furrowed grew the face once fair,
     Under storms of human woe;
    Silvered grew the dark brown hair,
     And he wailed so sad and low.

    The years swept on as erst they swept,
     Bright wavelets once, dark billows now;
    Wherever he sailed he ever wept,
     A cloud hung over the darkened brow —
    Over the deep and into the dark,
    But no one knew where sank his bark.

    Wild roses watched his mother’s tomb,
     The world still laughed, ’tis ever so —
    God only knows the baby’s doom,
     That laughed so sweet and low.