Read the poem: “The Changeling “

by James Russell Lowell

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American LiteratureAmerican PoetryJames Russell Lowell
< < < Prison of Cervantes
Elegy on the Death of Dr. Channing > > >

The Changeling

I had a little daughter,
  And she was given to me
To lead me gently backward
  To the Heavenly Father’s knee,
That I, by the force of nature.
  Might in some dim wise divine
The depth of his infinite patience
  To this wayward soul of mine.

I know not how others saw her,
  But to me she was wholly fair,
And the light of the heaven she came from
  Still lingered and gleamed in her hair;
For it was as wavy and golden,
  And as many changes took,
As the shadows of sun-gilt ripples
  On the yellow bed of a brook.

To what can I liken her smiling
  Upon me, her kneeling lover,
How it leaped from her lips to her eyelids,
  And dimpled her wholly over,
Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
  And I almost seemed to see
The very heart of her mother
  Sending sun through her veins to me!

She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,
  And it hardly seemed a day,
When a troop of wandering angels
  Stole my little daughter away;
Or perhaps those heavenly Zingari
  But loosed the hampering strings,
And when they had opened her cage-door.
  My little bird used her wings.

But they left in her stead a changeling
  A little angel child,
That seems like her bud in full blossom,
  And smiles as she never smiled:
When I wake in the morning, I see it
  Where she always used to lie,
And I feel as weak as a violet
  Alone ‘neath the awful sky.

As weak, yet as trustful also;
  For the whole year long I see
All the wonders of faithful Nature
  Still worked for the love of me;
Winds wander, and dews drip earthward,
  Rain falls, suns rise and set,
Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
  A poor little violet.

This child is not mine as the first was,
  I cannot sing it to rest,
I cannot lift it up fatherly
  And bliss it upon my breast:
Yet it lies in my little one’s cradle
  And sits in my little one’s chair,
And the light of the heaven she’s gone to
  Transfigures its golden hair.

< < < Prison of Cervantes
Elegy on the Death of Dr. Channing > > >

American LiteratureAmerican Poetry James Russell Lowell

Copyright holders –  Public Domain

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