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    EVANISHINGS.   Table of Contents     APPLE DUMPLINGS
  --  BY REQUEST.

Tucker, Mary E.
Poems

- LIFE FOR A LIFE


LIFE FOR A LIFE


'TIS but a phantom of the weary brain,
An image wrought by sleepless nights of
pain--
I know 'tis false, as false as earth can be,
Thy hand, my son, from blood of man is free.

Ah! ha! Thou shrinkest, oh, my son! my son!
If thou art guilty then am I undone!
Still thou art mine, a widow's only child;
Some subtle serpent has thy heart beguiled.

Plead for thee, boy? ay, give my life for thine--
A mother's love is holy, pure, divine.
I will away, to Cromwell will I hie,
And save thee, boy, ay, save or with thee die!
raster
90

With brow unbent, grim Cromwell stood
Within the Council Hall,
Vouchsafing scarce the slightest glance
Upon the form to fall
Of her who pleaded for the boon
Most precious earth can give.
"Life for a life," old Cromwell said.
She pleaded, let him live.

No eloquence so powerful as eloquence of love,
It melts the frozen fountain and the hardest heart
can move.
Let me go back, the woman cried, to happy days
of yore!
That wayward boy you doom to death is a young
I child once more.
See, see his bright and sunny curls now cradled on
my breast!
Again I sing sweet lullaby and soothe my babe to
rest.
raster
91

Sleep, darling, sleep,
Thy mother's near,
Sleep, baby, sleep,
Thou knowest no fear.
Sleep, baby, sleep,
Upon my breast;
Sleep, darling, sleep,
Sweet be thy rest.

Cromwell, your heart is hard, they say, but you
have children too;
War's tide may turn, your too may plead for some
life dear to you.
Then let your better nature act, oh, let my son go
free,
And daily prayers by me and mine shall soar aloft
for thee.
His features soften; does his heart relent towards
my son?
I will another picture draw, then is my pleading
done:
raster
92

See, Cromwell, see, upon the lawn, my curly headed
boy,
He knows not he is fatherless, my blessed, only
joy.
See how he gambols! how can he know aught of
my deep grief?
Tears, scalding tears pour from mine eyes, to give
my heart relief.
Ah, now he rushes to my side, and wipes away a
tear:
Oh, weep not, mother, for my sire, for, mother, I
am here.

Soon, very soon I'll be a man; and then I'll work
for you--
But I am little now, mamma, and what can
children do?
Now all forgetful of my grief, he playful leaves my
side--
You cannot slay my only son, my darling and my
pride!
raster
93

"Life for a life," again he said, yet hurried a tear
to hide;
Then gazing from the casement low, his cheek
flushed in its pride.
The pleader's eye had followed his, to where his
mother stood,
Well might the conqueror be proud of one so pure
and good!

The doomed man's mother grasped his arm; thy
mother, Cromwell, see!
Perchance the time may come, stern man, she may
thus plead for thee.
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay," hath said the
Lord thy King--
Spare, spare my child, and blessings rare upon thy
household bring.

"Life for life,"-- then spare my son, and, Cromwell,
let me die;
A mother's love will brave all earth, and even
death defy.
raster
94
The warrior in his fancy saw his mother's bended
knee,
Tearing her gray hairs in her grief, yet all unheard
her plea.

His stern heart softened, and his eye betrayed the
pitying gleam
Which brightened his harsh, stern old face, like a
celestial beam.
Go, woman, go, thy prayer is heard, and thy dear
son shall live!
This time shall mercy, justice rule, and I for once
forgive.
raster
95

    EVANISHINGS.   Table of Contents     APPLE DUMPLINGS
  --  BY REQUEST.