Littell's Living Age/Volume 130/Issue 1682/The Seven-Nights' Watch



Nay, don't turn the key, not yet, not yet, five nights haven't past and gone
Since we laid the green sods straight and meet, to wait for the cold gray stone;
See, his pipe still lies on the mantel where the old armchair is set,
The knife is left in the half-carved stick — don't turn the door-key yet!

How it rains! it must be dree an' all where the wet wind sweeps the brow,
And it's dry and warm by the hearthstone; don't steek the lintel now!
Fling a fir-log on the ingle; he was used to love the light,
That shone "haste thee" through the darkness, when he was abroad at night.

Thieves? nay, they scarce come up our way, and there's none so much to steal,
Just the bread loaf in the cupboard, and the hank on the spinning-wheel;
And I'd rather lose the all I have, aye, the burial-fee on the shelf,
Than think of him barred out from home, out in the cold by himself.

Whisht! was not yon a footstep in the path out there by the byre?
Whisht! I know how boards can creak. I say, pile sticks on the fire.
The wind sighs over the upland, just like a parting soul;
Get to bed with you all — I'll stay, and keep my watch by the gathering coal.

For all he grew so wild and strange, my one son loved his mother.
Mayhap he'd come to me when scarce he'd show himself to another.
When the drink was out he was always kind, and e'en when he had a drop
He was mild to me. Don't turn the key! For seven nights here I stop.

I bore him, kept him, and loved him; whatever else might come,
He knew, while his mother held the door, was always his welcome home.
You may stare and laugh, an' it please you; but, oh, a glint of him
Were just a sparkle of heaven to the eyes that are waxing dim!

And I know, should he meet his father, up there in the rest and joy,
He'll say, "A couple of nights are left, thou'st need to cheer her, my boy."
So, leave the key, and fetch the logs, till the mourner's week is done;
I tell thee I'll watch, lest I miss in sleep a last smile from my son.

All The Year Round.