The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Chinese Son

The Chinese SonEdit

(The following lines were suggested by reading a narrative of a
Chinese youth, whose mother felt great alarm during the prevalence
of a thunderstorm, and whose filial affection always prompted him
to be present with his mother on such occasions, and even after her
death to visit and remain at her grave, during their continuance.)

I come to thee, my mother! the black sky
Is swollen with its thunder, and the air
Seems palpable with darkness, save when high,
The lurid lightning streams a ruddy glare
Across the heavens, rousing from their lair
The deep-voiced thunders! how the mounting storm
Strides o'er the firmament! yet I can dare
Its fiercest terrors, mother, that my arm
May wind its shield of love around thy sleeping form.

What uproar! raging winds, and smiting hail,
The lightning's blaze, and deaf'ning thunder's crash,
Let loose at once for havoc! I should quail
Before the terrors of the forked flash,
Did not the thought of thee triumphant dash
All selfish fears aside, and bid me fly
To kneel beside thy grave; the rain-drops plash
Heavily round thee from the rifted sky;
Yet I am here, fear not—beside thy couch I lie.

Thou canst not hear me—the storm brings not now,
One terror to thy bosom—yet 't is sweet
To call to mind the smile, wherewith thy brow
Was wont in by-gone days my step to greet,
When o'er the earth the summer tempest beat,
And the loosed thunder shook the heavens—but when
Was there a look of mine that did not meet
A smile of love from thee? the world of men
A friend, like thou hast been, will never yield again.

Oh! mother, mother, how could love like thine
Pass from the earth away! on other eyes,
The glances of maternal love will shine,
And still on other hearts the blessing lies,
That made mine blissful; yet far less they prize
That boon of happiness—and in their glee,
Around their spirits gather many ties
Of joy and tenderness—but all to me
That made the earth seem bright, is sepulchred with thee.

They sometimes strive to lead me to the halls,
Where wine and mirth the fleeting moments wing,
But on my clouded spirit sadness falls,
More darkly then, than when the cave-glooms fling
Their shadows round me, and the night-winds sing
Through the torn rocks their melancholy dirge,
Or when as now the echoing thunder rings
O'er the wide heavens, and the mad gales urge
Unto an answering cry, the overmastering surge.

The storms of nature pass, and soon no trace
Is left to mark their ravage—but long years
Pass lingeringly onward, nor efface
The deep-cut channel of our burning tears,
Or aching scars, that wasting sorrow sears
Upon the breast: lo! even now, a gleam
Of moonlight through the broken clouds appears,
To bless the earth again. I fain would dream,
It was a smile of thine, to bless me with its beam.