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CAVE you not heard the poets tell
How came the dainty Babie Bell

Into this world of ours ?
The gates of heaven were left ajar:
With folded hands and dreamy eyes,
Wandering out of Paradise,
She saw this planet like a star

Hung in the glistening depths of even,--
Its bridges, running to and fro,
O'er which the white-winged angels go,

Bearing the holy Dead to heaven. She touched a bridge of flowers,--those feet, So light they did not bend the bells Of the celestial asphodels !

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THE BALLAD OF BABIE BELL.

They fell like dew upon the flowers,
Then all the air grew strangely sweet!
And thus came dainty Babie Bell

Into this world of ours.

She came, and brought delicious May.

The swallows built beneath the eaves,

Like sunlight in and out the leaves,
The robins went the livelong day;
The lily swung its noiseless bell,

And o'er the porch the trembling vine

Seemed bursting with its veins of wine :
How swiftly, softly, twilight fell !
Oh, earth was full of singing-birds,
And opening spring-tide flowers,

When the dainty Babie Bell
Came to this world of ours !

O Babie, dainty Babie Bell,
How fair she grew from day to day!

What woman-nature filled her eyes,
What poetry within them lay :

THE BALLAD OF BABIE BELL.

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Those deep and tender twilight eyes,
So full of meaning, pure and bright,
As if she yet stood in the light

Of those oped gates of Paradise.
And so we loved her more and more :
Ah! never in our hearts before

Was love so lovely born :
We felt we had a link between
This real world and that unseen,-

The land beyond the morn.
And for the love of those dear eyes,

For love of her whom God led forth,

(The mother's being ceased on earth When Babie came from Paradise), For love of Him who smote our lives,

And woke the chords of joy and pain, We said, Dear Christ !-our hearts bent down

Like violets after rain.

And now the orchards, which were white

And red with blossoms when she came, Were rich in Autumn's mellow prime:

The clustered apples burnt like flame,

54

THE BALLAD OF BABIE BELL.

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The soft-cheeked peaches blushed and fell,
The ivory chestnut burst its shell,
The grapes hung purpling in the grange :
And time wrought just as rich a change

In little Babie Bell.
Her lissom form more perfect grew,

And in her features we could trace,

In soften'd curves, her mother's face.
Her angel nature ripened too.
We thought her lovely when she came,

But she was holy, saintly now.

Around her pale angelic brow
We saw a slender ring of flame !
God's hand had taken away the seal

That held the portals of her speech ;
And oft she said a few strange words

Whose meaning lay beyond our reach.
She never was a child to us,

We never held her being's key :
We could not teach her holy things:

She was Christ's self in purity.

It came upon us by degrees :
We saw its shadow ere it fell,

THE BALLAD OF BABIE BELL.

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The knowledge that our God had sent
His messenger for Babie Bell.
We shuddered with unlanguaged pain,
And all our hopes were changed to fears,
And all our thoughts ran into tears
Like sunshine into rain.
We cried aloud in our belief,
“Oh, smite us gently, gently, God!
Teach us to bend and kiss the rod,
And perfect growth through grief.”
Ah, how we loved her, God can tell ;
Her heart was folded deep in ours.
Our hearts are broken, Babie Bell !
At last he came, the messenger,
The messenger from unseen lands :
And what did dainty Babie Bell?
She only crossed her little hands,
She only looked more meek and fair !
We parted back her silken hair:
We wove the roses round her brow,
White buds, the summer's drifted snow,-
Wrapt her from head to foot in flowers !
And thus went dainty Babie Bell
Out of this world of ours !

T. B. ALDRICH.

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