I would I were a child,
That I might look, and laugh, and say, My Father!
And follow Thee with running feet, or rather
Be led thus through the wild.
How I would hold thy hand!
My glad eyes often to thy glory lifting,
Which casts all beauteous shadows, ever shifting,
Over this sea and land.
If a dark thing came near,
I would but creep within thy mantle’s folding,
Shut my eyes close, thy hand yet faster holding,
And so forget my fear.
O soul, O soul, rejoice!
Thou art God’s child indeed, for all thy sinning;
A trembling child, yet his, and worth the winning
With gentle eyes and voice.
The words like echoes flow.
They are too good; mine I can call them never;
Such water drinking once, I should feel ever
As I had drunk but now.
And yet He said it so;
‘Twas He who taught our child-lips to say, Father!
Like the poor youth He told of, that did gather
His goods to him, and go.
Ah! Thou dost lead me, God;
But it is dark; no stars; the way is dreary;
Almost I sleep, I am so very weary
Upon this rough hill-road.
Almost! Nay, I do sleep.
There is no darkness save in this my dreaming;
Thy Fatherhood above, around, is beaming;
Thy hand my hand doth keep.
This torpor one sun-gleam
Would break. My soul hath wandered into sleeping;
Dream-shades oppress; I call to Thee with weeping,
Wake me from this my dream.
And as a man doth say,
Lo! I do dream, yet trembleth as he dreameth;
While dim and dream-like his true history seemeth,
Lost in the perished day;
(For heavy, heavy night
Long hours denies the day) so this dull sorrow
Upon my heart, but half believes a morrow
Will ever bring thy light.
God, art Thou in the room?
Come near my bed; oh! draw aside the curtain;
A child’s heart would say Father, were it certain
That it did not presume.
But if this dreary bond
I may not break, help Thou thy helpless sleeper;
Resting in Thee, my sleep will sink the deeper,
All evil dreams beyond.
Father! I dare at length.
My childhood, thy gift, all my claim in speaking;
Sinful, yet hoping, I to Thee come, seeking
Thy tenderness, my strength.