I

You are coming, over the dark
(Over the dark — over the dark),
You are coming, shadow and spark:
Life! — for my hand to hold.
Ah, and what shall I do with you?
Curl you away in a pink rose-petal?
Or in a chest of pale filigree-metal
Lock you like pearls from the cold?
Or shall I hang you out on the bough
Of the great fir tree where the winds walk by,
Letting them rock you and still your cry
When you are afraid at night?
But I am afraid when I think of you. —
How shall I know you? Whom shall I greet,
Strange as a star from your head to your feet,
Strange little soul, blank-white?
I am coming, over the dark
(Over the dark — over the dark),
Trembling and wonder, shadow and spark :
Life! —for your hand to hold.
This will you do, and naught else with me :
Clasp me and kiss me and cling to me!
Love me, and laugh as you sing to me!
Hugging me safe from the cold!

II

You shall not wear velvet
Nor silken broidery;
But brown things, and straight things
That leave your body free.
You shall not have playthings
That men have wrought for gold;
But shells and stones and seaweeds,
And nuts by squirrels sold.
Your friends shall be the Tall Wind,
The River, and the Tree;
The Sun that laughs and marches,
The Swallows, and the Sea.
Your prayers shall be the murmur
Of grasses in the rain;
The song of wild wood-thrushes,
That make God glad again.
And you shall run and wander,
And you shall dream and sing
Of brave things and bright things,
Beyond the swallow’s wing.
And you shall envy no man,
Nor hurt your heart with sighs.
For I will keep you simple,
That God may make you wise!

III

I hold you close; and I could cry
Because you seem so new and dear;
And such a helpless warder I
To keep your candle burning clear:
The curious candle of your breath,
Body’s and spirit’s throbbing light. —
I hold you close, while Life and Death
Already blow across you. White
And soft, and warm against my cheek —
Oh, I could cry! But somehow, you
With hands and feet and face bespeak
Laughter no tears can quiver through!
A changeling mother I must be,
To laugh, and not to cry, at you, —
Dust of the starry worlds! — to me
The quaintest joke I ever knew!