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Poem by Emma Lazarus


Mater Amabilis


Down the goldenest of streams,
   Tide of dreams,
The fair cradled man-child drifts;
Sways with cadenced motion slow,
   To and fro,
As the mother-foot poised lightly, falls and lifts.

He, the firstling,--he, the light
   Of her sight,--
He, the breathing pledge of love,
'Neath the holy passion lies,
   Of her eyes,--
Smiles to feel the warm, life-giving ray above.

She believes that in his vision,
   Skies elysian
O'er an angel-people shine.
Back to gardens of delight,
   Taking flight,
His auroral spirit basks in dreams divine.

But she smiles through anxious tears;
   Unborn years
Pressing forward, she perceives.
Shadowy muffled shapes, they come
   Deaf and dumb,
Bringing what? dry chaff and tares, or full-eared sheaves?

What for him shall she invoke?
   Shall the oak
Bind the man's triumphant brow?
Shall his daring foot alight
   On the height?
Shall he dwell amidst the humble and the low?

Through what tears and sweat and pain,
   Must he gain
Fruitage from the tree of life?
Shall it yield him bitter flavor?
   Shall its savor
Be as manna midst the turmoil and the strife?

In his cradle slept and smiled
   Thus the child
Who as Prince of Peace was hailed.
Thus anigh the mother breast,
   Lulled to rest,
Child-Napoleon down the lilied river sailed.

Crowned or crucified--the same
   Glows the flame
Of her deathless love divine.
Still the blessed mother stands,
   In all lands,
As she watched beside thy cradle and by mine.

Whatso gifts the years bestow,
   Still men know,
While she breathes, lives one who sees
(Stand they pure or sin-defiled)
   But the child
Whom she crooned to sleep and rocked upon her knee.



Emma Lazarus


Emma Lazarus's other poems:
  1. Saint Romualdo
  2. Arabesque
  3. Magnetism
  4. Youth and Death
  5. Spring Longing


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