Lilith – The Legend Of The First Woman
by Ada Langworthy Collier
And Lilith oft to Paradise returned,
For fierce within her, bitter hatred burned,
And better, dearer, seemed revenge than aught
She else desired. The coppice oft she sought,
Much hoping direful evil might be wrought
Upon the love that bloomed in Eden.
Oft strayed fair Eve; the little maid, beside,
Plucking the lotus; or by sedgy moats,
From ribbed papyrus broad, frail fairy boats
Deft fashioning. Or Adam, watching, smiled,
With flowery wreaths engarlanding the child.
And laughed the pair, intent on pleasant toil,
When blithe the child upheaped her fruity spoil–
Great globes of red and gold. Or roguish face
O’er feathery broods, or in the further space
To count the small blue eggs, she sportive bent;
And far her restless feet swift glancing went.
It chanced one day she watched the careless flight
Of vagrant butterflies, that circled light
Uncertain, high, above a copse rose-wreathed;
Then soft down-dropping, gaudy wings they sheathed
Beside a darkling pool. The copse anear
With yellow buds was strewn. And softly here
She crept, deeming her little half-shut hand
Might snare the fairest of that gleaming band.
Yet ere she touched it, wide its wings outspread
And still she, swift pursuing, sped
Among the groves, till wearied, slept the maid
Deep in the mid-day shadows, lowly laid.
Without, stooped Lilith. And with fingers swift,
Among the leaves she oped a small green rift,
That she might see the child. The hedge was wet
With starry blooms. Whereto her hand she set
When she awaked, seeing each dainty frond
Of fragrant ferns, dusk mirrored in the pond.
The child came near the copse, much wondering:
From glossy stems the smooth leaves sundering.
And stooping o’er the rift, she saw there, low
Against the hedge, a face like drifted snow,
And soft eyes, blue as violets show
Above the brooks; and hair that downward rolled
Upon the ground in glittering strands of gold.
Mute stood the maid, naught fearing, but amazed.
Then nearer drew, and lingering, she gazed
In those blue orbs. And smiling as she knelt,
The stranger quickly loosed her shining belt
Of gems. Flawless each stone whose pallid gleam
Lit silent nooks, or slept by far-off stream
Unheeded–pale pearls with shimmering light,
From distant oceans plucked, blue sapphires bright,
And diamonds rosy-cold, and burning red
The rubies fine, and yellow topaz shed
Its sultry glow, jasper, dull onyx white,
Sardonyx, rare chalcèdon, streaked with light.
Against her white breast that bright zone she laid,
Then stretched it, flashing forth, toward the maid,
And clasped it round her throat.
A luring strain
She sung, sweet as the pause of summer rain.
So soft, so pure her voice, the child it drew
Still nearer that green rift; and low there-through
She laughing stroked the down-bent golden head
With her soft baby hands. And parting, spread
The silken hair about her little face,
And kissed the temptress through the green-leaved space.
Whereat fell Lilith snatched the babe and fled,
Crying, as swift from Eden’s bounds she sped,
And like a fallen star shone on her breast
The child, “At last! at last! thy peaceful rest
Ere long will cease. O helpless mourn, frail Eve,
Uncomforted. O hapless mother, grieve,
Since Lilith far from thee thy babe doth bear!
She leaves thy loving arms, thy tender care.
Nor canst thou follow anywhere my flight,
When far we go athwart the falling night.
Ah, little babe, close-meshed in yellow hair
Thou liest pale! Fear not, thou art so fair,
Much comfort lives in thee.”
So ended she,
And onward, hostile lands among, passed fleet
Blue solitudes afar, till paused her feet,
Where highest ‘mong hoar climbing peaks, uprose
A mountain crest.
It was the third day’s close.
In those untrodden ways there was no sound,
No sight of living thing, the barren heights around.
No hum of insect life, no whirring wing of bird.
Bare rocks alone, all fissured, blotched and blurred
As with red stain of battle-fields unseen.
Far, far below, still vales were shining green.
And leaping downward swift, a mountain stream
Crept soft to sleep, where meadow grasses dream.
Wan, wayworn, there, the babe upon her knee,
Lilith sat down. “O Eve,” she said, “on me
The child smiles sweet! Fondle her silken hair
If now thou canst, or clasp her small hands fair.
Thou hast my Paradise. Lo, thine I bear
Afar from thee. See, then! Its transient woe
Thy babe e’en now forgets; and sweet and low
It babbles on my knee. In sooth, not long
Endure her griefs, and through my crooning song
She kisses me, recalling not the place
Whence she has come. Nay, nor her mother’s face.”
Long time stayed Lilith in that land. More calm
Each day she grew, for soft, like healing balm,
The child’s pure love fell on her sin-sick soul.
Now oft among the crags, fleet-footed, stole
The maid, or lightly crossed the fertile plain.
And blithesome sang among the growing grain
That brake in billowy waves about her feet.
But when the wheat full ripened was, and sweet,
She plucked and ate. Thereat a shadowy pain,
A sense of sorrow, stirred that childish brain,
She wist not why. For it did surely seem
Before her waking thought, with pallid gleam
Of other days, dim pictures passed; of wood
And stream, beyond these mountain rims. And stood,
It seemed, midway a garden wide, a tree that bright
Like silver gleamed, and broad boughs light
Uplifted. Like ripened wheat the fruit thereon,
When low the westering sun upon it shone.
Then slow the maid did turn, and silent stand
At Lilith’s side. And o’er that mountain land,
Down-looking, mused. Or lifted pensive eyes,
And gaze that questioned if in any wise
She might perceive the land she longing sought;
But of its stream, or garden, saw she naught.
Thereat Lilith with white lips drew more near,
And clasped in her lithe arms the child so dear.
And once again fled swift, a shadowy shape,
Across green fields. And heard, through silence, break
A voice she could not hush, that loudly wailed,
“My babe! Give me my babe!”
And Lilith paled,
And listening, heard, borne ever on the wind,
The tread of feet fast following behind.
Then westward turned, where once among new ways
With Eblis she had trod in other days,
When far they wandered. Thitherward she bent
Her timid steps, the babe upon her breast,
Until with travel worn her noontide rest
She took. And now a land of alien blooms
About them lay, outwafting strange perfumes.
And quaint defiles, that sloped behind a bay;
And level fields; and curly vines that lay
Thick clustered o’er with unripe fruit; and bent
Above them fragrant limes and spicy scent
Of citron and of myrtle all the place
Made sweet, and ‘mid the trees, an open space
Not far away a broad lagoon
Burned like a topaz ‘neath a crescent moon,
For day was parting. Even-tide apace
Drew on, and chill the night dews filled the place.
Upon the waters dusky shadows clung,
And ashen-gray the broad leaves drooping hung;
Low ‘mong the marish buds lay one that made
Against the sudden dusk a duskier shade–
Despairing arms upflinging to the sky,
Smiting the silence with unheeded cry–
“O mother, childless! Wife–of all bereft!
Alas, my babe, not even thou art left
To comfort me, in these last hopeless days,
Shut out from Paradise. Through unknown ways
I sought thee sorrowing. Oh, once again,
My Adam, come! Is not this gnawing pain
Of punishment enow, that thou unkind
Art grown? Ah, never more shall I thee find?
Alas, I ever was but weak. Alone
I cannot live. Come but again, mine own.
No longer leave me mourning, desolate.
In tears I call thee. Oh, in tears I wait
Thy sweet, forgiving kiss!”
Ended she so
Her plaint. And ‘mong the glistening leaves hid low,
Lilith yet fiercer clasped the child
When that lorn mother, tear-stained, weeping, wild,
Poured forth her woe.
As one that wakes to life
From peaceful dreams, leaps quick amid the strife
Of morning hours, so now the maid to pass
From Lilith’s arms strove hard. And loosed her clasp,
And turned her shadowed face with plaintive moan
And fond beseeching eyes, where lay her mother lone.
But Lilith hardening, seized the child again,
And from her ears shut out the mother’s pain
With wilful hands.
So passed she quick away.
Across the dusky path, low fallen, lay
Pale Eve, till clear she saw the dawn’s pure ray,
And as she looked, the voice of one she heard
Anigh. Her heart to sudden joy was stirred.
“Rise up, mine own,” he said, “no more apart
We walk.” Then she arose, and cried, “Dear heart,
Close hold me. So! Methinks I dreamed we were
Parted long time.”
So went, the exiled pair
From home thrust out, together–everywhere.
And oft they journeyed on with sufferings spent
To distant lands. And oft with labor bent
Recalled the olden home, with brimming eyes,
Hemmed in by mountains blue–lost Paradise.
Meanwhile, to her own realm Lilith long since
Was come, glad greeting Eblis. “O my prince,
I have most bravely done. Our foes full sore
Are smitten now. My guerdon o’er and o’er
Thou wilt bestow, I ween, in kisses warm
As my own southland’s breath. For I great harm
Have wrought that hated pair. With feeble moan
Lies Eve in a far land, thrust out. Alone,
Deserted. And whence angered Adam flies
I know not. Nay, nor what new world his eyes
Behold. Nor even if he live.
Sleeps on my breast the babe–Eve’s babe. And she
Shall know no more its tender, sweet caress,
Soft medicining woe. The wilderness
Uncheered by love, is hers.”
And by the sea,
Peaceful abode, long time content, the three,
Save that the child unmurmuring drooped.
Then oft above her Lilith, singing, stooped,
Striving to wake the baby smiles again
About her wee, warm mouth. Vain wiles! And vain
Her loving skill. All still she lay, and pale.
As one at sea pines for a lonely vale
Besprent with cuckoo flowers; the faint wild breath
Of cradled buds, among the cloven elms, and saith,
‘I shall not see that place beyond the seas,
Nor any more pluck red anemones
In windless nooks.’
So seemed the child, and frail
As one that weeps above dead joys. Then pale
Grew Lilith as those wasting lips she pressed
And kissed the filmy eyes, and kissing, blessed
But Eblis touched the hand so worn,
The faded, wasted face. “Happy, thou mother lorn,
Unseeing her,” he said. “This fragile thing
To-day lies on thy breast. To-morrow’s wing
Hath brushed it from thy sight.” Low Lilith sighed:
“My Eblis, is this death?” And louder cried,
“But thou art wise, and sure some hidden way
From this sore hap canst find. O Eblis, say,
Hast thou no spell whereby the child may live?
O love, my realm thy recompense I give,
If she be healed.”
“Nay; not Archangel’s craft
Stays fleeting life, or turns Death’s nimble shaft,”
He said. “Yet if,” she mused, “I laid again
The child in young Eve’s arms, like summer rain,
The mother’s love may yet restore again
This shriveled life. And yet, must I resign
The babe? Alas, my little one! Nay, mine
No more!” Weeping she ceased.
But after, bore
The child far northward; the exiled pair o’er
Many lands long seeking. Till from a crest
Of barren hills Lilith looked down. At rest,
The twain she saw, for it was eventide.
And low they spoke of hidden snares beside
Their unknown path, since unaware fared they
Into this hostile spot. The dim wolds lay
All bare beneath chill stars. And far away
Were belts of pine, and dingy ocean shore,
Like wrinkled lip. Cold was the land, and hoar
With wintry rime. Near by, its leafless boughs
A thorn bush bent, with withered berries red.
At sight thereof Adam, rejoicing, said,
“My Eve, bide here. From yonder friendly tree
The ripe fruit I will pluck and bring to thee.”
“Oh, leave me not! This solitude I fear;
The land about is chill,” she said, “and drear
It seems to me.” But Adam answered, “Nay,
Sore famished art thou, and not far away
It is–nor long I stay.”
So parted he.
Not long alone was Eve. Upstarted she
Dismayed. A woman, most exceeding fair,
Beside her stood, with coils of yellow hair,
And blue eyes, calm as sleep among the hills’
Dim lakes. Eve, frighted, shrank. As mountain rills,
Sweet fell the stranger’s words. “My sister, one
Is here that glad salutes thee. And since done
Is now my quest, and here my journey ends,
I bring a goodly gift. For elsewhere wends
My pathway, Eve.
“Beside a coppice green,
Brighter than gold, purer than silver sheen,
In a fair garden, once a jewel shone.
With it, compared in all the world, no stone.
And low the Master set it shining clear
Against the hedge, saying, ‘When she draws near
She will perceive on whom I do bestow
This moteless gem, that fellow doth not know.’
“Now I without the copse that day was hid.
Soft shone the jewel, as the moon amid
The blue. And in the garden I saw thee,
Where in the midst stood a fair wheaten tree
As emerald green. Its ears, as rubies red,
Fragrant as breath of musk, its odors spread.
And white its shining grains as rifted snow.
I looked again. And in thy fair hand, lo,
Full ripe bright gleamed the yellow wheaten grain.
Thou saidst, ‘Though I did eat, I live. No pain
Hath marred this pleasant feast.’
“Then I the more
Desired thy gem. ‘All things most goodly pour
On Eve their gifts. But I am famished lone,’
I said. And still against the hedge the stone
Rayed like a frozen tear the pure Night shed–
The which with trembling hand I seized, and fled
“But now upon my soul weighs sore
A dream. A voice called loud, ‘Straightway restore
To Eve that which is hers; lest I, that bright
Set it against the hedge, will quench its light.
Yea, I will crumble it and quickly smite
It into dust e’en from thy hand.’ Mine eyes
I careless closed. But yesternight ‘Arise!’
The stern voice cried. ‘Stay not at all. For lo,
I wait not. Lest I scourge thee sorely, go!’
Ah, Eve, though long upon my heart I wore
This jewel rare, behold, I now restore
Then Eve cried loud, “Ere my heart break,
Give me my babe! Where is she, for whose sake
I sorrowed all these years–the little maid?”
She said, through tender sobs.
And Lilith laid
Apart upon her breast her garment, dyed
In blended hues. And stooping at Eve’s side,
Gave back the child.
As one that ending quest
Most perilous, safe harbor sees–at rest
Among green hills–and enters glad therein,
So Lilith was.
So passed she once again
Into her land.
But Eve, like rain
Long pent, upon the child poured swiftly down
Sweet kisses. And again, twixt laugh and frown
Divided, smoothed the baby face, and through
Her fingers soft the silken hair she drew,
And kissed again.
And with a vague surprise
Recalled the stranger’s smile, the mournful eyes,
Much marveling whence she fared. And said, “As pale
She seemed as bramble-blooms in Eden’s vale.”
When homeward Adam came, the child she set
Upon his knee, saying, “Erewhile I met
An angel. So to me she seemed, as there
She stood. So tall, so yellow-haired, so fair;
And lo, she brought again the babe.”
She ended low. “Doubtless an angel, love, sith
So you deem her,” he replied. And mused on all
And watching, saw a shadow fall
Upon the child. And later, did recall
Those words, sad pondering “so fair, so tall.”
But nothing uttered.
In that land long time
They lingered. And the child slow faded, till
One day Eve frighted cried, “See, Adam, still
She lies! Ah, little one, unseal those eyes!
Rouse but awhile, ere waning daylight flies!”
For she discerned not yet its doom, nor knew
The hour was near.
But Adam, parting, drew
Beneath the thorn, lest he might see the child.
And all the lone hours through Eve, babbling, smiled
Adown. And blew her warm breath o’er the cheeks
So wan. “The night grows cold,” she said. “Sleep creeps
Dull on my babe. The night grows cold and chill,”
Nor dreamed aneath those lids closed still,
The death film hung.
A wind uprose, and swept
Among the dry leaves heaped, where lowly slept
The child. Cold grew the night and colder, till
Against the east the dawn glowed daffodil,
Above dun wolds white with new-fallen snow.
So rose the day and widened into morning glow
With rosy tints o’erstreaked, and faintly blurred
With flecks of cloud.
Still lay the child, nor stirred.
Dumb Eve looked down, nor knew Death’s pallid masque,
And strove to wake the maid. In vain. Her task
Was done. And as she gazed, a gentle grasp
Soft loosed the dead from that cold mother’s clasp,
And Lilith laid the babe in its chill bed–
Straightened the limbs, and kissed the little head.
And o’er the sleeper, kneeling, she did lean.
Forth from her breast she drew, close folded, green,
A sheath of leaves, bright shining, lustrous–wet
With tears–that in those waxen hands she set.
Then those shut leaves oped slow. And low and frail
Bloomed ‘mid the tintless snows a snow-drop pale.
Soft Lilith said, “For this pale sleeper’s sake,
O Eve, one kiss bestow. E’en thou canst take
Pity on me. For thee new, happy days await,
But I–I am forever desolate.
For thee fresh love will bloom above this mould;
For thee, in coming years, pure lips unfold;
But I–no more, no more, shall feel the warm
Breath ‘gainst my breast. Nay, nor the baby arm
Soft clasping me. Nor see the feet that pass
Like falling music, through the waving grass.
Therefore, one pardoning kiss give e’er I go
To my own land, beyond this realm of snow.”
And Eve, uprising, took the hand she gave,
And weeping, kissed; and parted by that grave.
Stood Adam, after-time, by that small mound.
Low at their feet a sheaf of leaves Eve found,
Wherein white flowers shone. “Oh, like,” she said,
“To this was one abloom within the bed
Where lies the child. And fair, O, passing fair,
She was, and tall, with yellow gleaming hair,
And cheeks soft flushed as fresh pomegranate bells;
And dewy eyes, like violets in the dells,
Who came. So, silent passed that stranger fair
Who loved our babe. And e’er I well was ware,
Otherwhiles, “Of alien race
She was,” Eve said. “A princess, with a face
Surpassing fair, who trod the pathway bright
Among the mists, beyond the rim of night
To her own land.”
And oft in after-time,
When Cain had lain in her young arms, and chime
Of voices round her came, and clasp of hands,
And thick with baby faces bloomed the lands,
Eve silent sat, remembering that one child
Among the snowdrops, in a Northern wild.
And Lilith dwelt again in her own land;
With Eblis still strayed far. And hand in hand
They talked; the while her phantom brood in glee
Laughed overhead. Then looking on the sea,
Low voiced, she sang. So sweet the idle song,
She said, “From Paradise, forgotten long,
It comes. An elfin echo that doth rise
Upward from summer seas to bending skies.
In coming days, from any earthly shore
It shall not fail. And sweet forever more
Shall make my memory. That witching strain
Pale Lilith’s love shall lightly breathe again.
And Lilith’s bitter loss and olden pain
O’er every cradle wake that sweet refrain.
My memory still shall bloom. It cannot die
While rings Earth’s cradle-song–sweet lullaby.”
Slow passed dim cycles by, and in the earth
Strange peoples swarmed; new nations sprang to birth.
Then first ‘mong tented tribes men shuddering spake
Dread tales of one that moved, an unseen shape,
‘Mong chilling mists and snow. A spirit swift,
That dwelt in lands beyond day’s purple rift.
Phantom of presage ill to babes unborn,
Whose fast-sealed eyes ope not to earthly morn.
“We heard,” they cried, “the Elf-babes shrilly scream,
And loud the Siren’s song, when lightnings gleam.”
Then they that by low beds all night did wake,
Prayed for the day, and feared to see it break.
When o’er the icy fjords cold rise white peaks,
And fierce wild storms blot out the frozen creeks,
The Finnish mother to her breast more near
Draws her dear babe–clasps it in her wild fear
Still closer to her heart. And o’er and o’er
Through her weird song fall echoes from that lore
That lived when Time was young, e’er yet the rime
Of years lay on his brow. In that far prime
Nature and man, couched ‘neath God’s earliest sky,
Heard clear-voiced spheres chant Earth’s first lullaby.
Now, in the blast loud sings the Finn, and long,
Nor knows that faint through her wild cradle-song
Yet sweetly thrills the vanished Elf-babes’ cry,
Nor dreams, as low she croons her lullaby,
Still breathes through that sweet, lingering refrain
Lilith the childless–and to life again,
To love, she wakes.
The soft strain clearer rings
As through the gathering storm that mother sings:
Pile the strong fagot,
Pale Lilith comes!
Wild through the murky air goblin voices shout.
Hark! Hearest thou not their lusty rout?
Listen, my babe!
See how the dusk pines
Tremble and crouch;
Over wide wastes borne, white are the snow-wreaths blown,
And loud the drear icy fjords shudder and moan;
Listen, my babe!
Ah! Hear the wild din,
Fierce o’er the linn,
The sea-gull, affrighted, soars seaward away,
And dark on the shores falls the wind-driven spray;
Listen, my babe!
The shuddering ice
Shivers. It cracks!
Like a wild beast in pain, it cries to the wrack
Of the storm-cloud overhead. The sea answers back–
Dread Lilith comes!
Listen, my babe!
Near draws the wraith fair,
Dull gleams her hair.
Ah, strong one, so cruel–fierce breath of the North–
The torches of heaven are lighting thee forth!
Fell Lilith comes!
Listen, my babe!
Cold spirit of Snow,
Ah, I fear thee!
The sports of my hunter, the white fox, the bear,
The spoils of our rivers are thine. Ah, then spare,
Dread Lilith, spare
The babe at my breast!
Mercy, weird Lilith!
My babe lies so chill. See, the reindeer I give!
Ah, lift thy dark wings, that my darling may live!
Pale Lilith comes!
Listen, my babe!
Once, in the Northland,
Pale crocus grew
By half-wakened stream. It lay shriveled and low
Ere the spring-time had come, in soft shroud of snow.
Sad Lilith comes!
Listen, my babe!
Foul Vampire, drain not
From my loved one
The life-current red. O Demon, art breaking
My heart while I plead? Ah, babe! Art thou waking?
Lilith, I live!
Closer my babe!
Far o’er the dun wold,
‘Mid the mist and the snow, fast, fast, and more fast–
In the teeth of the blast–flies Lilith at last.
Pale Lilith flies!
Nearer, my babe!
By Ganges still the Indian mother weaves
Above her babe her mat of plantain leaves,
And laughing, plaits. Or pausing, sweet and low
Her voice blends with the river’s drowsy flow;
The while she fitful sings that old, old strain,
Forgetting that the love, the deathless pain
Of wandering Lilith lives and throbs again
When falls the tricksy Elf-babes’ mocking cry
Faintly across her crooning lullaby–
Ah, happy babe, that here may sleep
Where the blue river winds along,
And sweet the trysting bulbuls keep
The night o’er-brimmed with pulsing song.
Not so, mine own, as legends tell,
In lands remote, beyond the day,
The soulless babes of Lilith dwell,
Or vanish ‘mong the cold mists gray.
Or oft in elfin glee they ride
O’er burning deserts blown adrift,
Or singing idly, idly glide
Afar beyond Night’s purple rift.
But thou, my babe, for thee shall grow
The lilies, nodding by the stream;
For thee, the poppy’s sleepy glow;
For thee, the jonquil’s pallid gleam.
My baby, sleep! Against the sky
The pippul lifts its trembling crest.
O baby, hush each wailing cry,
Close to the holy river’s breast.
Not here shall come that pale wraith fair,
Who, wandering once in Northern lands,
Bore o’er long reaches sere and bare
The death-flower white, for baby hands.
Fear not, mine own, the Elf-babes shrill,
Nor Lilith tall, with brow of snow.
They may not haunt thy slumbers still
Where Ganges’ sacred waters flow.
Where coral reefs gnaw with white cruel teeth
The yellow surf, and the torn billows seethe–
When shines the Southern Cross o’er placid isles,
The Afric mother sits, and singing, smiles,
Unheeding that a dead world’s hidden pain
Beats wildly rhythmic through her pure refrain,
And lingers softly still an echoed sigh
Low in Earth’s cradle-song–sweet lullaby.
A warning song of doom–a song of woe,
Of terror wild, she sings, down bending low,
The while bright gleams the Starry Cross above
Yet tells to her no tale of tender love
Of Him who lifteth after-time a cross
That healeth all the wide world’s sin and loss.
Ah, linger no longer ‘mong blooms of the mangoes,
Nor pluck the bright shells by the low sighing sea,
Swift, swift, through the groves of the palms and acacias
Comes Lilith, the childless one, seeking for thee.
She will bind thee so fast in her yellow-gold hair–
Ah, hasten, my children, of Lilith beware!
Cold, cold are her cheeks as the spray of the wild sea,
Red, red are her lips as the pomegranate’s bloom;
Cold, cold are the kisses the phantom will give thee,
Ah, cruel her kisses, that smell of the tomb.
Hist, hist! ’tis the sorceress with yellow-gold hair–
Oh! lullaby, baby–of Lilith beware.
She flies to the jungle, with false tales beguiling,
Ah, hear’st thou her elfin babes scream overhead!
Close, close in her strong arms she bears my babe, smiling;
She hath sucked the soft bloom from the lips of my dead.
Now far speeds the vampire, with yellow-gold hair–
Oh! lullaby, baby–of Lilith beware!
Art frighted, my baby? Nay, then, thy mother
Low singing enfolds thee all safe from the snare;
Afar flit the Elf-babes ‘mid gray, misty shadows,
Afar flees the temptress with yellow-gold hair.
Ah, heed not her songs in the still slumbrous air–
Oh! lullaby, baby–of Lilith beware!
When hawthorn-trees sift thick their rifted snow,
The English mother o’er her babe sings low;
Where red the cross burns on the ivied fane,
Unwitting, pagan Lilith lives again–
And softer sings, nor feels the wailing pain
Still faintly surging through that low refrain;
Nor dreams she hears Love’s early cradle cry
Slow echoing through Earth’s song–sweet lullaby–
And in the shadow of that cross, her strain
Breathes sweetly; love, and hope, and ended pain.
Softlier while that small arm closely clings
About her heart, that mother peaceful sings:
O babe, my babe, the light doth fade!
My baby, sleep, while I do keep
Close watch, where thou art lowly laid.
Sweet dreams shall steep thy slumber deep.
Ah, little feet, be still at last–
Rest all the night, for day is past;
One watches thee from yon blue sky,
One watching here sings lullaby,
Here on his bed the sunny head
Lies still; and soft the brown eyes close;
Sweet steals the breath, ‘twixt lips as red,
As dewy fresh, as new-born rose.
O little lips, be hushed at last;
Fear naught, sweetheart, though day be past.
One looks adown from yon far sky,
One close beside, sings lullaby,