(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

The Planting

PLANT it safe and sure, my child,
Then cease watching and cease weeping;
You have done your utmost part:
Leave it with a quiet heart:
It will grow while you are sleeping.

'But, O father,' says the child,
With a troubled face up-creeping,
'How can I but think and grieve
When the fierce wind comes at eve
Tearing it--and I lie sleeping!

'I have loved my young tree so!
In each bud seen leaf and floweret,
Watered it each day with prayers,
Guarded it with many cares,
Lest some canker should devour it.

'O good father,' sobs the child,
'If I come in summer's shining
And my pretty tree be dead,
How the sun will scorch my head,
How I shall sit lorn, repining!

'Rather let me, evermore,
An incessant watch thus keeping,
Bear the cold, the storm, the frost,
That my treasure be not lost--
Ay, bear aught--but idle sleeping.'

Sternly said the father then,
'Who art thou, child, vainly grieving?
Canst thou send the balmy dews,
Or the rich sap interfuse
Through the dead trunk, inly living?

'Canst thou bid the heavens restrain
Natural tempests for thy praying?
Canst thou bend one tender shoot,
Urge the growth of one frail root,
Keep one leaflet from decaying?

'If it live to bloom all fair,
Will it praise thee for its blossom?
If it die, will any plaints
Reach thee, as with kings and saints
Drops it to the cold earth's bosom?

'Plant it--all thou canst!--with prayers;
It is safe 'neath His sky's folding
Who the whole earth compasses,
Whether we watch more or less,
His wide eye all things beholding.

'Should He need a goodly tree
For the shelter of the nations,
He will make it grow: if not,
Never yet His love forgot
Human love, and faith, and patience.

'Leave thy treasure in His hand--
Cease all watching and all weeping:
Years hence, men its shade may crave,
And its mighty branches wave
Beautiful above they sleeping.'

If his hope, tear-sown, that child
Garnered after joyful reaping,
Know I not: yet unawares
Gleams this truth through many cares,
'It will grow while thou art sleeping.'

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