Robert Southey, "The Idiot Boy'

IT had pleased God to form poor Ned
A thing of idiot mind;
Yet to the poor, unreasoning boy
God had not been unkind.

Old Sarah loved her helpless child,
Whom helplessness made dear,
And life was everything to him
Who knew no hope or fear.

She knew his wants, she understood
Each half-articulate call,
For he was everything to her,
And she to him was all.

And so for many a year they lived,
Nor knew a wish beside;
But age at length on Sarah came,
And she fell sick and died.

He tried in vain to waken her,
He called her o'er and o'er;
They told him she was dead,—the word
To him no import bore.

They closed her eyes and shrouded her,
Whilst he stood wondering by,
And when they bore her to the grave
He followed silently.

They laid her in the narrow house,
And sung the funeral stave,
And when the mournful train dispersed
He loitered by the grave.

The rabble boys that used to jeer
Whene'er they saw poor Ned,
Now stood and watched him at the grave,
And not a word was said.

They came and went and came again,
And night at last drew on,
Yet still he lingered at the place
Till every one had gone.

And when he found himself alone
He quick removed the clay,
And raised the coffin in his arms
And bore it quick away.

Straight went he to his mother's cot
And laid it on the floor,
And with the eagerness of joy
He barred the cottage door.

At once he placed his mother's corpse
Upright within her chair,
And then he heaped the hearth and blew
The kindling fire with care.

She now was in her wonted chair,
It was her wonted place,
And bright the fire blazed and flashed,
Reflected from her face.

Then, bending down, he'd feel her hands,
Anon her face behold;
"Why, mother, do you look so pale,
And why are you so cold?"

And when the neighbors on next morn
Had forced the cottage door,
Old Sarah's corpse was in the chair,
And Ned's was on the floor.

It had pleased God from this poor boy
His only friend to call;
Yet God was not unkind to him,
For death restored him all.
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