The shadows drop down o'er the fields tinged with brown,
   Where the snow-drifts were gleaming of late,
And the day shuts her eyes, while th' red western skies
   Make ready the chambers of state.
How still the house seems! while round about gleams
   Th' last mellow rays of th' sun.
There's no step on the stair---no voice anywhere,
   Crying, "Mother, the last task is done!"

Can it be I'm alone? can it be there are none
   Left of eight, who have called me that name?
Four boys and four girls, with their tresses and curls,
   Four brave boys, four fair girls, that came
To my home one by one, like lost rays from the sun,
   And where are they all now? I pray;
Like birds from the nest, the babes on my breast
   Took wing, and have fluttered away.

There was John, my first child; as gentle and mild
   As the maiden that grew at his side,---
First to come, last to stay; but death called him away,---
   It is two years, to-day since he died.
Hope, Mary, and Joe are all married, and so
   Have gone into homes of their own;
Mark is over the sea, and Flora---hush! we
   Never speak of the one who has flown.

My Will, bonny Will, fell at Champion Hill---
   My dark-eyed, my raven-tressed son;
There was one at his side fell too; and Kate died
   Of grieving for Will---and that one!
Yet bravely we try, my life-mate and I,
   To be happy and cheerful alway.
God knows best what to do; yet I think if we knew
   She were dead, 'twould seem better to-day.


Shells. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee:Hauser & Storey, 1873.

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