Lillie of the Snowstorm

Henry Clay Work

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To his home, his once white, once lov'd cottage,
Late at night, a poor inebriate came;
To his wife, the waiting wife and daughter
Who for him had fann'd the midnight flame.
Rudely met, they answer'd him with kindness --
Gave him all their own untasted store;
'Twas but small, and he with awful curses,
Spurn'd the gift, and drove them from the door.

While the storm, the wild wild wintry tempest,
Swept across the prairies cold and white;

What a shame that Lillie and her mother
Were abroad on such a fearful night!

Far across the prairie stood a dwelling,
Where from harm they oft had found retreat;
Thither now, all brave and uncomplaining,
Did they urge their weary, wayworn feet.
But their strength, unequal to their courage,
Fail'd them as they wander'd to and fro;
Till at last, the feeble, fainting mother,
Speechless sank upon the drifted snow.

Lillie prays -- the harps are hush'd in Heaven --
Angels poise them midway in the sky;
Up from earth there comes a wail of sorrow,
Such a wail as must be heard on High.
"Father dear! my other, better Father!
Won't you hear your daughter Lillie pray?
Won't you send some strong and careful angel,
Who will help my mother on her way?"

Morning dawns -- the husband and the father,
Sober'd now, to seek his flock has come;
Lillie dear is living, but her mother --
Hours ago, an angel bore her home.
Ah, poor man! how bitter is his anguish,
As he now repents his punish'd sins,
Bending o'er the child, who, half unconscious,
Sadly cries, "Please father, let us in!"

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