Traits and Trials of Early Life/The Little Boy's Bed Time

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Translated from Madame Desborde Valmore.

Hush! no more fire, no noise—all round is still.
See the pale moon hath on th' horizon risen
While thou wert speaking,Victor Hugo.

    Sleep, little Paul, what, crying, hush ! the night is very dark;
The wolves are near the rampart, the dogs begin to bark;
The bell has rung for slumber, and the guardian angel weeps
When a little child beside the hearth so late a play-time keeps.

    "I will not always go to sleep, I like to watch the light
Of the fire upon my sabre, so glittering and so bright;
And I will keep the wolves at bay, if they approach the door;"
And again the little naughty one sat undrest upon the floor.

    "My God! forgive the wayward child who mocks his mother's word;
Oh Thou! the long in suffering! whose wrath is slowly stirr'd;
Knowledge within the opening soul has but a feeble ray,
Wait till he knows Thy graciousness! wait till a future day.

    "The little birds since set of sun are plunged in slumbers deep;
The long grass and the lonely trees are filled with them asleep;
The little birds, new from the shell, have left the topmost bough,
And 'neath the midnight's trembling shade they all are resting now.

    "Closed is the dove-cot, quiet there the cooing pigeons rest,
The azure waters rock beneath the sleeping swan's white breast;
Paul, three times has the careful hen counted her brood anew;
They sleep within her sheltering wings, but, Paul, I wait for you.

    "The sinking moon looks down from heaven her last farewell to take,
And, pale and angry, asks, 'Who is the child I see awake?'
Lo! there upon her cloudy bed she is already laid,
And sleeps within the circle dark of midnight's dusky shade.

    "The little beggar, only he, is wandering in the street,
Poor sufferer! at such an hour, with cold and tired feet.
He wanders wearily, and hangs his little languid head;
How glad, how thankful would he be for a soft warm bed."

    Then little Paul, though watching still anxious his shining sword,
Folded his clothes and laid him down without another word:
And soon his mother bent to kiss his eyelids' deep repose,
Tranquil and sweet as angel hands had bade those eyelids close.