The Drunkard's Child

Onward, . (1880) The Drunkard's Child. [Image]

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This poem and illustration, appearing in Onward in 1880, show how poignant images were presented to children as well as adults. In the story the child, abandoned by her parents, freezes to death.

We are in the pleasant meadows,
By the water-brook once more,
And the old, old love of flowers
Creeps on us, as of yore.
Men have their golden treasures,
With what such treasures bring ;
And little children - what have they?-
The flowers of the spring.

Death of the Drunkard's Child.

She fell asleep upon a doorstep cold,
The night-wind's moaning was her lullaby ;
The snowflakes fell amongst her curls of gold,
And kissed her fair row softly, silently.

Did her wan face reflect the smiles so sweet
Of the bright forms that hovered o'er her head?
Angels can linger in the dreary street
As well as round the snug, white-curtained bed.

What was it made the white lips quiver so?-
Had some strange dream the little one beguiled?
Or had an angel-mother, bending low,
Tenderly kissed her lonely, sleeping child?

The clock struck one! The echoes died away,
And the broad street was silent as before;
And still in sweet forgetfulness she lay
Sleeping outside the stately mansion's door.

She did not hear the policeman's heavy tread,
She was not startled by his loud, stern tone;
And when he laid his hand upon her head
The blue eyes opened not - she still slept on!

His strong arms bore her from the dreary street,
He laid her down upon a workhouse bed;
But ah! the little heart had ceased to beat.
Help came too late! The drunkard's child was dead!

Upon the puny arms and shoulders bare
Were purple marks, which told their own sad tale,
And drops of blood from 'neath the shining hair
Had flowed, and dried upon the cheek so pale.

'Tis not an idle tale, 'tis not a dream,
'Tis ot a thing which seldom doth occur;
Howe'er incredible the fact may seems,
It is a living truth, that year by year,

Hundreds of drunkards' children, far too frail
To battle with harsh blows and poverty,
Live for a while, till strength and courage fail,
Then, worn with constant strife, they droop and die.

Mina E. Goulding.

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