My spirit, in the doorway’s pause,|
Fluttered with fancies in my breast;
Obsequious to all decent laws,
I felt exceedingly distressed.
I knew it rude to enter there
With Mrs. V. in such a state;
And, ’neath a magisterial air,
Felt actually indelicate.
I knew the nurse began to grin;
I turned to greet my Love. Said she —
‘Confound your modesty, come in!
— What shall we call the darling, V.?’
(There are so many charming names!
Girls’ — Peg, Moll, Doll, Fan, Kate, Blanche, Bab:
Boys’ — Mahershalal-hashbaz, James,
Luke, Nick, Dick, Mark, Aminadab.)
Lo, as the acorn to the oak,
As well-heads to the river’s height,
As to the chicken the moist yolk,
As to high noon the day’s first white —
Such is the baby to the man.
There, straddling one red arm and leg,
Lay my last work, in length a span,
Half hatched, and conscious of the egg.
A creditable child, I hoped;
And half a score of joys to be
Through sunny lengths of prospect sloped
Smooth to the bland futurity.
O, fate surpassing other dooms,
O, hope above all wrecks of time!
O, light that fills all vanquished glooms,
O, silent song o’ermastering rhyme!
I covered either little foot,
I drew the strings about its waist;
Pink as the unshell’d inner fruit,
But barely decent, hardly chaste,
Its nudity had startled me;
But when the petticoats were on,
‘I know,’ I said; ‘its name shall be
Paul Cyril Athanasius John.’
‘Why,’ said my wife, ‘the child’s a girl.’
My brain swooned, sick with failing sense;
With all perception in a whirl,
How could I tell the difference?
‘Nay,’ smiled the nurse, ‘the child’s a boy.’
And all my soul was soothed to hear
That so it was: then startled Joy
Mocked Sorrow with a doubtful tear.
And I was glad as one who sees
For sensual optics things unmeet:
As purity makes passion freeze,
So faith warns science off her beat.
Blessed are they that have not seen,
And yet, not seeing, have believed:
To walk by faith, as preached the Dean,
And not by sight, have I achieved.
Let love, that does not look, believe;
Let knowledge, that believes not, look:
Truth pins her trust on falsehood’s sleeve,
While reason blunders by the book.
Then Mrs. Prig addressed me thus:
‘Sir, if you’ll be advised by me,
You’ll leave the blessed babe to us;
It’s my belief he wants his tea.’