The semblance of your parent's time-worn face|
Is but a sad bequest, my children dear!
Its youth and freshness gone, and in their place
The lines of care, the track of many a tear!
Amid life's wreck, we struggle to secure
Some floating fragment from oblivion's wave
We pant for somewhat that may still endure,
And snatch at least a shadow from the grave.
Poor, weak, and transient mortals! why so vain
Of manly vigor or of beauty's bloom?
An empty shade for ages may remain
When we have moulder'd in the silent tomb.
But no! it is not we who moulder there;
We, of essential light that ever burns,
We take our way through untried fields of air,
When to the earth this earth-born frame returns.
And 'tis the glory of the master's art
Some radiance of this inward light to find;
Some touch that to his canvass may impart
A breath, a sparkle of the immortal mind.
Alas! the pencil's noblest power can show
But some faint shadow of a transient thought,
Some waken'd feeling's momentary glow,
Some swift impression in its passage caught.
Oh! that the artist's pencil could portray|
A father's inward bosom to your eyes;
What hopes, and fears, and doubts perplex his way,
What aspirations for your welfare rise.
Then might this unsubstantial image prove,
When I am gone, a guardian of your youth,
A friend for ever urging you to move
In paths of honor, holiness, and truth.
Let fond imagination's power supply
The void that baffles all the painter's art;
And when those mimic features meet your eye,
Then fancy that they speak a parent's heart.
Think that you still can trace within those eyes
The kindling of affection's fervid beam,
The searching glance that every fault espies,
The fond anticipation's pleasing dream.
Fancy those lips still utter sounds of praise,
Or kind reproof that checks each wayward will,
The warning voice, or precepts that may raise
Your thoughts above this treach'rous world of ill.
And thus shall Art attain her loftiest power;
To noblest purpose shall her efforts tend
Not the companion of an idle hour,
But Virtue's handmaid and Religion's friend.
"Dear Children, Take this image of your father after he's broken down by worrying about you. And someday when
you look at it, remember that he may just be a mass of squirming worms, but his spirit is still hovering at your shoulder
to remind you to be good and that, someday, you'll be dead, too."
Now where is a good place to put this picture? I know! How about under the mattress!