Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Fever-Cloud

The fever-cloud hung owre the toun,
Dark drippin' wi' the dews o' death,
That fell on mony a lowly hame
Wi' silent, stealin,' deidly skaith.
There burnin,' ravin', moanin' lay
The stricken faither an' the wife,
An' maybe bairnies twa or three
Juist hingin' owre the verge o' life.
Sair fley'd, the neebors aft stude back;
To tend the sick they daurdna gang,
For fear o' bein' ta'en themsel's,
An' sae their ain at hame wad wrang.
But some wha ventured were preserv'd,
An' afterhen were glad to think
Hoo they had rais'd the deein' heid,
An' held to fever'd lips the drink.
The mourners ne'er were aff the streets;
An' ilka day the auld kirkyaird
Had open graves, an' mony mair
New happit wi' the turn'd-up swaird.
An' aye the deidly fever-cloud
Was hingin' owre the smitten toun;
An' in the sodgers' barracks laid
Hoo mony bauld, braw fallows doun!
Hoo aft the music o' the band,
Sad, solemn, mournfu', thrill'd the air,
Whan marchin' wi' the funeral train
That to the grave a comrade bare!
An' whan the fever cloud had pass'd,
White were the cheeks an' howe the een
That leukit oot frae mony doors,
Sair langin' for the fields sae green.
A dark dull house-a puir man's hame,
Stude in the warst pairt o' the toun,
An' there his gude an' lovin' wife
Lay wi' the fever stricken doun.
The fever-fire had burn'd her sair,
Yet she cam' thro' an' gat the turn;
But, oh! her strength was gane, an' sae
This pious dochter sair did mourn.
For in the neist bed there was laid
Her aged faither, near to death,
An', whaur she lay, she heard a change
Come wi' his gaspin', rattlin' breath.
Oh, noo, her heart was like to break,
For she cou'd naither gang nor staun';
But, slippin' owre the bed, she tried
To creep to him on knee and haun'.
The bed was laigh, an', as she knelt,
She saw upon her faither's face-
Damp wi' the dews o' death-a gleam
O' heavenly licht-the licht o' grace.
A whisper frae her quiv'rin' lips
Fell on her deein' faither's ear-
'My faither, rests thy saul in peace;
For death is near-oh, very near?'
He whisper'd low-'I rest in Christ-
Nae shade o' doot for fifty years
Hath dimm'd my faith-He gives me peace;
Death hath nae sting, my saul nae fears.'
'Bless me, my faither;' an' she rais'd
His haun' an' laid it on her head.
'My faither's God an' mine be yours,'
In mutter'd, broken words he said.
A quiv'rin' spasm slightly stirr'd
His lip an' cheek-a lang, deep sigh;
He pass'd in peace, he gaed to rest-
The Rest eternal in the sky.
Some twa-three hours had gane, an' syne
Hame cam' the gudeman frae his wark;
His helpless wife lay near the bed,
Whaur lay the faither stiff an' stark.
'Oh! Mary, what is this?' he said,
An' liftit her intil the bed;
An' kin'ly neebors sune cam' in
To tend the wife an' dress the dead.
Oh! Mary Lee, a faithfu' wife
Thou wert-a dochter true an' kin';
In weal an' wae, in life an' death,
Thy faither's God was ever thine.
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