The Child’s Last Sleep
Alas our little flower of flowers
Is gathered to her mother earth,
And in a fairer world than ours
She has another birth
She turned her sweet face to the light,
She thought the rainbow spanned the air,
And when it vanished from her sight,
Lo, Paradise was there.
She laid her little hand in thine,
And motioned for one other kiss,
And with that tender parting sign,
Passed into endless bliss.
She raised her arms with gentle grace,
As though to greet some angel guest,
And with the welcome on her face,
Sunk to her dreamless rest.
We watched in fear her slumbers deep,
So faint was each expiring breath,
And to the last we thought it sleep-
It was the sleep of death.
Slowly she closed, without a pain,
Her loving eyes of cloudless blue,
And when her vision cleared again,
Her heaven was cloudless too.
Source: North Carolina Whig (Charlotte, NC), December 2, 1862 as found in www.digitalnc.org.
** Note: In the 1850s in America the infant mortality rate in the United States was estimated at nearly 22% for babies born for whites and 34% for African American children. Mortality rates decreased sharply as children aged, with the most vulnerable periods occurring between birth and 4 years.