CHEERFUL voices by the sea-side
Echoed through the summer air,
Happy children, fresh and rosy,
Sang and sported freely there,
Often turning friendly glances,
Where, neglectful of them all,
On his bed among the gray rocks,
Mused the pale child, little Paul.
For he never joined their pastimes,
Never danced upon the sand,
Only smiled upon them kindly,
Only waved his wasted hand.
Many a treasured gift they bore him,
Best beloved among them all.
Many a childish heart grieved sadly,
Thinking of poor little Paul.
But while Florence was beside him,
While her face above him bent,
While her dear voice sounded near him,
He was happy and content;
Watching ever the great billows,
Listening to their ceaseless fall,
For they brought a pleasant music
To the ear of little Paul.
'Sister Floy,' the pale child whispered,
'What is that the blue waves say?
What strange message are they bringing
From that shore so far away?
Who is dwelling in that country
Whence a low voice seems to call
Softly, through the dash of waters,
'Come away, my little Paul'?'
But sad Florence could not answer,
Though her dim eyes tenderly
Watched the wistful face, that ever
Gazed across the restless sea,
While the sunshine like a blessing
On his bright hair seemed to fall,
And the winds grew more caressing,
As they kissed frail little Paul.
Ere long, paler and more wasted,
On another bed he lay,
Where the city's din and discord
Echoed round him day by day;
While the voice that to his spirit
By the sea-side seemed to call,
Sounded with its tender music
Very near to little Paul.
As the deep tones of the ocean
Linger in the frailest shell,
So the lonely sea-side musings
In his memory seemed to dwell.
And he talked of golden waters
Rippling on his chamber wall,
While their melody in fancy
Cheered the heart of little Paul.
Clinging fast to faithful Florence,
Murmuring faintly night and day,
Of the swift and darksome river
Bearing him so far away,
Toward a shore whose blessed sunshine
Seemed most radiantly to fall
On a beautiful mild spirit,
Waiting there for little Paul.
So the tide of life ebbed slowly,
Till the last wave died away,
And nothing but the fragile wreck
On the sister's bosom lay.
And from out death's solemn waters,
Lifted high above them all,
In her arms the spirit mother
Bore the soul of little Paul.
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