The children sit by the fireside
With their little faces in bloom;
And behind, the lily-pale mother,
Looking out of the gloom,
Flushes in cheek and forehead
With a light and sudden start;
But the father sits there silent,
From the firelight apart.
"Now, what dost thou see in the embers?
Tell it to me, my child,"
Whispers the lily-pale mother
To her daughter sweet and mild.
"O, I see a sky and a moon
In the coals and ashes there,
And under, two are walking
In a garden of flowers so fair.
"A lady gay, and her lover,
Talking with low-voiced words,
Not to waken the dreaming flowers
And the sleepy little birds."
Back in the gloom the mother
Shrinks with a sudden sigh.
"Now, what dost thou see in the embers?"
Cries the father to the boy.
"O, I see a wedding-procession
Go in at the church's door,--
Ladies in silk and knights in steel,--
A hundred of them, and more.
"The bride's face is as white as a lily,
And the groom's head is white as snow;
And without, with plumes and tapers,
A funeral paces slow."
Loudly then laughed the father,
And shouted again for cheer,
And called to the drowsy housemaid
To fetch him a pipe and beer.