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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

June 23

The Cradle Tomb in Westminster Abbey

By Susan Coolidge (1835–1905)

  • The tomb of Sophia, infant daughter of James I. This princess only lived three days, dying on June 23, 1606.

  • A LITTLE, rudely sculptured bed,

    With shadowing folds of marble lace,

    And quilt of marble, primly spread

    And folded round a baby’s face.

    Smoothly the mimic coverlet,

    With royal blazonries bedight,

    Hangs, as by tender fingers set

    And straightened for the last good-night.

    And traced upon the pillowing stone

    A dent is seen, as if to bless

    The quiet sleep, some grieving one

    Had leaned, and left a soft impress.

    It seems no more than yesterday

    Since the sad mother down the stair

    And down the long aisle stole away,

    And left her darling sleeping there.

    But dust upon the cradle lies,

    And those who prized the baby so,

    And laid her down to rest with sighs,

    Were turned to dust long years ago.

    Above the peaceful pillowed head

    Three centuries brood, and strangers peep

    And wonder at the carven bed,—

    But not unwept the baby’s sleep,

    For wistful mother-eyes are blurred

    With sudden mists, as lingerers stay,

    And the old dusts are roused and stirred

    By the warm tear-drops of to-day.

    Soft, furtive hands caress the stone,

    And hearts, o’erleaping place and age,

    Melt into memories, and own

    A thrill of common parentage.

    Men die, but sorrow never dies;

    The crowding years divide in vain,

    And the wide world is knit with ties

    Of common brotherhood in pain;

    Of common share in grief and loss,

    And heritage in the immortal bloom

    Of Love, which, flowering round its cross,

    Made beautiful a baby’s tomb.