Angels of Sunderland. In Memoriam, June 16th, 1893.
On the sixteenth of June, eighteen eighty-three,
The children of Sunderland hastened to see,
Strange wonders performed by a mystic man,
Believing, - as only young children can.
And merry groups chattered, as hand in hand,
They careered through the streets of Sunderland.
In holiday dress, and with faces clean,
And hearts as light as the lightest, I ween; -
The hall was soon crowded, and wondering eyes,
Expressed their delight at each fresh surprise;
The sight of their bright, eager faces was grand, -
Such a mass of fair blossoms of Sunderland.
With wonder and laughter the moments fly,
And the wizard at last bade them all good-bye,
But not till he promised that each one there,
In his magical fortune should have a share; -
Such a wonderful man with such liberal hand,
Had never before been in Sunderland.
They danced, and they shouted, and full of glee,
They rushed to find out what these presents could be,
And the sea of young faces was borne along,
Until checked by a barrier, stout and strong;
And then the bright current was brought to a stand,
And a heart piercing shriek rang through Sunderland.
Then the hearts of the little ones filled with fear,
With a sickening sense of a danger near;
And with frantic efforts they strove to flee,
To the homes where they knew there would safety be;
And deaf alike to request or command,
Rushed to death, - the sweet flowers of Sunderland.
Swift flew the alarm from street to street,
And swiftly responded the hurrying feet.
Fathers and mothers with grief gone wild,
Cried as they ran, "Oh, my child! my child!"
Women half fainting, and men all unmanned, -
'Twas a sad, sad day for Sunderland.
Pen cannot tell what keen anguish wrung,
Their bleeding hearts, as the fair and young,
Were dragged from the struggling, groaning mass,
Mangled, disfigured and dead, Alas!
And offers of help came from every hand,
For they were the children of Sunderland.
Quickly and tenderly, one by one,
They were brought to light, till the task was done;
The wounded were tended with kindness and skill;
Side by side lay the dead, - all so ghastly and still; -
What a terrible tale told that silent band,
As the Sabbath sun rose over Sunderland.
In the promise of beauty and strength cut down,
Two hundred spirits from earth had flown;
Two hundred frail caskets that love could not save,
Awaiting their last earthly home in the grave;
And a crowd of white angels expectant stand,
To welcome the angels from Sunderland.
Woe in the cottage, and woe in the hall; -
Woe in the hearts of the great and the small; -
Woe in the streets, - in the houses of prayer;
Woe had its dwelling place everywhere.
Suffering and sorrow on every hand, -
Woe-woe-woe throughout Sunderland.
Who can give comfort in grief such as this?
Man's arm is helpless, - no power is his.
There is but One unto whom we can flee,
One who in mercy cries, "Come unto me."
One who in pity outstretches His hand,
To the heart-broken mourners of Sunderland.
Sad will the homes be for many a day,
Where the light of the household has been snatched away;
But through the dull cloud of our sorrow and pain,
Shines the hope that at last we may meet them again;
For on the bright shores of the 'better land,'
Are gathered the treasures of Sunderland.
Angels of Sunderland. In Memoriam, June 16th, 1893. by John Hartley