A gentle loving thoughtful boy,
But happy, gay and bright:
A gleam of sunshine from the sky
That filled a home with light.
And whether busied with his play
Throughout the passing summer day,
Or sleepless in the night
A simple song by children sung,
For ever in his memory rung,
Found gleeful utterance from his tongue
And filled him with delight —
“Jesus loves me — He will stay
Close beside me all the way.”
But now across the morning sky
The shade of night has rolled —
Lay all his little playthings by,
His hands are still and cold.
His loving eyes once bright as day
Are turning to their former clay —
No more:— the tale is told:
The soul has left that pulseless breast
For regions of eternal rest.
Ay but to die — a child, alone
Without a guard or guide
To launch into the vast unknown
Where shapeless phantoms glide,
To cross the gulf no bridge can span
To realms unseen by living man
All strange and yet untried.
With no familiar loved one near
To charm away his childish fear,
And give him one soft word of cheer
To break the dreary void.
Alas! conjecture seems to swim
And reason waxes faint and dim,
But faith affirms ’tis well with him
Whatever may betide.
Jesus loves him — He will stay
Close beside him all the way.
K. B. [Kate Baker] (editor), The Poems of Joseph Furphy, Melbourne: Lothian Book Publishing Co., 1916, page 38
clay = in the context of mankind, a reference to the idea that God made man out of clay; from Genesis 2:7 in the Old Testament of the Bible, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”, which has sometimes been referred to as God making man out of clay (e.g. “Man is made out of clay; he is an animal. Into the clay of man God has breathed the spiritual life; he is a son of God.”) [see: Rev. Lyman Abbott, “Conversion”, The Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW), Saturday 13 August 1892, page 9]
[Editor: Added a comma to “happy, gay”.]