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[404] His house had no pleasant pictures;
     Its comfortless walls were bare:
But the riches of earth and ocean
     Could not purchase his mother's chair.

The old chair, quaintly carven,
     With oaken arms outspread,
Whereby, in the long gone twilights,
     His childish prayers were said.

For thence in his long night watches,
     By moon or starlight dim,
A face full of love and pity
     And tenderness looked on him.

And oft, as the grieving presence
     Sat in his mother's chair,
The groan of his self-upbraiding
     Grew into wordless prayer.

At last, in the moonless midnight,
     The summoning angel came,
Severe in his pity, touching
     The house with fingers of flame.

The red light flashed from its windows
     And flared from its sinking roof;
And baffled and awed before it
     The villagers stood aloof.

They shrank from the falling rafters,
     They turned from the furnace glare;
But its tenant cried, “God help me!
     I must save my mother's chair.”

Under the blazing portal,
     Over the floor of fire,
He seemed, in the terrible splendor,
     A martyr on his pyre.

In his face the mad flames smote him,
     And stung him on either side;
But he clung to the sacred relic,—
     By his mother's chair he died!

O mother, with human yearnings!
     O saint, by the altar stairs!

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