I’ll lend you for a little time the animals of mine, He said.
For you to love while they live, and mourn for when they are dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But, will you, till I call them back, take care of them for me?
They will bring their charms to gladden you, and shall they stay be brief,
You’ll have their lovely memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise they will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want these animals to learn.
I’ve searched the wide world over in my search for a teacher true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.
Now will you give them all of your love, nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to call, to take them back again?
I fancied that I heard you say, Dear Lord, it will be done,
For all the joys these animals will bring, the risk of grief I’ll run!
I’ll shelter them with tenderness, I’ll love them while I may,
And for the happiness I’ve known, I will forever grateful stay.
But shall the angels call for them much sooner than I planned,
I’ll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand.