L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

. (page 1 of 20)
Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 1 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


g mes



A BOOK OF ENGLISH VERSE ON
INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO
DALLAS SAN FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO





ON

INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD



CHOSKN BY

L. S. WOOD



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

1921



GLASGOW : PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS
BY ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. LTD.



TO

THE SWEET MEMORY
OF MY LITTLE DAUGHTER

TENNY
(ETHEL CAROLINE- TENNANT WOOD'

14 NOV. 1916 7 JUNE 1919
Primitiae Deo et Agno Sacrae



CONTENTS



INTRODUCTION



A BOOK OF ENGLISH VERSE ON INFANCY AND

CHILDHOOD - - - i

NOTES 33 1

LIST OF AUTHORS 354

INDEX OF FIRST LINES 35 8



INTRODUCTION

THIS Anthology is not a book of verse for chil-
dren, but a book of verse about children. It
has been said that childhood is the discovery
of English poetry, but there appears to exist
on this theme no representative anthology of
English verse, under which title is included
American verse. Childhood has been interpreted
in its real sense, that is, as covering the first
twelve years of life. With the ' teens ' begin
other interests and characteristics.

Childhood is the period of our lives which the
majority of us find it most difficult to recall.
It is true that we remember the incidents of its
later years. The setting of the picture remains
more or less vivid. But the inner meaning
how we felt has become a sealed book to too
many. Few retain the inner light, which
Vaughan and Wordsworth sighed for not wholly
in vain, that enables them to

travel back
And tread again that ancient track.

The activities and trivialities of earth have
blotted out the unsullied vision of childhood
and caused it to fade into the light of common
day.



x INTRODUCTION

It is this sense of remoteness that has inspired
in finer natures a reverence for childhood that
is akin to awe. Francis Thompson felt it :

I would not fear thee, sweet, at all,
Wert thou not so harmless-small.

Mr. G. K. Chesterton doubts if anyone of any
tenderness or imagination can see the hand of
a child and not be a little frightened of it. If
our behaviour to children seems condescending,
it cloaks a profound respect. We feel that they
and their ways are supernatural.

One reason for this is our sense of children's
vast potentialities far greater than ours, since
as yet they arc untrammelled by upbringing and
custom and their complete unconsciousness of
their own wealth. ' Our misery,' wrote Thomas
Traherne in his Centuries of Meditation, ' pro-
ceedeth ten thousand times more from the out-
ward bondage of opinion and custom, than from
any inward corruption or depravation of Nature :
... it is not our parents' loins, so much as our
parents' lives, that enthralls and blinds us : ...
In my pure primitive virgin Light, while my
apprehensions were natural and unmixed, I
cannot remember but that I was ten thousand
times more prone to good and excellent things
than evil.'

Another feature of childhood that eludes us
is children's unquestioning acceptance of the
order of things in which they find themselves.
The writer of the twenty-third Psalm has given
the most complete picture of earthly happiness
that has ever been drawn. He conceived a



INTRODUCTION xi

state of mind accepting earthly conditions and
circumstances without question or doubt, secure
from every care through a sense of Divine pro-
tection, and enjoying the gifts of Nature with
gratitude and simplicity. He depicts that con
tentment that appears to lie within the reach
of all, but to which none attain. Yet childhood
inhabits this country. This Heaven lies about
us in our infancy. The Psalmist has described no
unknown land, but the land through which most
of us have travelled on our way to riper years.
Possibly the memory of it was his inspiration.

It seems to the compiler that there is a place
for a representative anthology of English verse
upon infancy and childhood. The poets are the
world's ' Seers.' They are less influenced by
custom and convention than other men. They
are more conscious of human potentiality and
have a clearer vision of human destiny. In
these and other ways they are nearer to child-
hood and more able to interpret it. Moreover,
poems on childhood are comparatively few in
number, and many of them are little known.
They are scattered in many volumes by many
writers, and the light they throw on the most
beautiful period of human life is thus lost to
persons who are interested in children but who
are not regular readers of poetry.

In this book the aim has been to present
poetry for poetry's sake. The compiler has
used what judgment and ability he has to bind
into the garland nothing that is not worthy
of the august name of Poetry nothing that
does not reach a certain level of genius.



xii INTRODUCTION

For this reason many poems beautiful in con-
ception but lacking something in finish and
form have been excluded. Others, some of them
well known, have been excluded on the ground
that they treat of childhood sentimentally, that
is to say with conventional emotion. A severe
critic may discover here and there a poem that
owes its presence rather to the happy choice
of its subject than to its intrinsic merits. And
poems reminiscent of childhood, poems of
motherhood, incidents from human life and
even aspects of Nature have been included
deliberately, in order to give variety to the
collection and to lighten the task of the reader.
No verbal changes have been made, but a few
of the poems have been extracted from longer
poems and, in the case of Shakespeare, from
plays. In others omissions have been made
when it seemed that by doing so a greater unity
of idea or a more uniform level of excellence was
secured. In a subject anthology such as this
the task of the gatherer is less easy than in a
general anthology. In a general anthology there
is no limitation but length of poem, size of
volume and the law of copyright. In a subject
anthology these restrictions exist, but there is
added to them the limitation of subject. The
aim here has been to offer a book that is repre-
sentative, not exhaustive, and representative of
the poetry on the subject, not of any particular
poet, the bulk of whose work may have lain,
and in most cases did lie, in other directions.

A chronological order chronological accord-
ing to the authors' dates of birth has been



INTRODUCTION xiii

adopted as being on the whole the most interest-
ing and the most satisfactory. This arrangement
has not been rigidly kept in the case of living
authors.

The earliest child poem in the language is The
Pearl, which dates from the fourteenth century.
The poem is some twelve hundred lines in
length ; selection would not be easy, and were
any portion of it included in the present volume
it would be necessary to modernise the language.
But reference must be made to it. The poet
laments the loss of a daughter in early years.
Falling asleep on the grave from sorrow, he
visits in dreams a strange country, where he
meets a white-robed maiden whom eventually
he recognises. He asks her whether she is really
his Pearl, since whose loss he has been ' a joy-
less jeweller.' The picture of the maiden, the
review of Heaven, the painting of the scenery,
and, above all, the strong passion of the writer
make the poem a notable one.

William Langland, in the Vision of Piers
Plowman, tells us the interesting fact that
children became so precious as a result of the
Black Death that there was a tendency to spoil
them, a tendency not common in the fourteenth
century. Chaucer has given two notable pic-
tures of childhood, the little clergeoun of the
Prioress' Tale and the children of Erl Hugelyn
of Pyze, in the tale of the Monk, who concludes
by referring his hearers to Dante. But what
struck foreigners at this time was rather the
lack of affection the English showed to their
children. At the age of seven to nine years



xiv INTRODUCTION

boys and girls alike were bound to hard service
as apprentices in the houses of other people,
whence they seldom returned. In the upper
classes younger sons habitually went out as
pages, and the Pas/on Letters give the impres-
sion that middle-class homes were too full of
the hard business of life to allow of much room
for the domestic affections.

Southwell's Burning Babe stands prominent
among that class of poems to which later
child poetry probably owes much of its inspira-
tion, poems written in honour of the Infant
Christ. Before Southwell was hanged as a Jesuit,
Shakespeare was already famous. The drama
does not lend itself to the portrayal of child-
hood, though children had figured in some of
the Mystery Plays. In the moving scene of
Hubert and Arthur in King John, Arthur
does not speak as a normal child, nor in the
scene in which Gloucester commits the Princes
to the Tower in Richard III. is the Prince's
interest in the history of the Tower natural.
None the less children pass naturally across the
background of several of Shakespeare's plays,
and from his day, in spite of the damping in-
fluence of Puritanism with its insistence upon
intellectualism and conversion, and the con-
sequent zw-perfection of childhood, children
figure more and more in our poetry.

In the child poetry of the seventeenth century
Thomas Traherne to-day takes the foremost
place, though, until his work was given to the
world within the last few years by Mr. Bertram
Dobell, that place was held by Vaughan. Were



it not certain that Traherne's work was unknown
to Wordsworth, it would have been difficult to
believe that he did not owe to him some of his
inspiration.

William Blake is the great child poet of the
eighteenth century. Of Blake, Lamb and Words-
worth were younger contemporaries, and from
the days of Wordsworth, the Laureate of
Childhood, and of his disciple Hartley Coleridge,
the claims and possibilities of childhood as a
theme for poetry have been more and more
generally realised. Wordsworth is not less the
poet of Childhood than the poet of Nature.
Children enter naturally into many of his poems
that are not child poems. It would be difficult
to find a more haunting passage in English
Literature than the lines in Ruth :

I, too, have passed her on the hills
Setting her little water-mills
By spouts and fountains wild
Such small machinery as she turned
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourned,
A young and happy Child !

After Wordsworth, Landor, Keble, Barnes, Long-
fellow, Whittier, Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
Coventry Patmore, Robert Louis Stevenson,
T. E. Brown, Swinburne and Francis Thompson
are some of the names that are prominent. It
would be easy to name many contemporary
poets. The way of regarding childhood that
was the gospel of the few- for Blake, Words-
worth and Lamb were writing of the wonder,
the sanctity and the indefeasible rights of child-



xvi INTRODUCTION

hood during the worst days of the callous
brutality to children that marked the Industrial
Revolution has become during the last hundred
years the accepted creed of the many.

I owe much to my friends. Mr. and Mrs.
G. K. Chesterton, Professor Oliver Elton, Mr.
Edmond Holmes, Judge A. Romer Macklin and
Mr. Dover Wilson have read large portions of
the MS. and given valued advice. I also record
my thanks to Miss Bertha Brown and my
daughter Angela for copying several of the poems,
to Miss A. Mclntosh ' Nannie ' for many
times rearranging the disordered pages of the
MS., and to Miss Dora Nussey for help with some
of the proofs.

For permission to include copyright poems
permission that has often amounted to far more
than consent thanks are due to the Marquess
of Crewe, the Earl of Rosslyn, Dr. Greville
MacDonald, and the Rev. F. M. T. Palgrave
for their fathers' poems, and to Mrs. Duffin
for Angels by her father, J. S. Drennan ;
to Miss Laura B. King for the poem by her
mother, Mrs. Hamilton King ; to Mrs. William
Allingham, Mrs. Beeching, Mrs. Edward Dowden,
Mrs. F. W. H. Myers, and Mrs. Coventry Pat-
more for selections from the works of their
respective husbands ; to Sir Herbert Stephen,
Bart., for his brother's poem Blue Hills ; and
to Mr. Wilfrid Meynell for Francis Thompson's
poems.

For the poems appearing under their names
I have to express my gratitude to the Poet
Laureate, Dr. Robert Bridges, Mr. Henry



Allsopp, Mr. Hilaire Belloc, Mr. Laurence
Binyon, Mr. John le Gay Brereton, Mr. William
Canton, Mr. P. R. Chalmers, Mr. and Mrs.
G. K. Chesterton, Mr. W. H. Davies, the
Rev. W. J. Dawson, Mr. Austin Dobson, Mrs.
Helen Parry Eden, Mr. John Freeman, Miss
Rose Fyleman, Mr. W. W. Gibson, Lady
Glenconner, Mr. Edmund Gosse, Mr. Thomas
Hardy, Mrs. Katharine Tynan Hinkson, Mr.
E. G. A. Holmes, Mr. F. M. Hueffer, Mr.
Rudyard Kipling, Mr. Shane Leslie, Mr. S. R.
Lysaght, Mr. Hugh Macnaghten, Mr. Walter de
la Mare, Mr. John Masefield, Miss Annie Mathe-
son, Mrs. Meynell, Sir Henry Newbolt, Mrs. M.
Nightingale, Mr. Alfred Noyes, Mr. James
Rhoades, Mr. G. W. Russell, Sir Owen Seaman,
Miss Cicely Fox Smith, Sir Rabindranath Tagore,
Mrs. M. St. J. Webb, Mrs. Margaret L. Woods,
and Mr. G. Winthrop Young.

My obligations to publishers are included in
the Notes.

Every effort has been made to trace .those
holding rights over poems that may still be
copyright. If there are any authors, executors
or publishers whose rights have been over-
looked, I assure them that the fault is unin-
tentional and beg their forgiveness.

L. S. W.

THE CLIFF, ILKLEY,
YORKS, 6th August, 1920.



Then were there brought unto him little children, that he
should put his hands on them, and pray : and the disciples
rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little childien, and
forbid them not, to come unto me : for of such is the kingdom
of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed
thence. Matt. xix. 13-15.



And they brought young children to him, that he should
touch them : and his disciples rebuked those that brought
them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and
said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not : for of such is the kingdom of God.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom
of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he
took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and
blessed them. Mark x. 13-16.



And they brought unto him also infants, that he would
touch them : but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children
to come unto me, and forbid them not : for of such is the
kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not
receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise
enter therein. Luke xviii. 15-17.



At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying,
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ? And Jesus
called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom
of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this
little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name
receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones
which believe in me, it were better that a millstone were
hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth
of the sea. . . . Take heed that ye despise not one of these
little ones ; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do
always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Matt, xviii. 1-6 and 10.



gtook of (English ierse on
Infiwci) nnb (Slhilbhoab



ANONYMOUS



FIFTEENTH CENTURY CAROL

I sing of a maiden

That is makeles,
King of all kings

To her son she ches.

He came al so still
There his mother was,

As dew in April

That falleth on the grass.

He came al so still
To his mother's bour,

As dew in April

That falleth on the flour.

He came al so still
There his mother lay.

As dew in April

That falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden

Was never none but she ;

Well may such a lady
Goddes mother be.



ENGLISH VERSE

JOHN SKELTON
ii

TO MAY STRESS ISABELL PEN NELL

By saynt Mary, my lady,
Your mammy and your dady
Brought forth a godely babi !

My mayden Isabell,
Reflating rosabell.
The flagrant camamell ;

The ruddy rosary.
The souerayne rosemary,
The praty strawbery ;

The columbyne, the nepte,
The ieloffer well set,
The propre vyolet ;

Enuwyd your colowre
Is lyke the dasy flowre
After the April! showre ;

Sterre of the morow gray,
The blossom on the spray,
The fresshest flowre of May ;

Maydenly demure,
Of womanhode the lure ;
Wherfore I make you sure,

It were an heuenly helth,
It were an endeles welth,
A lyfe for God hymselfe,

To here this nightingale,
Amonge the byrdes smale,
Warbelynge in the vale,
Dug, dug,
lug, iug,

Good yere and good luk,
With chuk, chuk, chuk, chuk !



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD

RICHARD EDWARDES

in
MADRIGAL

In going to my naked bed,

As one that would have slept,

I heard a wife sing to her child

That long before had wept.

She sighed sore and sang full sweet

To bring the babe to rest.

That would not cease, but cried still

In sucking at her breast.

She was full weary of her watch,

And grieved with her child :

She rocked it, and rated it,

Till that on her it smil'd.

Then did she say, ' Now have I found

This proverb true to prove,

" The falling out of faithful friends

Renewing is of love." '



EDMUND SPENSER



THE POET'S BOYHOOD

Whilome in youth, when flower'd my joyful

spring,

Like swallow swift I wandred here and there ;
For heate of heedless lust me so did sting,
That I of doubted danger had no feare :

I went the wastefull woodes and forest wide,
Withouten dreade of wolves to bene espyed.

I wont to raunge amydde the mazie thickette,
And gather nuttes to make me Christmas game,
And joyed oft to chase the trembling pricket.



4 ENGLISH VERSE

Or hunt the hartless hare till she were tame.
What wreaked I of wintrye ages waste ?
Tho deemed I my spring would ever laste.

How often have I scaled the craggie oke,
All to dislodge the raven of her nest ?
How have I wearied with many a stroke
The stately walnut-tree, the while the rest

Under the tree fell all for nuts at strife ?

For ylike to me was libertee and lyfe.



v
CHILDREN IN PROCESSION

And, them before, the fry of children young
Their wanton sports and childish mirth did

play,

And to the Maidens sounding timbrels sung
In well attuned notes a joyous lay,
And made delightful musick all the way.



SIR PHILIP SIDNEY



CHILD-SONG

Sleepe, babie mine, Desire's nurse, Beautie,

singeth ;

Thy cries, O babie, set mine head on aking.
The babe cries, ' 'Way, thy love doth keepe me

waking.'

Lully, lully, my babe, Hope cradle bringeth
Unto my children alway good rest taking.
The babe cries, ' 'Way, thy love doth keepe me

waking.'
Since, babie mine, from me thy watching

springeth,

Sleepe then, a little ; pap Content is making.
The babe cries, ' Nay, for that abide I waking.'



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD
ANONYMOUS (? XV. CENTURY)

VII

LULLY, LULLAY

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child ;

By, by, lullay, lullay, thou little tiny child

By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too ! how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling, for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay ?

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor child for thee !
And ever morn and day,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.



ROBERT GREENE



SEPHESTIA'S SONG TO HER CHILD

Weep not, my Wanton ! smile upon my knee ;
When thou art old, there's grief enough for thee.

Mother's wag, pretty boy.

Father's sorrow, father's joy !

When thy father first did see

Such a boy by him and me ;

He was glad ; I was woe ;

Fortune changed made him so,

When he left his pretty boy,

Last his sorrow, first his joy.



6 ENGLISH VERSE

Weep not, my Wanton ! smile upon my knee ;
When thou art old, there's griei enough for thee.

Streaming tears that never stint,

Like pearl-drops from a flint,

Fell by course from his eyes,

That one another's place supplies :

Thus he grieved in every part ;

Tears of blood fell from his heart,

When he left his pretty boy,

Father's sorrow, father's joy.

Weep not, my Wanton ! smile upon my knee ;
When thou art old, there's grief enough for thee.

The Wanton smiled ; father wept,

Mother cried, baby leapt ;

More he crowed, more we cried,

Nature sorrow could not hide :

He must go, he must kiss,

Child and mother ; baby bless ;

For he left his pretty boy,

Father's sorrow, father's joy.

Weep not, my Wanton ! smile upon my knee ;
When thou art old, there's grief enough for thee.



ROBERT SOUTHWELL

IX

THE BURNING BABE

As I in hoary winter's night Stood shivering in

the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat, Which made

my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye To view what fire

was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright Did in the

air appear ;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, Such floods

of tears did shed,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 7

As though His floods should quench His flames,
Which with His tears were bred :

' Alas ! ' quoth He, ' but newly born, In fiery
heats I fry,

Yet none approach to warm their hearts Or feel
my fire but I !

'My faultless breast the furnace is ; The fuel,

wounding thorns ;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke ; The ashes

shames and scorns ;
The fuel Justice layeth on, And Mercy blows

the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought Are men's

defiled souls :
For which, as now on fire I am To work them to

their good,
So will I melt into a bath To wash them in my

blood ! '
With this He vanish'd out of sight, And swiftly

shrunk away ;
And straight I called unto mind That it was

Christmas-day.



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE



BOYS' FRIENDSHIP

We were

Two lads that thought there was no more behind,
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.
We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the

sun,

And bleat the one at th' other : what we chang'd,
Was innocence for innocence ; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
That any did. Had we pursu'd that life,



8 ENGLISH VERSE

And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
With stronger blood, we should have answer 'd

heaven

Boldly, ' Not guilty ' ; the imposition clear'd.
Hereditary ours.



XI

GIRLS' FRIENDSHIP

Is all the counsel that we two have shar'd,

The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,

When we have chid the hasty-footed time

For parting us, O ! is it all forgot ?

All school-days' friendship, childhood innocence ?

We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,

Have with our neelds created both one flower,

Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,

Both warbling of one song, both in .one key ;

As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,

Had been incorporate. So we grew together,

Like to a double cherry, seeming parted ;

But yet a union in partition,

Two lovely berries moulded on one stem :

So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart ;

Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,

Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.

. . . We still have slept together,
Rose at an instant, learn'd, play'd, eat together
And wheresoe'er we went, like Juno's swans,
Still we went coupled and inseparable.



XII

THE GRIEF OF ARTHUR'S MOTHER

I am not mad : this hair I tear is mine ;

My name is Constance ; I was Geoffrey's wife

Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost :

I am not mad ; I would to Heaven I were !



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 9

For then 'tis like I should forget myself :
O, if I could, what grief should I forget !
Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
And thou shalt be canoniz'd, cardinal ;
For, being not mad, but sensible of grief,
My reasonable part produces reason
How I may be deliver'd of these woes,
And teaches me to kill or hang myself :
If I were mad, I should forget my son,
Or madly think a babe of clouts were he :
I am not mad : too well, too well I feel
The different plague of each calamity. . . .

And, father cardinal, I have heard you say
That we shall see and know our friends in

Heaven :

If that be true, I shall see my boy again ;
For, since the birth of Cain, the first male

child,

To him that did but yesterday suspire,


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 1 of 20)