L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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There was not such a gracious creature born
But now will canker sorrow eat my bud,
And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
And he will look as hollow as a ghost,
As dim and meagre as an ague's fit ;
And so he'll die ; and, rising so again,
When I shall meet him in the Court of Heaven
I shall not know him : therefore never, never
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more. . . .

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies In his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief. . . .

O Lord ! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son !
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world !
My widow-comfort, and my sorrow's cure !



ENGLISH VERSE



SIR JAMES TYRREL ON THE MURDER
OF THE PRINCES

The tyrannous and bloody act is done ;
The most arch deed of piteous massacre
That ever yet this land was guilty of.
Dighton and Forrest, whom I did suborn
To do this piece of ruthless butchery,
Albeit they were flesh'd villains, bloody dogs,
Melting with tenderness and mild compassion,
Wept like to children in their death's sad story.
' O thus/ quoth Dighton, ' lay the gentle

babes,'
' Thus, thus,' quoth Forrest, ' girdling one

another

Within their alabaster innocent arms ;
Their lips were four red roses on a stalk,
Which in their summer beauty kiss'd each other.
A book of prayers on their pillow lay ;
Which once,' quoth Forrest, ' almost chang'd

my mind ;

But, O, the devil ' there the villain stopp'd ;
When Dighton thus told on, ' we smothered
The most replenished sweet work of nature.
That, from the prime creation, e'er she fram'd.'
Hence both are gone with conscience and remorse
They could not speak ; and so I left them

both.
To bear this tidings to the bloody king.



RICHARD ROWLANDS

XIV

LULLABY

Upon my lap my sovereign sits,
And sucks upon my breast ;



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD n

Meantime his love maintains my life
And gives my sense her rest.
Sing lullaby, my little boy,
Sing lullaby, mine only joy !

When thou hast taken thy repast,

Repose, my babe, on me ;
So may thy mother and thy nurse
Thy cradle also be.

Sing lullaby, my little boy,
Sing lullaby, mine only joy !

I grieve that duty doth not work

All that my wishing would,
Because I would not be to thee
But in the best I should.

Sing lullaby, my little boy,
Sing lullaby, mine only joy !

Yet as I am, and as I may,
I must and will be thine,
Though all too little for thy self
Vouchsafing to be mine.

Sing lullaby, my little boy,
Sing lullaby, mine only joy !



THOMAS DEKKER



Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you,
You are care, and care must keep you.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,



12 ENGLISH VERSE

And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.



THE NATIVITY

Immensity, cloister'd in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-beloved imprisonment.
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough now into our world to come.
But O ! for thee, for Him, hath th' inn no

room ?

Yet lay Him in this stall, and from th' orient,
Stars, and wise men will travel to prevent
The effects of Herod's jealous general doom.
See'st thou, my soul, with thy faith's eye, how

He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth

lie ?

Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee ?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.



EPITAPH ON MISTRESS DOROTHY
DRURY, NIECE OF FRANCIS BACON

She little promised much,

Too soon untied.
She only dreamt she lived,

And then she died.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 13
BEN JONSON

XVIII

LILY OF A DAY

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make Man better be ;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere :
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see ;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

XIX

ON MY FIRST SON

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy ;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy :
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee

pay,

Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I lose all father, now ! for why,
Will man lament the state he should envy ?
To have so soon 'scaped world's, and flesh's rage,
And, if no other misery, yet age !
Rest in soft peace, and ask'd, say here doth lie
BEN JONSON his best piece of poetry :
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

xx

ON MY FIRST DAUGHTER

Here lies, to each her parents ruth,
Mary, the daughter of their youth ;



14 ENGLISH VERSE

Yet all heaven's gifts being heaven's due,

It makes the father less to rue.

At six months' end she parted hence

With safety of her innocence :

Whose soul heaven's Queen, whose name she

bears,

In comfort of her mother's tears,
Hath placed amongst her virgin-train :
Where while that, severed, doth remain,
This grave partakes the fleshly birth ;
Which cover lightly, gentle earth !



RICHARD CORBET



TO VINCENT CORBET, HIS SON

What I shall leave thee, none can tell,

But all shall say I wish thee well :

I wish thee, Vin, before all wealth,

Both bodily and ghostly health ;

Nor too much wealth nor wit come to thee,

So much of either may undo thee.

I wish thee learning not for show,

Enough for to instruct and know ;

Not such as gentlemen require

To prate at table or at fire.

I wish thee all thy mother's graces,

Thy father's fortunes and his places.

I wish thee friends, and one at court,

Not to build on, but support ;

To keep thee not in doing many

Oppressions, but from suffering any.

I wish thee peace in all thy ways,

Nor lazy nor contentious days ;

And, when thy soul and body part,

As innocent as now thou art.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 15
SIR JOHN BEAUMONT

XXII

ON MY DEAR SON, GERVASE

Can I, who have for others oft compiled
The songs of death, forget my sweetest child,
Which, like a flower crushed, with a blast is dead,
And ere full time hangs down his smiling head,
Expecting with clear hope to live anew,
Among the angels fed with heavenly dew ?
We have this sign of joy, that many days,
While on the earth his struggling spirit stays,
The name of Jesus in his mouth contains
His only food, his sleep, his ease from pains.
O may that sound be rooted in my mind,
Of which in him such strong effect I find.
Dear Lord, receive my son, whose winning love
To me was like a friendship, far above
The course of nature, or his tender age ;
Whose looks could all my bitter griefs assuage ;
Let his pure soul ordained seven years to be
In that frail body, which was part of me
Remain my pledge in heaven, as sent to show
How to this port at every step I go.

WILLIAM DRUMMOND OF
HAWTHORNDEN



FOR THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD

The Angels.

Run, Shepherds, run where Bethl'hem blest

appears ;

We bring the best of news, be not dismay'd
A Saviour there is born, more old than years,
Amidst Heaven's rolling heights this earth who

stay'd :



16 ENGLISH VERSE

In a poor cottage inn'd, a Virgin Maid,
A weakling, did Him bear, Who all upbears ;
There is He poorly swaddl'd, in manger laid,
To Whom too narrow swaddlings are our spheres :
Run, Shepherds, run, and solemnize His birth ;
This is that night, no, day grown great with bliss,
In which the power of Satan broken is ;
In Heaven be glory, Peace unto the earth.
Thus singing through the air the Angels swam,
And cope of stars re-echoed the same.

The Shepherds

O, than the fairest day, thrice fairer night !
Night to best days in which a Sun doth rise,
Of which that golden eye, which clears the skies,
Is but a sparkling ray, a shadow light :
And blessed ye in silly pastors' sight
Mild creatures, in whose warm crib now lies
That Heaven-sent Youngling, Holy-Maid-born

Wight,

Midst, end, beginning of our prophecies :
Blest cottage that hath flow'rs in winter spread ;
Though withered, blessed grass, that hath the

grace

To deck and be a carpet to that place.
Thus sang, unto the sounds of oaten reed,
Before the Babe the Shepherds, bowed on knees ;
And springs ran nectar, honey dropped from

trees.

GEORGE WITHER

XXIV

SLEEP, BABY, SLEEP!

Sleep, baby, sleep ! What ails my dear,
What ails my darling thus to cry ?

Be still, my child, and lend thine ear,
To hear m6 sing thy lullaby.

My pretty lamb, forbear to weep ;

Be still, my dear ; sweet baby, sleep.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 17

Thou blessed soul, what canst thou fear ?

What thing to thee can mischief do ?
Thy God is now thy father dear,

His holy Spouse thy mother too.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

Though thy conception was in sin,

A sacred bathing thou hast had ;
And though thy birth unclean hath been,

A blameless babe thou now art made.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my dear ; sweet baby, sleep.

While thus thy lullaby I sing,

For thee great blessings ripening be ;

Thine Elder Brother is a king,

And hath a kingdom bought for thee.

Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;

Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

Sweet baby, sleep, and nothing fear ;

For whosoever thee offends
By thy protector threaten'd are,

And God and angels are thy friends.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

When God with us was dwelling here,

In little babes He took delight ;
Such innocents as thou, my dear,

Are ever precious in His sight. i

Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

A little infant once was He ;

And strength in weakness then was laid
Upon His virgin mother's knee,

That power to thee might be convey'd.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

In this thy frailty and thy need

He friends and helpers doth prepare,



i8 ENGLISH VERSE

Which thee shall cherish, clothe, and feed,

For of thy weal they tender are.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

The King of kings, when He was born,
Had not so much for outward ease ;

By Him such dressings were not worn.
Nor such -like swaddling-clothes as these.

Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;

Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

Within a manger lodged thy Lord,

Where oxen lay and asses fed :
Warm rooms we do to thee afford,

An easy cradle or a bed.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

The wants that He did then sustain

Have purchased wealth, my babe, for thee

And by His torments and His pain
Thy rest and ease secured be.

My baby, then, forbear to weep ;

Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.

Thou hast, yet more, to perfect this,

A promise and an earnest got
Of gaining everlasting bliss,

Though thou, my babe, perceiv'st it not.
Sweet baby, then, forbear to weep ;
' Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep.



WILLIAM BROWNE OF TAVISTOCK

xxv
PLAYING ON THE BEACH

Whoso hath seen young lads (to sport them-
selves)
Run in a low ebb to the sandy shelves ;



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD ig

Where seriously they work in digging wells.
Or building childish sorts of cockle-shells ;
Or liquid water each to other bandy ;
Or with the pebbles play at handy-dandy,
Till unawares the tide hath clos'd them round,
And they must wade it through or else be
drowned.



BOYS HUNTING A SQUIRREL

Then as a nimble squirrel from the wood,
Ranging the hedges for his filberd-food,
Sits peartly on a bough his brown nuts cracking.
And from the shell the sweet white kernel taking,
Till with their crooks and bags a sort of boys,
To share with him, come with so great a noise
That he is forc'd to leave a nut nigh broke,
And for his life leap to a neighbour oak,
Thence to a beech, thence to a row of ashes ;
Whilst through the quagmires, and red water

plashes,

The boys run dabbling thorough thick and thin ;
One tears his hose, another breaks his shin,
This, torn and tatter'd, hath with much ado
Got by the briars ; and that hath lost his shoe ;
This drops his band ; that headlong falls for

haste ;

Another cries behind for being last ;
With sticks and stories and many a sounding

holloa,

The little fool, with no small sport, they follow,
Whilst he, from tree to tree, from spray to spray,
Gets to the wood, and hides him in his dray.



ENGLISH VERSE
ROBERT HERRICK



TO HIS SAVIOUR, A CHILD; A
PRESENT, BY A CHILD

Go prettie child, and beare this Flower
Unto thy little Saviour ;
And tell Him, by that Bud now blown,
He is the Rose of Sharon known ;
When thou hast said so, stick it there
Upon His Bibb, or Stomacher :
And tell Him, (for good handsell too)
That thou hast brought a Whistle new,
Made of a clean straight oaten reed,
To charme His cries, (at time of need :
Tell Him, for Corall, thou hast none ;
But if thou hadst, He sho'd have one ;
But poore thou art, and knowne to be
Even as monilesse, as He.
Lastly, if thou canst win a kisse
From those mellifluous lips of His ;
Then never take a second on,
To spoile the first impression.



XXVIII

GRACE FOR A CHILD

What God gives, and what we take,
'Tis a gift for Christ His sake :
Be the meale of Beanes and Pease,
God be thank'd for those, and these
Have we flesh, or have we fish,
All are Fragments from His dish.
He His Church save, and the King,
And our Peace here, like a Spring,
Make it ever flourishing.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 21

XXIX

ANOTHER GRACE FOR A CHILD

Here a little child I stand,
Heaving up my either hand ;
Cold as Paddocks though they be,
Here I lift them up to Thee,
For a Benizon to fall
On our meat, and on us all.

xxx
UPON A CHILD THAT DYED

Here she lies, a pretty bud,
Lately made of flesh and blood :
Who, as soone, fell fast asleep,
As her little eyes did peep.
Give her strewings ; but not stir
The earth, that lightly covers her.

XXXI

UPON A CHILD : AN EPITAPH

But borne, and like a short Delight,
I glided by my Parents' sight.
That done, the harder Fates deny'd
My longer stay, and so I dy'd.
If pittying my sad Parents' Teares,
You'l spil a tear or two, with theirs :
And with some flow'rs my grave bestrew,
Love and they'l thank you for't. Adieu.



22 ENGLISH VERSE



XXXII

UPON A LADY THAT DYED IN CHILD-
BED, AND LEFT A DAUGHTER
BEHIND HER

As Gilly flowers do but stay

To blow, and seed, and so away ;

So you sweet Lady (sweet as May)

The garden 's-glory liv'd a while,

To lend the world your scent and smile.

But when your own faire print was set

Once in a Virgin Flosculet,

(Sweet as your selfe, and newly blown)

To give that life, resign'd your own :

But so, as still the mother's power

Lives in the pretty Lady-flower.



GEORGE HERBERT

XXXIII



Since, Lord, to Thee
A narrow way and little gate
Is all the passage, on my infancy
Thou didst lay hold, and antedate

My faith in me.

O, let me still

Write Thee ' great God,' and me ' a child ' ;
Let me be soft and supple to Thy will.
Small to myself, to others mild,

Behither ill.

Although by stealth
My flesh get on ; yet let her sister,
My soul, bid nothing but preserve her wealth.
The growth of flesh is but a blister ;

Childhood is health.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 23
THOMAS CAREW



EPITAPH ON THE LADY MARY
VILLIERS

The Lady Mary Villiers lies
Under this stone ; with weeping eyes
The parents that first gave her birth,
And their sad friends, laid her in earth.
If any of them, Reader, were
Known unto thee, shed a tear ;
Or if thyself possess a gem
As dear to thee, as this to them,
Though a stranger to this place,
Bewail in theirs thine own hard case :
For thou perhaps at thy return
May'st find thy Darling in an urn.



XXXV

ANOTHER

The purest soul, that e'er was sent
Into a clayey tenement,
Inform'd this dust ; but the weak mould
Could the great guest no longer hold :
The substance was too pure, the flame
Too glorious, that thither came.
Ten thousand Cupids brought along
A grace on each wing, that did throng
For place there, till they all oppress'd
The seat in which they sought to rest :
So the fair model broke, for want
Of room to lodge th' inhabitant.



24 ENGLISH VERSE

XXXVI

ANOTHER

This little vault, this narrow room,
Of Love and Beauty is the tomb ;
The dawning beam, that 'gan to clear
Our clouded sky, lies darken'd here,
For ever set to us : by Death
Sent to enflame the World Beneath.
'Twas but a bud, yet did contain
More sweetness than shall spring again ;
A budding star, that might have grown
Into a Sun when it had blown.
This hopeful Beauty did create
New life in Love's declining state ;
But now his empire ends, and we
From fire and wounding darts are free ;
His brand, his bow, let no man fear :
The flames, the arrows, all lie here.



WILLIAM STRODE

XXXVII

THE LATEST LULLABY
(To Mistress Mary Prideaux)

Sleep, pretty one, O sleep, while I
Sing thee thy latest lullaby :
And may my song be but as she ;
Ne'er was sweeter harmony.
Thou wert all music : all thy limbs
Were but so many well-set hymns
To praise thy Maker. In thy brow
I read thy soul, and know not how
To tell which whiter was or smoother,
Or more spotless, one or th' other.
No jar, no harshness in thee : all
Thy passions were at peace : no gall,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 25

No rough behaviour ; but even such
In disposition as in touch.

Yet Heaven, poor soul, was harsh to thee :

Death used thee not half orderly.

If thou must needs go, must thy way

Needs be by torture ? Must thy day

End in the morning ? And thy night

Come with such horror and affright ?

Death might have seiz'd thee gentlier, and

Embrac'd thee with a softer hand.

Thou wert not sure so loath to go,

That thou needst be dragged so ;

For thou wert all obedience, and hadst wit

To do Heaven's will and not dispute with it.

Yet 'twere a hard heart, a dead eye,

That sighless, tearless, could stand by ;

While thy poor mother felt each groan

As much as e'er she did her own

When she groan'd for thee : and thy cries

Marr'd not our ears more than her eyes.

Yet if thou took'st some truce with pain,

Then was she melted more again

To hear thy sweet words, whilst thy breath

Faintly did strive to sweeten Death,

Call'dst for the music of thy knell,

And cri'dst, 'twas it must make thee well :

Thus whilst your prayers were -at strife,

Thine for thy death, hers for thy life,

Thine did prevail, and, on their wings,

Mounted thy soul where now it sings,

And never shall complain no more,

But for not being there before.

Let her parents then confess
That they believe her happiness,
Which now they Question. Think as you
Lent her the world, Heaven lent her you :
And is it just, then, to complain
When each hath but his own again ?
Then, think what both your glories are
In her preferment : for 'tis far



26 ENGLISH VERSE

Nobler to get a saint, and bear
A child to Heaven than an heir
To a large empire. Think beside
She died not young, but liv'd a bride.
Your best wishes for her good
Were but to see her well bestow'd :
Was she not so ? She married to
The Heir of all things, who did owe
Her infant soul, and bought it too.
Nor was she barren : mark'd you not
Those pretty little Graces, that
Play'd round about her sick-bed ; three,
Th" eld'st Faith, Hope and Charity ?
'Twere pretty big ones, and the same
That cried so on their Father's Name.
The young'st is gone with her : the two
Eldest stay to comfort you ;
And little though they be, they can
Master the biggest foes of man.

Lastly think that her abode
With you was some few years' board ;
After, her marriage : now she's gone
Home, royally attended on :
And if you had Elisha's sight
To see the number of her bright
Attendants thither ; or Paul's rapt sprite
To see her welcome there ; why, then,
Wish, if you could, her here again.
I'm sure you could not : but all passion
Would lose itself in admiration,
And strong longings to be there,
Where, 'cause she is, you mourn for her.



ANONYMOUS (XVII CENTURY)

XXXVIII 1

THE CHILD'S DEATH

He did but float a little way
Adown the stream of time ;



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 27

With dreamy eyes watching the ripples play,
Or listening to their chime.
His slender sail
Scarce felt the gale ;
He did but float a little way,

And, putting to the shore,
While yet 'twas early day.
Went calmly on his way,

To dwell with us no more.
No jarring did he feel,
No grating on his vessel's keel ;
A strip of yellow sand
Mingled the waters with the land,
Where he was seen no more ;
O stern word, Nevermore !
Full short his journey was ; no dust

Of earth unto his sandals clave ;
The weary weight, that old men must,

He bore not to the grave.
He seem'd a cherub who had lost his way
And wander 'd hither ; so his stay
With us was short ; and 'twas most meet

That he should be no delver in earth's clod,
Nor need to pause and cleanse his feet

To stand before his God.



UPON ANNE WORLEY, AGED EIGHT
YEARS, WHO DIED yd SEPTEMBER

1653

In quiet sleepe here lyes the deare remayne
Of a sweet Babe, the Father's joye and payne :
A prytty Infant, loved and lovinge, she
Was bewtye's Abstract ; love's Epitome :
A lytle Volume, but devine, whearein
Was seen both Paradice and Cherubin.
While she lived here, which was but lytle space,
A few short yeares, earth had a Heavenly face ;



28 ENGLISH VERSE

And dead she lookt a lovely peice of claye
After her shineinge soule was fled awaye.
Reader, had'st thou her dissolution seen
Thou would'st have weept had'st thou this
Marble been.

From a brass in the Chancel of Reigate Parish Church.



XL

CHRISTMAS CAROL

God bless the master of this house,

The mistress also,
And all the little children,

That round the table go,
And all your kin and kinsmen,

That dwell both far and near,
I wish you a merry Christmas

And a happy New Year.



EDMUND WALLER



TO THE YOUNGER LADY LUCY
SYDNEY

Why came I so untimely forth
Into a world which, wanting thee,

Could entertain us with no worth,
Or shadow of felicity ?

That time should me so far remove

From that which I was born to love.

Yet, fairest Blossom ! do not slight

That eye which you may know so soon

The rosy morn resigns her light
And milder splendours to the noon

If such thy dawning beauty's power

Who shall abide its noon-tide hour ?



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 20

Hope waits upon the flowery prime ;

And summer though it be less gay,
Yet is not looked on as a time

Of declination or decay ;
For with a full hand she doth bring
All that was promised by the spring.



JOHN MILTON



O fairest flow'r, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly.
Summer's chief honour, if thou had'st outlasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry ;
For he being amorous on that lovely dye

That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss
But kill'd, alas, and then bewail'd his fatal bliss. . .

Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb ;
Could Heav'n for pity thee so strictly doom ?
Oh no ! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that shew'd thou wast divine.

Resolve me then, O Soul most surely blest,
(If so be it that thou these plaints dost hear)
Tell me, bright Spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields (if such there were),
O say me true if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy
flight.

Wert thou some star which from the ruin'd roof
Of shak't Olympus by mischance didst fall ;



30 ENGLISH VERSE

Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall ?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall

Of sheeny Heav'n, and thou some goddess fled
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd
head ?

Or wert thou that just maid who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,
And cam'st again to visit us once more ?
Or wert thou [Mercy], that sweet-smiling youth ?
Or that crown'd matron, sage white-robed Truth ?

Or any other of that heav'nly brood
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some
good ?

Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,


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Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 2 of 20)