L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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And after short abode fly back with speed ;
As if to show what creatures Heav'n doth breed ;

Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto Heav'n
aspire ?

But oh, why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy Heav'n-lov'd innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our

foe,

To turn swift-rushing black perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,

To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart ?
But thou canst best perform that office where
thou art.

Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false imagin'd loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild ;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render Him with patience what He lent ;

This if thou do, He will an offspring give,
That till the world's last end shall make thy
name to live.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 31
RICHARD CRASHAW



A HYMN OF THE NATIVITY, SUNG
BY THE SHEPHERDS

Come, we shepherds, whose blest sight
Hath met Love's noon in Nature's night :
Come lift we up our loftier song,
And wake the sun that lies too long.

Gloomy night embraced the place

Where the noble Infant lay :
The Babe looked up, and shewed His face ;

In spite of darkness it was day :
It was Thy day, sweet, and did rise,
Not from the East, but from Thine eyes.

We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
Young dawn of our eternal day ;

We saw Thine eyes break from the East,
And chase the trembling shades away :

We saw Thee, and we blest the sight,

We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

Poor world, said I, what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry stranger ?

Is this the best thou canst bestow
A cold and not too cleanly manger ?

Contend, the powers of heaven and earth,

To fit a bed for this huge birth.

Proud world, said I, cease your contest,
And let the mighty Babe alone ;

The phoenix builds the phoenix' nest,
Love's architecture is His own.

The Babe, whose birth embraves this morn,

Made His own bed ere He was born.

I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow,
Come hovering o'er the place's head,



32 ENGLISH VERSE

Off'ring their whitest sheets of snow,

To furnish the fair Infant's bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold ;
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.

I saw th' obsequious seraphim

Their rosy fleece of fire bestow.
For well they now can spare their wings,

Since Heaven itself lies here below.
Well done, said I ; but are you sure
Your down, so warm, will pass for pure ?

No, no, your King's not yet to seek
Where to repose His royal head ;

See, see how soon His new-bloom'd cheek
"Twixt mother's breasts is gone to bed !

Sweet choice, said we ; no way but so

Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow !

Welcome, all wonders in one sight !

Eternity shut in a span !
Summer in winter ! Day in night !

Heaven in earth ! and God in man !
Great Little One, Whose all embracing birth
Lifts earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to earth.

Welcome, tho' nor to gold, nor silk,
To more than Caesar's birthright is,

Two sister-seas of Virgin-milk,

With many a rarely-temper'd kiss,

That breathes at once both Maid and Mother,

Warms in the one, cools in the other.

She sings Thy tears asleep, and dips
Her kisses in Thy weeping eye ;

She spreads the red leaves of Thy lips,
That in their buds yet blushing lie.

She 'gainst those mother diamonds tries

The points of her young eagle's eyes.

Welcome -tho' not to those gay flies,
Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 33

Slippery souls in smiling eyes

But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealth's their flocks, whose wit's to be
Well read in their simplicity.

Yet, when young April's husband show'rs
Shall bless the fruitful Maia's bed,

We'll bring the first-born of her flowers,
To kiss Thy feet and crown Thy head.

To Thee, dread Lamb, whose love must keep

The shepherds while they feed their sheep.

To Thee, meek Majesty, soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves !

Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves !

At last, in fire of Thy fair eyes,

Ourselves become our own best sacrifice !



XLIV

FIRST LINES OF A HYMN TO THE NAME
AND HONOUR OF THE ADMIRABLE
SAINT TERESA, WHO, YET A CHILD,
OUTRAN MATURITY, AND DURST
PLOT A MARTYRDOM.

Love, thou art absolute, sole Lord

Of life and death. To prove the word,

We'll now appeal to none of all

Those Thy old soldiers, great and tall,

Ripe men of martyrdom, that could reach down

With strong arms their triumphant crown :

Such as could with lusty breath

Speak loud, unto the face of death,

Their great Lord's glorious name ; to none

Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne

For love at large to fill. Spare blood and sweat :

We'll see Him take a private seat,

And make His mansion in the mild

And milky soul of a sofjb child.



34 ENGLISH VERSE

Scarce has she learnt to lisp the name

Of martyr ; yet she thinks it shame

Life should so long play with that breath

Which spent can buy so brave a death.

She never undertook to know

What death with love should have to do.

Nor has she e'er yet understood

Why, to show love, she should shed blood ;

Yet, though she cannot tell you why,

She can love and she can die.

Scarce has she blood enough to make
A guilty sword blush for her sake ;
Yet has a heart dares hope to prove
How much less strong is death than love.

Be love but there ; let poor six years
Be 'pos'd with the maturest fears
Man trembles at, you straight shall find
Love knows no nonage, nor the mind.
"Tis love, not years or limbs that can
Make the martyr, or the man.

Love touch'd her heart, and lo it beats
High, and burns with such brave heats ;
Such thirsts to die, as dares drink up
A thousand cold deaths in one cup.
Good reason. For she breathes all fire.
Her weak breast heaves with strong desire
Of what she may with fruitless wishes
Seek for amongst her Mother's kisses.

Since 'tis not to be had at home
She'll travel to a martyrdom.
No home for her, confesses she,
But where she may a martyr be.

She'll to the Moors ; and trade with them

For this unvalued diadem.

She'll offer them her dearest breath,

With Christ's name in 't, in change for death.

She'll bargain with them ; and will give

Them God ; teach them how to live



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 35

In Him : or, if they this deny,
For Him she'll teach them how to die.
So shall she leave amongst them sown
Her Lord's blood ; or at least her own.

Farewell then, all the world ! Adieu !
Teresa is no more for you.
Farewell, all pleasures, sports, and joys
(Never till now esteemed toys) ;
Farewell, whatever dear may be,
Mother's arms or father's knee !
Farewell house, and farewell home !
She's for the Moors, and martyrdom.

Sweet, not so fast ! lo, thy fair spouse,
Whom thou seek'st with so swift vows,
Calls thee back, and bids thee come
T* embrace a milder martyrdom.

Blest Powers forbid thy tender life
Should bleed upon a barbarous knife ;
Or some base hand have power to raze
Thy breast's chaste cabinet, and uncase
A soul kept there so sweet : O no,
Wise Heav'n will never have it so. ...



ANDREW MARVELL



THE PICTURE OF LITTLE T. C. IN
A PROSPECT OF FLOWERS

See with what simplicity
This nymph begins her golden days !
In the green grass she loves to lie,
And there with her fair aspect tames
The wilder flowers and gives them names ;
But only with the roses plays,

And them does tell
What colour best becomes them, and what smell.



36 ENGLISH VERSE

Who can foretell for what high cause
This darling of the gods was born ?
Yet this is she whose chaster laws
The wanton Love shall one day fear,
And, under her command severe,
See his bow broke and ensigns torn.

Happy who can
Appease this virtuous enemy of man !

O then let me in time compound
And parley with those conquering eyes.

Ere they have tried their force to wound ;
Ere with their glancing wheels they drive
In triumph over hearts that strive,

And them that yield but more despise :

Let me be laid,
Where I may see the glories from some shade.

Meantime, whilst every verdant thing
Itself does at thy beauty charm,

Reform the errors of the Spring ;
Make that the tulips may have share
Of sw.eetness, seeing they are fair,
And roses of their thorns disarm ;

But most procure
That violets may a longer age endure.

But O, young beauty of the woods,
Whom Nature courts with fruits and flowers,

Gather the flowers, but spare the buds ;
Lest Flora, angry at thy crime
To kill her infants in their prime,

Do quickly make th' example yours ;

And ere we see,
Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 37
HENRY VAUGHAN

XL VI

THE RETREAT

Happy those early days, when I

Shined in my angel-infancy !

Before I understood this place

Appointed for my second race,

Or taught my soul to fancy aught

But a white, celestial thought ;

When yet I had not walked above

A mile or two from my first love,

And looking back at that short space

Could see a glimpse of His bright face ;

When on some gilded cloud, or flower,

My gazing soul would dwell an hour,

And in those weaker glories spy

Some shadows of eternity ;

Before I taught my tongue to wound

My conscience with a sinful sound,

Or had the black art to dispense

A several sin to every sense,

But felt through all this fleshly dress

Bright shoots of everlastingness.

O how I long to travel back,
And tread again that ancient track !
That I might once more reach that plain,
Where first I left my glorious train ;
From whence the enlightened spirit sees
That shady city of palm-trees.
But ah ! my soul with too much stay
Is drunk, and staggers in the way !
Some men a forward motion love,
But I by backward steps would move,
And, when this dust falls to the urn,
In that state I came, return.



3 8 ENGLISH VERSE



CHILDHOOD

I cannot reach it ; and my striving eye
Dazzles at it, as at eternity.

Were now that chronicle alive,
Those white designs which children drive,
And the thoughts of each harmless hour,
With their content, too, in my power,
Quickly would I make my path even,
And by mere playing go to heaven.

Why should men love
A wolf, more than a lamb or dove ?
Or choose hell-fire and brimstone streams
Before bright stars and God's own beams ?
Who kisseth thorns will hurt his face,
But flowers do both refresh and grace,
And sweetly living fie on men !
Are, when dead, medicinal then ;
If seeing much should make staid eyes,
And long experience should nake wise,
Since all that age doth teach is ill,
Why should I not love childhood still ?
Why, if I see a rock or shelf,
Shall I from thence cast down myself ?
Or, by complying with the world,
From the same precipice be hurled ?
Those observations are but foul,
Which make me wise to lose my soul.
And yet the practice worldlings call
Business, and weighty action all,
Checking the poor child for his play,
But gravely cast themselves away.

Dear, harmless age ! the short, swift span
Where weeping virtue parts with man ;
Where love without lust dwells, and bends
What way we please without self-ends.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 39

An age of mysteries ! which he
Must live twice that would God's face see ;
Which angels guard, and with it play
Angels ! which foul men drive away.

How do I study now, and scan
Thee more than e'er I studied man,
And only see through a long night
Thy edges and thy bordering light !
O for thy centre and mid-day !
For sure that is the narrow way !



XLVIII
THE BURIAL OF AN INFANT

Blest infant bud, whose blossom-life
Did only look about, and fall
Wearied out in a harmless strife
Of tears, and milk, the food of all ;

Sweetly didst thou expire : thy soul
Flew home unstain'd by his new kin ;
For ere thou knew'st how to be foul,
Death wean'd thee from the world, and sin.

Softly rest all thy virgin-crumbs

Lapt in the sweets of thy young breath,

Expecting till thy Saviour comes

To dress them, and unswaddle death !



JOHN DRYDEN

XLIX

ON JAMES II. 'S INFANT SON

. . . 'Tis Paradise to look
On the fair frontispiece of Nature's book.
If the first opening page so charms the sight,
Think how th' unfolded volume will delight !



4 a ENGLISH VERSE

See how the venerable infant lies

In early pomp ; how through the mother's

eyes

The father's soul with an undaunted view
Looks out, and takers our homage as his due.
See on his future subjects how he smiles,
Nor meanly flatters nor with craft beguiles ;
But with an open face, as on his throne,
Assures our birthrights and assumes his own. .



ON THE DEATH OF A VERY YOUNG

GENTLEMAN

He who could view the book of destiny,
And read whatever there was writ of thee,
O charming youth, in the first opening page,
So many graces in so green an age, . . .
Would wonder, when he turned the volume

o'er,

And after some few leaves should find no more,
Nought but a blank remain, a dead void space,
A step of life that promised such a race.
We must not, dare not think, that Heaven began
A child, and could not finish him a man ; . . .

Thus then he disappeared, was rarified,
For 'tis improper speech to say he died :
He was exhaled ; his great Creator drew
His spirit, as the sun the morning dew.
'Tis sin produces death ; and he had none,
'But the taint Adam left on every son.
He added not, he was so pure, so good,
'Twas but th* original forfeit of his blood ;
And that so little, that the river ran
More clear than the corrupted fount began. . . .



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 41
THOMAS TRAHERNE

LI

THE SALUTATION

These little limbs,

These eyes and hands which here I find,
These rosy cheeks wherewith my life begins,

Wheie have ye been ? behind
What curtain were ye from me hid so long,
Where was, in what abyss, my speaking tongue ?

When silent I
So many thousand, thousand years

Beneath the dust did in a chaos lie,
How could I smiles or tears,

Or lips or hands or eyes or ears perceive ?

Welcome, ye treasures which I now receive.

I that so long

Was nothing from eternity,
Did little think such joys as ear or tongue

To celebrate or see :
Such sounds to hear, such hands to feel, such

feet,
Beneath the skies on such a ground to meet.

New burnish' d joys !

Which yellow gold and pearls excel !
Such sacred treasures are the limbs in boys,

In which a soul doth dwell ;
Their organised joints and azure veins
More wealth include than all the world contains.

From dust I rise,
And out of nothing now awake,
These brighter regions which salute mine eyes,

A gift from God I take.
The earth, the seas, the light, the day, the

skies,
The sun and stars are mine ; if those I prize.



42 ENGLISH VERSE

Long time before

I in my mother's womb was born,
A God preparing did this glorious store,

The world, for me adorn.
Into this Eden so divine and fair,
So wide and bright, I come His son and heir.

A stranger here

Strange things doth meet, strange glories see ;
Strange treasures lodg'd in this fair world appear,

Strange all and new to me ;

But that they mine should be, who nothing was,
That strangest is of all, yet brought to pass.



LII

WONDER

How like an Angel came I down !

How bright are all things here !
When first among His works I did appear

how their Glory me did crown !
The world resembled His Eternity,

In which my soul did walk ;
And every thing that I did see
Did with me talk.

The skies in their magnificence,

The lively, lovely air ;
Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair !

The stars did entertain my sense,
And all the works of God, so bright and pure

So rich and great did seem,
As if they ever must endure
In my esteem.

A native health and innocence

Within my bones did grow,
And while my God did all his Glories show,

1 felt a vigour in my sense

That was all Spirit. I within did flow
With seas of life, like wine ;



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 43

I nothing in the world did know
But 'twas divine.

Harsh ragged objects were concealed,

Oppressions, tears and cries,
Sins, griefs, complaints, dissensions, weeping eyes

Were hid, and only things revealed
Which heavenly Spirits and the Angels prize.

The state of Innocence
And bliss, not trades and poverties,
Did fill my sense.

The streets were paved with golden stones,

The boys and girls were mine,
Oh how did all their lovely faces shine !

The sons of men were holy ones,
In joy and beauty they appeared to me,

And every thing which here I found,
While like an Angel I did see,
Adorned the ground.

Rich diamond and pearl and gold

In every place was seen ;
Rare splendours, yellow, blue, red, white, and

green,

Mine eyes did everywhere behold.
Great wonders clothed with glory did appear,

Amazement was my bliss,
That and my wealth was everywhere ;
No joy to this !

Cursed and devised proprieties,

With envy, avarice
And fraud, those fiends that spoil even Paradise,

Flew from the splendour of mine eyes,
And so did hedges, ditches, limits, bounds,

I dreamed not aught of those,
But wandered over all men's grounds,
And found repose.

Proprieties themselves were mine
And hedges ornaments,



44 ENGLISH VERSE

Walls, boxes, coffers, and their rich contents

Did not divide my joys, but all combine.
Clothes, ribbons, jewels, laces, I esteemed

My joys by others worn :
For me they all to wear them seemed
When I was born.



LIII
INNOCENCE

But that which most I wonder at, which most
I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,
And ever shall enjoy, is that within
I felt no stain nor spot of sin.

No darkness then did overshade,
But all within was pure and bright,
No guilt did crush nor fear invade,
But all my soul was full of light.

A joyful sense and purity

Is all I can remember,
The very night to me was bright,
'Twas Summer in December.

A serious meditation did employ
My soul within, which taken up with joy
Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly
All objects that do feed the eye,

While it those very objects did
Admire and prize and praise and love,
Which in their glory most are hid,
Which presence only doth remove.

Their constant daily presence I

Rejoicing at, did see,
And that which takes them from the eye
Of others offered them to me.

No inward inclination did I feel

To avarice or pride ; my soul did kneel



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 45

In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,
Polluted then my infant life.

No fraud nor anger in me mov'd,
No malice, jealousy, or spite ;
All that I saw I truly lov'd :
Contentment only and delight

Were in my soul. O Heav'n ! what bliss

Did I enjoy and feel !
What powerful delight did this
Inspire ! for this I daily kneel.

Whether it be that Nature is so pure,
And custom only vicious ; or that sure
God did by miracle the guilt remove,
And made my soul to feel his Love

So early : or that 'twas one day,
Wherein this happiness I found,
Whose strength and brightness so do ray,
That still it seems me to surround,

Whate'er it is, it is a Light

So endless unto me
That I a world of true delight
Did then, and to this day do see.

That prospect was the gate of Heaven, that day
The ancient Light of Eden did convey
Into my soul : I was an Adam there,
A little Adam in a sphere

Of joys ! O there my ravisht sense
Was entertained in Paradise,
And had a sight of Innocence,
Which was beyond all bound and price.

An antepast of Heaven sure !

I on the earth did reign,
Within, without me, all was pure :
I must become a child again.



46 ENGLISH VERSE



LIV

THE RAPTURE

Sweet Infancy !
O fire of heaven ! O sacred Light !

How fair and bright !

How great am I,
Whom all the world doth magnify !

O Heavenly joy !
O great and sacred blessedness

Which I possess !

So great a joy
Who did into my arms convoy ?

From God above
Being sent, the Heavens me enflame :

To praise His Name

The stars do move !
The burning sun doth shew His love.

O how divine
Am I ! To all this sacred wealth,

This life and health,

Who raised ? Who mine
Did make the same ? What hand divine ?



SIR CHARLES SEDLEY

LV

CHILD AND MAIDEN

Ah, Chloris ! could I now but sit
As unconcern'd as when

Your infant beauty could beget
No happiness or pain !

When I the dawn used to admire,
And praised the coming day,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 47

I little thought the rising fire
Would take my rest away.

Your charms in harmless childhood lay

Like metals in a mine ;
Age from no face takes more away

Than youth conceal'd in thine.
But as your charms insensibly

To their perfection prest,
So love as unperceived did fly,

And center 'd in my breast.

My passion with your beauty grew,

While Cupid at my heart
Still as his mother favour'd you

Threw a new flaming dart :
Each gloried in their wanton part ;

To make a lover, he
Employ'd the utmost of his art

To make a beauty, she.



JOHN NORRIS

LVI

TO A CHILD IN HEAVEN

I care not, though it be
By the preciser sort thought Popery ;

We poets can a licence show

For everything we do :
Hear then, my little saint, I'll pray to thee.

If now thy happy mind
Amidst its various joys can leisure find

T' attend to anything so low

As what I say or do,
Regard, and be what thou wast ever kind.

Let not the blest above
Engross thee quite, but sometimes hither rove



48 ENGLISH VERSE

Fain would I thy sweet image see,

And sit and talk with thee ;
Nor is it curiosity, but love.

Ah, what delight 'twould be
Wouldst thou sometimes by stealth converse

with me !
How should I thy sweet commerce prize,

And other joys despise !
Come, then I ne'er was yet denied by thee.

I would not long detain
Thy soul from bliss, nor keep thee here in pain ;

Nor should thy fellow-saints e'er know

Of thy escape below :
Before thou'rt missed, thou shouldst return again.

Sure, Heaven must needs thy love
As well as other qualities improve !

Come then, and recreate my sight

With rays of thy pure light :
'Twill cheer my eyes more than the lamps above.

But if Fate's so severe
As to confine thee to thy blissful sphere,

(And by thy absence I shall know

Whether thy state be so),
Live happy : but be mindful of me there.



MATTHEW PRIOR

LVII

TO A CHILD OF QUALITY, FIVE
YEARS OLD

Lords, knights and squires, the numerous band
That wear the fair Miss Mary's fetters,

Were summoned by her high command
To show their passions by their letters.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 49

My pen amongst the rest I took,

Lest those bright eyes, that cannot read,

Should dart their kindling fires, and look
The power they have to be obeyed.

Nor quality, nor reputation,

Forbids me yet my flame to tell ;
Dear Five-years-old befriends my passion,

And I may write till she can spell.

For while she makes her silkworms' beds
With all the tender things I swear ;

Whilst all the house my passion reads
In papers round her baby's hair ;

She may receive and own my flame ;

For, though the strictest prudes should know it.
She'll pass for a most virtuous dame.

And I for an unhappy poet.

Then too, alas ! when she shall tear
The lines some younger rival sends ;

She'll give me leave to write, I fear,
Arid we shall still continue friends.

For, as our different ages move,

'Tis so ordained (would Fate but mend it !)
That I shall be past making love,

When she begins to comprehend it.



AMBROSE PHILIPS

LVIII

TO CHARLOTTE PULTENEY

Timely blossom, Infant fair,
Fondling of a happy pair,
Every morn and every night
Their solicitous delight,
Sleeping, waking, still at ease,
Pleasing, without skill to please ;



ENGLISH VERSE

Little gossip, blithe and hale,
Tattling many a broken tale,
Singing many a tuneless song,
Lavish of a heedless tongue ;
Simple maiden, void of art,
Babbling out the very heart,
Yet abandoned to thy will,
Yet imagining no ill,
Yet too innocent to blush ;
Like the linnet in the bush
To the mother-linnet's note
Moduling her slender throat ;
Chirping forth thy petty joys,
Wanton in the change of toys,
Like the linnet green, in May .
Flitting to each bloomy spray ;
Wearied then and glad of rest,
Like the linnet in the nest :
This thy present happy lot,
This, in time will be forgot :
Other pleasures, other cares,
Ever-busy Time prepares ;
And thou shalt in thy daughter see,
This picture, once, resembled thee.



COLLEY GIBBER

LIX

THE BLIND BOY

Oh, say what is that thing called light

Which I can ne'er enjoy ?
What is the blessing of the sight ?

Oh, tell your poor blind boy.

You talk of wondrous things you see,
You say ' The sun shines bright.'

I feel him warm ; but how can he
Or make it day or night ?



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 51


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