L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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My day or night myself I make

Whene'er I sleep or play ;
And could I ever keep awake

It would be always day.

With heavy sighs I often hear

You mourn my hopeless woe :
But sure with patience I may bear

A loss I ne'er can know.

Then let not what I cannot have

My cheer of mind destroy :
While thus I sing, I am a king,

Although a poor blind boy !



ISAAC WATTS



A CRADLE HYMN

Hush ! my dear, lie still and slumber,
Holy angels guard thy bed !

Heavenly blessings without number
Gently falling on thy head.

Sleep, my babe ; thy food and raiment,
House and home, thy friends provide

All without thy care or payment :
All thy wants are well supplied.

How much better thou'rt attended
Than the Son of God could be.

When from Heaven He descended
And became a child like thee !

Soft and easy is thy cradle :

Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,

When His birthplace was a stable
And His softest bed was hay. . . .

See the kinder shepherds round Him,
Telling wonders from the sky !



52 ENGLISH VERSE

Where they sought Him, there they found

Him,
With His Virgin-Mother by.

See- the lovely Babe a-dressing ;

Lovely infant, how He smiled !
When He wept, the Mother's blessing

Soothed and hushed the holy Child.

Lo, He slumbers in His manger,

Where the horned oxen fed ; '
Peace, my darling ; here's no danger ;

Here's no ox anear thy bed !

'Twas to save thee, child, from dying,
Save my dear from burning flame,

Bitter groans and endless crying,
That thy blest Redeemer came.

May'st thou live to know and fear Him,
Trust and love Him all thy days ;

Then go dwell for ever near Him,
See His face, and sing His praise !

I could give thee thousand kisses,

Hoping what I most desire ;
Not a mother's fondest wishes

Can to greater joys aspire.



JOHN BYROM



A CHRISTMAS CAROL

(Composed in 1745 as a carol for his little daughter
Dolly, 'for her and for no one else.')

Christians awake ! salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born.
Rise to adore the mystery of love,
Which hosts of angels chanted from above
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God Incarnate and the Virgin's Son.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 53

Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard the angelic herald's voice, ' Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Saviour's birth
To you and all the nations upon earth :
This day hath God fulfilled His promised Word,
This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord.
In David's city, shepherds, ye shall find
The long foretold Redeemer of mankind.
Wrapt up in swaddling clothes the Babe Divine
Lies in a manger, this shall be the sign.'
He spake, and straightway the celestial choir,
In hymns of joy unknown before, conspire ;
The praises of redeeming love they sung,
And Heaven's whole orb with Hallelujahs rung :
' God's Highest Glory ' was their anthem still,
' Peace upon earth and mutual good will.'
To Bethlehem straight the enlighten'd shepherds

ran

To see the wonder God had wrought for man,
And found with Joseph and the blessed Maid
Her Son, the Saviour, in a manger laid.
Amaz'd, the wondrous story they proclaim,
The first apostles of His infant fame ;
While Mary keeps, and ponders in her heart
The heav'nly vision which the swains impart.
They to their flocks, still praising God, return.
And their glad hearts within their bosoms burn.

Let us, like these good shepherds, then employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy :
Like Mary, let us ponder in our mind
God's wondrous love in saving lost mankind ;
Artless and watchful, as these favoured swains,
While virgin meekness in the heart remains,
Trace we the Babe, who has retrieved our loss,
From His poor manger to His bitter Cross,
Treading His steps, assisted by His grace,
Till man's first heavenly state again takes

place.

Then may we hope, th' Angelic thrones among,
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphant song.



54 ENGLISH VERSE

He that was born upon this joyful day,
Around us all His glory shall display.
Saved by His love, incessant we shall sing
Of angels, and of angel-men, the King.



CHARLES WESLEY

LXII

FOR A CHILD

Lamb of God, I look to Thee ;
Thou shalt my example be ;
Thou art gentle, meek, and mild ;
Thou wast once a little child.

Thou didst live to God alone ;
Thou didst never seek Thine own ;
Thou Thyself didst never please ;
God was all Thy happiness.

Loving Jesu, gentle Lamb,
In Thy gracious hands I am ;
Make me, Saviour, what Thou art !
Live Thyself within my heart !

I shall then show forth Thy praise ;
Serve Thee all my happy days ;
Then the world shall always see
Christ, the Holy Child, in me.



WILLIAM WHITEHEAD

LXIII

THE FOURTH BIRTHDAY

Old creeping time, with silent tread,
Has stol'n four years o'er Molly's head
The rosebud opens on her cheek,
The meaning eyes begin to speak ;



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 55

And in each smiling look is seen
The innocence which plays within.
Nor is the faltering tongue confined
To lisp the dawning of the mind,
But firm and full her words convey
The little all they have to say.



THOMAS GRAY



ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF
ETON COLLEGE

Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the wat'ry glade,
Where grateful Science still adores

Her Henry's holy shade ;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below

Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along

His silver-winding way :

Ah happy hills ! ah pleasing shade !

Ah fields beloved in vain !
Where once my careless childhood strayed,

A stranger yet to pain !
I feel the gales, that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,

As waving fresh their gladsome wing
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,

To breathe a second spring.

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green

The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave



56 ENGLISH VERSE

With pliant arm thy glassy wave ?

The captive linnet which enthrall ?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball ?

While some on earnest business bent

Their murmuring labours ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint

To sweeten liberty ;
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,

And unknown regions dare descry :
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,

And snatch a fearful joy.

Gay Hope is theirs by fancy fed,

Less pleasing when possest ;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast ;
Theirs buxom Health, of rosy hue,
Wild Wit, Invention ever- new,

And lively Cheer, of Vigour born ;
The thoughtless day, the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light,

That fly th' approach of morn.

Alas, regardless of their doom,

The little victims play !
No sense have they of ills to come,

Nor care beyond to-day ; . . .

Yet ah ! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies ?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more ; where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 57

LXV

EPITAPH ON A CHILD

Here freed from pain, secure from misery, lies
A Child, the darling of his parents' eyes ;
A gentler lamb ne'er sported on the plain,
A fairer flower will never bloom again !
Few were the days allotted to his breath ;
Here let him sleep in peace his night of death.

WILLIAM COWPER



ON THE RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S
PICTURE OUT OF NORFOLK

My mother ! when I learn'd that thou wast

dead,

Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ?
Hover'd thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ?
Perhaps thou gav'st me, though unseen, a kiss ;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss
Ah, that maternal smile ! it answers Yes.
I heard the bell toll'd on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse, that bore thee slow away,
And, turning from my nurs'ry window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu !
But was it such ? It was -Where thou art gone
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown.
May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore,
The parting word shall pass my lips no more !
Thy maidens, griev'd themselves at my concern.
Oft gave me promise of thy quick return.
What ardently I wish'd, I long believ'd,
And, disappointed still, was still deceiv'd.
By expectation every day beguil'd,
Du,pe of to-morrow even from a child.



58 ENGLISH VERSE

Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learn'd at last submission to my lot,
But, though I less deplor'd thee, ne'er forgot.

Where once we dwelt our name is heard no

more,

Children not thine have trod my nursery floor ;
And where the gardener Robin, day by day,
Drew me to school along the public way,
Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapp'd
In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet cap,
'Tis now become a history little known,
That once we call'd the pastoral house our own.
Shortliv'd possession ! but the record fair,
That memory keeps of all thy kindness there,
Still outlives many a storm, that has erfac'd
A thousand other themes less deeply trac'd,
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made,
That thou might'st know me safe and warmly

laid;

Thy morning bounties ere I left my home,
The biscuit, or confectionary plum ;
The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestow'd
By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and

glow'd ;

All this, and more endearing still than all,
Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall,
Ne'er roughen'd by those cataracts and breaks,
That humour interpos'd too often makes ;
All this still legible in memory's page,
All still to be so to my latest age.
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Such honours to thee as my numbers may ;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorn'd in Heav'n, though little notic'd here.

Could Time, his flight revers'd, restore the

hours,

When, playing with thy vesture's tissu'd flow'rs,
The violet, the pink, and jessamine,
I prick 'd them into paper with a pin,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 59

(And thou wast happier than myself the while,
Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head, and

smile)

Could those few pleasant days again appear,
Might one wish bring them, would I wish them

here ?

I would not trust my heart the dear delight
Seems so to be desir'd, perhaps I might
But no what here we call our life is such,
So little to be lov'd, and thou so much,
That I should ill requite thee to constrain
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.



LXVII
BUN VAN'S PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

thou, whom, borne on fancy's eager wing
Back to the season of life's happy spring,

1 pleas' d remember, and, while memory yet
Holds fast her office here, can ne'er forget ;
Ingenious dreamer, in whose well-told tale
Sweet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail ;
Whose hum'rous vein, strong sense, and simple

style

May teach the gayest, make the gravest smile ;
Witty, and well employ'd, and, like thy Lord,
Speaking in parables His slighted word ;
I name thee not, lest so despis'd a name
Should move a sneer at thy deserved fame ;
Yet ev'n in transitory life's late day,
That mingles all my brown with sober gray,
Revere the man, whose PILGRIM marks the road,
And guides the PROGRESS of the soul to God.
'Twere well with most, if books, that could

engage

Their childhood, pleas'd them at a riper age ;
The man, approving what had charm'd the boy.
Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy.



60 ENGLISH VERSE

LXVIII

THE PLAYGROUND

Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise,
We love the play-place of our early days ;
.The scene is touching, and the heart is stone
That feels not at that sight, and feels at none.
The wall on which we tried our graving skill,
The very name we carved subsisting still ;
The bench on which we sat while deep employ'd,
Though mangled, hack'd, and hew'd, not yet

destroy 'd ;

The little ones unbutton'd, glowing hot,
Playing our games, and on the very spot ;
As happy as we once, to kneel and draw
The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw
To pitch the ball into the grounded hat,
Or drive it devious with a dexterous pat ;
The pleasing spectacle at once excites
Such recollection of our own delights,
That, viewing it, we seem almost t' obtain
Our innocent sweet simple years again.



GEORGE CRABBE

LXIX

FIRST GRIEF

Yes ! looking back as early as I can,
I see the griefs that seize their subject Man,
That in the weeping Child their early reign

began :

Yes ! though Pain softens, and is absent since,
He still controls me like my lawful prince.
Joys I remember, like phosphoric light
Or squibs and crackers on a gala night.
Joys are like oil ; if thrown upon the tide
Of flowing life, they mix not, nor subside :



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 61

Griefs are like waters on the river thrown,
They mix entirely, and become its own.
Of all the good that grew of early date,
I can but parts and incidents relate :
A guest arriving, or a borrow' d day
From school, or schoolboy triumph at some play :
And these from Pain may be deduced ; for these
Removed some ill, and hence their power to
please.

But it was Misery stung me in the day
Death of an infant sister made a prey ;
For then first met and moved my early fears,
A father's terrors, and a mother's tears.
Though greater anguish I have since endured,
Some heal'd in part, some never to be cured ;
Yet was there something in that first-born ill,
So new, so strange, that memory feels it still !

THAT my first grief : but oh ! in after years
Were other deaths, that call'd for other tears. . . .
But here I dwell not let me while I can,
Go to the Child, and lose the suffering Man.



WILLIAM BLAKE



THE PIPER

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,

On a cloud I saw a child,

And he laughing said to me :

' Pipe a song about a Lamb ! '
So I piped with merry cheer.

' Piper, pipe that song again ; '
So I piped : he wept to hear.

' Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe ;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer :



62 ENGLISH VERSE

So I sang the same again,

While he wept with joy to hear.

' Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.'

So he vanished from my sight,
And I pluck'd a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,

And I stain'd the water clear,

And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.



INFANT JOY

' I have no name :
I am but two days old.'
What shall I call thee ?
' I happy am,
Joy is my name.'
Sweet joy befall thee !

Pretty Joy !

Sweet Joy, but two days old.

Sweet Joy I call thee :

Thou dost smile,

I sing the while,

Sweet joy befall thee !



LXXII
CRADLE SONG

Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night
Sleep, sleep ; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 63

Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.

O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep !
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful night shall break.



LXXIII
CRADLE SONG

Sweet dreams, form a shade
O'er my lovely infant's head ',
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams.

Sweet sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown.
Sweet sleep, Angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child.

Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight ;
Sweet smiles, mother's smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes.
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.

Sleep, sleep, happy child,'
All creation slept and smil'd ;
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o'er thee thy mother weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace.



64 ENGLISH VERSE

Sweet babe, once like thee,
Thy Maker lay and wept for me,

Wept for me, for thee, for all
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee,

Smiles on thee, on me, on all ;
Who became an infant small.
Infant smiles are His own smiles ;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles.



NURSE'S SONG

When the voices of children are heard on the
green,

And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,

And everything else is still.

' Then come home, my children, the sun is gone
down,

And the dews of night arise ;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away

Till the morning appears in the skies.'

' No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,

And we cannot go to sleep ;
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,

And the hills are all cover'd with sheep.'

' Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,

And then go home to bed.'
The little ones leaped and shouted and laugh'd

And all the hills echoed.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 65

LXXV

THE LITTLE BLACK BOY

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O ! my soul is white ;

White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereav'd of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And, sitting down before the heat of day,

She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And, pointing to the east, began to say :

' Look on the rising sun, there God does live,
And gives His light, and gives His heat away ;

And flowers and trees and beasts and men

receive
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

' And we are put on earth a little space,

That we may learn to bear the beams of love ;

And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

' For when our souls have learn'd the heat to

bear,

The cloud will vanish ; we shall hear His voice_.
Saying : " Come out from the grove, My love

and care,
And round My golden tent like lambs rejoice." '

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me ;

And thus I say to little English boy.
When I from black and he from white cloud
free,

And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,

I'll shade him from the heat, till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our Father's knee ;

And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.



66 ENGLISH VERSE



HOLY THURSDAY
(In Songs of Innocence)

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces

clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and

blue and green.
Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as

white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like

Thames' waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of

London town !
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all

their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes

of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their

innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to Heaven the

voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of

Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of

the poor ;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from

your door.

LXXVII

HOLY THURSDAY
(In Songs of Experience)

Is this a holy thing to see

In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduc'd to misery,

Fed with cold and usurous hand ?



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 67

Is that trembling cry a song ?

Can it be a song of joy ?
And so many children poor ?

It is a land of poverty !

And their sun does never shine,

And their fields are bleak and bare,

And their ways are fill'd with thorns :
It is eternal winter there.

For where'er the sun does shine,
And where'er the rain does fall,

Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appal.



LXXVIII
THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ' 'weep ! 'weep ! 'weep !

'weep ! '
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his

head,
That curl'd like a lamb's back, was shav'd : so

I said,
' Hush, Tom ! never mind it, for when your

head's bare
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white

hair.'

And so he was quiet, and that very night,

As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight !

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and

Jack,
Were all of them lock'd up in coffins of black.

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free ;



63 ENGLISH VERSE

Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they

run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind ;
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke ; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Tho' the morning was cold, Tom was happy and

warm ;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.



ROBERT BURNS



THE COTTER'S HOME-COMING

At length his lonely cot appears in view,

Beneath the shelter of an aged tree ;
Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher thro'

To meet their Dad, wi' flichterin noise an' glee.
His wee bit ingle, blinking bonnily,

His clean hearthstane, his thriftie wine's smile,
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,

Does a' his weary carking cares beguile,
An' makes him quite forget his labour an* his
toil.



SAMUEL ROGERS

LXXX

MEMORIES OF HIS CHILDHOOD'S
HOME

Now stained with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung,
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung ;
When round yon ample board, in due degree,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 69

We sweetened every meal with social glee.
The heart's light laugh pursued the circling jest ;
And all was sunshine in each little breast.
'Twas here we chased the slipper by the sound ;
And turned the blindfold hero round and round.
'Twas here, at eve, we formed our fairy ring ;
And Fancy fluttered on her wildest wing.
Giants and genii chained each wondering ear ;
And orphan-sorrows drew the ready tear.
Oft with the babes we wandered in the wood,
Or viewed the forest-feats of Robin Hood :
Oft fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour,
With startling step we scaled the lonely tower ;
O'er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murdered by ruffian hands, when smiling in its
sleep.

Ye household deities ! whose guardian eye
Mark'd each pure thought, ere registered on high ;
Still, still ye walk the consecrated ground,
And breathe the soul of Inspiration round.



MARY LAMB

LXXXI

IN MEMORIAM

A child's a plaything for an hour ;

Its pretty tricks we try
For that or for a longer space ;

Then tire, and lay it by.

But I knew one that to itself

All seasons could control ;
That would have mock'd the sense of pain

Out of a grieved soul.

Thou straggler into loving arms,

Young climber-up of knees,
When I forget thy thousand ways

Then life and all shall cease !



70 ENGLISH VERSE



ROBERT BLOOMFIELD

LXXXII

THE BLIND CHILD

Where's the blind child, so admirably fair,
With guileless dimples, and with flaxen hair
That waves in every breeze ? He's often seen
Beside yon cottage wall, or on the green,
With others matched in spirit and in size,
Health on their cheeks and rapture in their

eyes.

That full expanse of voice to childhood dear,
Soul of their sports, is duly cherished here :
And hark, that laugh is his, that jovial cry ;
He hears the ball and trundling hoop brush by,
And runs the giddy course with all his might,
A very child in everything but sight ;
With circumscribed, but not abated powers,
Play, the great object of his infant hours.
In many a game he takes a noisy part,
And shows the native gladness of his heart ;
But soon he hears, on pleasure all intent,
The new suggestion and the quick assent ;
The grove invites, delight thrills every breast
To leap the ditch, and seek the downy nest,
Away they start ; leave balls and hoops behind,
And one companion leave the boy is blind !
His fancy paints their distant paths so gay,
That childish fortitude awhile gives way :
He feels his dreadful loss ; yet short the pain,
Soon he resumes his cheerfulness again,
Pondering how best his moments to employ
He sings his little songs of nameless joy ;
Creeps on the warm green turf for many an hour,
And plucks by chance the white and yellow

flower ;

Smoothing their stems while, resting on his knees,
He binds a nosegay which he never sees ;



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 71

Along the homeward path then feels his way,
Lifting his brow against the shining day,
And with a playful rapture round his eyes
Presents a sighing parent with the prize.


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Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 4 of 20)