L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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Yes, I remember when the changeful earth,
And twice five summers on my mind had stamped
The faces of the moving year, even then
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain
Of waters coloured by impending clouds.

Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy
Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits
Are prompt attendants, 'mid that giddy bliss
Which, like a tempest, works along the blood
And is forgotten ; even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield ; the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things.




There was a time when meadow, grove, and

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore ;
Turn wheresoe'er I may,

By night or day,

The things which I have seen I now can see no


The Rainbow comes and goes.
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair ;
The sunshine is a glorious birth ;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief ;
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,

And I again am strong :

The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep ;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong ;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay ;

Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,

And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday ;

Thou Child of Joy,

Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou

Shepherd-boy !


Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call

Ye to each other make ; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee ;

My heart is at your festival,

My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel I feel it all.

Oh evil day ! if I were sullen

While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,

And the Children are culling
On every side,

In a thousand valleys far and wide,

Fresh flowers ; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother's arm :

I hear, I hear, with joy I hear !

But there's a Tree, of many, one,
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone :

The Pansy at my feet

Doth the same tale repeat :
Whither is fled the visionary gleam ?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream ?

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting :
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar :

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home :
Heaven lies about us in our infancy !
Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy ;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east


Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,

And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended ;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own ;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind.
And, even with something of a Mother's mind,

And no unworthy aim,

The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,

Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six-years' Darling of a pigmy size !
See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes i
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learned art ;

A wedding or a festival,

A mourning or a funeral ;

And this hath now his heart,

And unto this he frames his song :

Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife ;

But it will not be long

Ere this be thrown aside,

And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part ;
Filling from time to time his ' humorous stage
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage ;

As if his whole vocation

Were endless imitation.


Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie

Thy Soul's immensity ;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,

Mighty Prophet ! Seer blest !

On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave ;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by ;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
-Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife ?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom he upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life !

O joy ! that in our embers

Is something that doth live,

That nature yet remembers

What was so fugitive !

The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction : not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his
breast :

Not for these I raise

The song of thanks and praise ;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,


Fallings from us, vanishings ;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised :

But for those first affections,

Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing ;

Uphold us, cherish, and have power to


Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence : truths that wake,

To perish never ;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,

Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy !

Hence in a season of calm weather

Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea

Which brought us hither,

Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song !

And let the young Lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound !
We in thought will join your throng,

Ye that pipe and ye that play,

Ye that through your hearts to-day

Feel the gladness of the May !
What though the radiance which was once so

Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower ;

We will grieve not, rather find


Strength in what remains behind ;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be ;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering ;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and


Forebode not any severing of our loves !
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might ;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels


Even more than when I tripped lightly as they ;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day

Is lovely yet ;

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality ;
Another race hath been, and other palms are


Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.


My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky :
So was it when my life began ;
So is it now I am a man :


So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die !

The Child is father of the Man ;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each by each by natural piety.



O, hush thee, my babie, thy sire was a knight,
Thy mother a lady, both lovely and bright ;
The woods and the glens, from the towers which

we see,

They all are belonging, dear babie, to thee.
O ho ro, i ri ri, cadul gu lo,
O ho ro, i ri ri, etc.

O, fear not the bugle, though loudly it blows,
It calls but the warders that guard thy repose ;
Their bows would be bended, their blades would

be red,
Ere the step of a foeman draws near to thy bed.

O ho ro, i ri ri, etc.
O, hush thee, my babie, the time soon will

When thy sleep shall be broken by trumpet and

drum ;
Then hush thee, my darling, take rest while you

For strife comes with manhood, and waking

with day.

O ho ro, i ri ri, etc.


The sheep, before the pinching heaven,
To shelter'd dale and down are driven,


Where yet some faded herbage pines,
And yet a watery sunbeam shines ;
In meek despondency they eye
The wither 'd sward and wintry sky,
And far beneath their summer hill,
Stray sadly by Glenkinnon's rill :
The shepherd shifts his mantle's fold,
And wraps him closer from the cold ;
His dogs no merry circles wheel.
But, shivering, follow at his heel ;
A cowering glance they often cast,
As deeper moans the gathering blast.

My imps, though hardy, bold, and wild,
As best befits the mountain child,
Feel the sad influence of the hour,
And wail the daisy's vanished flower ;
Their summer gambols tell, and mourn,
And anxious ask, Will spring return,
And birds and lambs again be gay,
And blossoms clothe the hawthorn spray ?

Yes, prattlers, yes. The daisy's flower
Again shall paint your summer bower ;
Again the hawthorn shall supply
The garlands you delight to tie ;
The lambs upon the lea shall bound,
The wild birds carol to the round,
And while you frolic light as they,
Too short shall seem the summer day.



A little child, a limber elf.
Singing, dancing to itself,
A fairy thing with red round cheeks,
That always finds and never seeks,
Makes such a vision to the sight
As fills a father's eyes with light. . .



Dear native brook ! wild streamlet of the West !
How many various-fated years have passed,
What happy, and what mournful hours, since last
I skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
Numbering its light leaps ! Yet so deep imprest
Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes
I never shut amid the sunny ray,
But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,
Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows gray,
And bedded sand that, veined with various dyes,
Gleamed through thy bright transparence. On

my way,

Visions of childhood ! oft have ye beguiled
Lone manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs :
Ah ! that once more I were a careless child.


O'er wayward childhood would'st thou hold firm


And sun thee in the light of happy faces ;
Love, Hope, and Patience, these must be thy


And in thine own heart let them first keep school.
For as old Atlas on his broad neck places
Heaven's starry globe, and there sustains it ; so
Do these upbear the little world below
Of Education, Patience, Love, and Hope.
Methinks, I see them group'd in seemly show,
The straiten'd arms upraised, the palms aslope,
And robes that, touching as adown they flow,
Distinctly blend, like snow emboss' d in snow.


O part them never ! If Hope prostrate lie,

Love too will sink and die.
But Love is subtle, and doth proof derive
From her own life that Hope is yet alive ;
And bending o'er, with soul-transfusing eyes,
And the soft murmurs of the mother dove,
Woos back the fleeting spirit, and half supplies;
Thus Love repays to Hope what Hope first gave

to Love.
Yet haply there will come a weary day,

When overtask' d at length

Both Love and Hope beneath the load give way.
Then with a statue's smile, a statue's strength,
Stands the mute sister, Patience, nothing loth,
And both supporting does the work of both.


Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm
Fill up the interspersed vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought !
My babe so beautiful ! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes ! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in Himself.
Great universal Teacher ! He shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.


Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops


Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.


(An Allegory)

On the wide level of a mountain's head,
(I knew not where, but 'twas some faery place)
Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,

A sister and a brother !

This far outstript the other ;
Yet ever runs she with reverted face,
And looks and listens for the boy behind :

For he, alas ! is blind !

O'er rough and smooth with even step he passed,
And knows not whether he be first or last.



which died before Baptism

' Be, rather than be call'd, a child of God,
Death whisper'd ! with assenting nod,
Its head upon its mother's breast,

The Baby bow'd, without demur
Of the kingdom of the Blest

Possessor, not inheritor.




It was a summer evening,

Old Kaspar's work was done ;
And he before his cottage door

Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.

She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,

That he, beside the rivulet,
In playing there, had found ;

He came to ask what he had found,

That was so large, and smooth, and round.

Old Kaspar took it from the boy,

Who stood expectant by ;
And then the old man shook his head,

And with a natural sigh,
' 'Tis some poor fellow's skull,' said he,
' Who fell in the great victory.

' I find them in the garden, for

There's many here about,
And often when I go to plough,

The ploughshare turns them out ;
For many thousand men/ said he,
' Were slain in the great victory. '

' Now tell us what 'twas all about,'

Young Peterkin he cries,
And little Wilhelmine looks up

With wonder-waiting eyes ;
' Now tell us all about the war,
And what they kill'd each other for ? '


' It was the English,' Kaspar cried,

' That put the French to rout ;
But what they kill'd each other for,

I could not well make out.
But everybody said,' quoth he,
' That 'twas a famous victory.

' My father lived at Blenheim then,

Yon little stream hard by ;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,

And he was forced to fly :
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.

' With fire and sword the country round

Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,

And new-born infant, died ;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.

' They say it was a shocking sight,

After the field was won,
For many thousand bodies here

Lay rotting in the sun ;
But things like that, you know, must be,
After a famous victory.

' Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
And our good Prince Eugene.'

' Why, 'twas a very wicked thing ! '
Said little Wilhelmine.

' Nay nay my little girl, ' quoth he,

' It was a famous victory !

' And everybody, praised the Duke

Who such a fight did win.'
' But what good came of it at last ? '

Quoth little Peterkin.
' Why that I cannot tell, ' said he,
' But 'twas a famous victory.'




In my poor mind it is most sweet to muse

Upon the days gone by ; to act in thought

Past seasons o'er, and be again a child ;

To sit in fancy on the turf-clad slope

Down which the child would roll ; to pluck gay


Make posies in the sun, which the child's hand
(Childhood offended soon, soon reconciled)
Would throw away, and straight take up again.
Then fling them to the winds, and o'er the


Bound with so playful and so light a foot,
That the pressed daisy scarce declined her head.


I saw where in the shroud did lurk

A curious frame of Nature's work ;

A floweret crush'd in the bud,

A nameless piece of Babyhood,

Was in her cradle-coffin lying ;

Extinct, with scarce the sense of dying :

So soon to exchange the imprisoning womb

For darker closets of the tomb !

She did but ope an eye, and put

A clear beam forth, then straight up shut

For the long dark : ne'er more to see

Through glasses of mortality.

Riddle of destiny, who can show
What thy short visit meant, or know
What thy errand here below ?


Shall we say that Nature blind

Check'd her hand, and changed her mind,

Just when she had exactly wrought

A finish'd pattern without fault ?

Could she flag, or could she tire,

Or lack'd she the Promethean fire

(With her nine moons' long workings sicken'd)

That should thy little limbs have quicken'd ?

Limbs so firm, they seem'd to assure

Life of health, and days mature :

Woman's self in miniature !

Limbs so fair, they might supply

(Themselves now but cold imagery)

The sculptor to make Beauty by.

Or did the stern-eyed Fate descry

That babe or mother, one must die ;

So in mercy left the stock

And cut the branch ; to save the shock

Of young years widow'd, and the pain

When single state comes back again

To the lone man who, reft of wife,

Thenceforward drags a maimed life ?

The economy of Heaven is dark,

And wisest clerks have miss'd the mark,

Why human buds, like this, should fall,

More brief than fly ephemeral

That has his day ; while shrivell'd crones

Stiffen with age to stocks and stones ;

And crabbed use the conscience sears

In sinners of an hundred years.

Mother's prattle, mother's kiss,
Baby fond, thou ne'er wilt miss :
Rites, which custom does impose,
Silver bells, and baby clothes ;
Coral redder than those lips
Which pale death did late eclipse ;
Music framed for infants' glee,
Whistle never tuned for thee ;
Though thou want'st not, thou shalt have them,
Loving hearts were they which gave them.
Let not one be missing ; nurse,


See them laid upon the hearse
Of infant slain by doom perverse.
Why should kings and nobles have
Pictured trophies to their grave,
And we, churls, to thee deny
Thy pretty toys with thee to lie
A more harmless vanity ?



Louisa serious grown and mild,
I knew you once a romping child,
Obstreperous much, and very wild.

Then you would clamber up my knees,
And strive with every art to tease,
When every art of yours could please.

Those things would scarce be proper now,
But they are gone, I know not how ;
And woman's written on your brow.

Time draws his finger o'er the scene ;

But I cannot forget between

The thing to me you once have been.




Darling shell, where hast thou been,
West or East ? or heard or seen ?
From what pastimes art thou come ?
Can we make amends at home ?

Whether thou hast tuned the dance
To the maids of ocean


Know I not ; but Ignorance
Never hurts Devotion.

This I know, lanthe's shell,
I must ever love thee well,
Though too little to resound
While the Nereids dance around ;

For, of all the shells that are,

Thou art sure the brightest ;
Thou, lanthe's infant care,

Most these eyes delightest.

To thy early aid she owes
Teeth like budding snowdrop rows :
And what other shell can say
On her bosom once it lay ?

That which into Cyprus bore

Venus from her native sea,
(Pride of shells !)) was never more

Dear to her than thou to me.



From you, lanthe, little troubles pass
Like little ripples down a sunny river ;

Your pleasures spring like daisies in the grass,
Cut down, and up again as blithe as ever.


There are some wishes that may start
Nor cloud the brow nor sting the heart.
Gladly then would I see how smiled
One who now fondles with her child ;
How smiled she but six years ago,
Herself a child, or nearly so.


Yes, let me bring before my sight

The silken tresses chain'd up tight,

The tiny fingers tipt with red

By tossing up the strawberry-bed ;

Half-open lips, long violet eyes,

A little rounder with surprise,

And then (her chin against the knee)

' Mamma, who can that stranger be ?

How grave the smile he smiles on me ! '


My serious son ! I see thee look

First on the picture, then the book.

I catch the wish that thou couldst paint

The yearnings of the ecstatic saint.

Give it not up, my serious son !

Wish it again, and it is done.

Seldom will any fail who tries

With patient hand and steadfast eyes,

And wooes the true with such pure sighs.


Ye little household gods, that make
My heart leap lighter with your play,

And never let it sink or ache,
Unless you are too far away ;

Eight years have flown, and never yet
One day has risen up between

The kisses of my earlier pet,

And few the hours he was not seen.

How can I call to you from Rome ?
Will mamma teach what babbo said ?


Have ye not heard him talk at home
About the city of the dead ?

Marvellous tales will babbo tell,

If you don't clasp his throat too tight,

Tales which you, Arnold, will love well,

Though Julia's cheek turns pale with fright.

How, swimming o'er the Tiber, Clelia
Headed the rescued virgin train ;

And, loftier virtue ! how Cornelia

Lived when her two brave sons were slain.

This is my birthday : may ye waltz
Till mamma cracks her best guitar !

Yours are true pleasures ; those are false
We wise ones follow from afar.

What shall I bring you ? would you like
Urn, image, glass, red, yellow, blue,

Stricken by Time, who soon must strike
As deep the heart that beats for you ?


Child of a day, thou knowest not

The tears that overflow thine urn.
The gushing eyes that read thy lot,

Nor, if thou knewest, couldst return !
And why the wish ! The pure and blest

Watch like thy mother o'er thy sleep.
O peaceful night ! O envied rest !

Thou wilt not ever see her weep.




The rose of England bloomed on Gertrude's

What though these shades had seen her birth,

her sire

A Briton's independence taught to seek
Far western worlds ; and there his household


The light of social love did long inspire,
And many a halcyon day he lived to see
Unbroken but by one misfortune dire,
When fate had reft his mutual heart : but she
Was gone ; and Gertrude climbed a widowed

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Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 6 of 20)