L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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father's knee

A loved bequest ! and I may half impart

To them that feel the strong paternal tie,

How like a new existence to his heart

That living flower uprose beneath his eye,

Dear as she was, from cherub infancy,

From hours when she would round his garden

play,

To time when, as the ripening years went by,
Her lovely mind could culture well repay,
And more engaging grew from pleasing day to

day.

I may not print those thousand infant charms
(Unconscious fascination, undesigned ! ) ;
The orison repeated in his arms,
For God to bless her sire, and all mankind ;
The book, the bosom on his knee reclined,
Or how sweet fairy-lore he heard her con
(The playmate ere the teacher of her mind)
All uncompanioned else her heart had gone
Till now, in Gertrude's eyes, their ninth blue
summer shone.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD in



Inspire me, child, with visions fair !
For children, in Creation, are
The only things that could be given
Back, and alive unchanged to Heaven.



cxx
THE FLIGHT OF TIME

The more we live, more brief appear

Our life's succeeding stages :
A day to childhood seems a year,

And years like passing ages. . . .

Heaven gives oui years of fading strength

Indemnifying fleetness ;
And those of youth, a seeming length

Proportion'd to their sweetness.



LEIGH HUNT



TO T. L. H.

(Six Years Old, During a Sickness)

Sleep breathes at last from out thee,

My little patient boy ;
And balmy rest about thee

Smooths off the day's annoy.
I sit me down, and think

Of all thy winning ways :
Yet almost wish, with sudden shrink,

That I had less to praise.

Thy sidelong pillowed meekness.
Thy thanks to all that aid,



112 ENGLISH VERSE

Thy heart, in pain and weakness,

Of fancied faults afraid ;
The little trembling hand

That wipes thy quiet tears,
These, these are things that may demand

Dread memories for years. . . .
Ah, first-born of thy mother,

When life and hope were new,
Kind playmate of thy brother,

Thy sister, father too ;
My light, where'er I go,

My bird, when prison-bound,
My hand-in-hand companion, no,

My prayers shall hold thee round.
To say ' He has departed,'

' His voice ' ' his face ' is gone ;
To feel impatient-hearted,

Yet feel we must bear on ;
Ah, I could not endure

To whisper of such woe,
Unless I felt this sleep ensure

That it will not be so.



THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK

CXXII

MARGARET LOVE PEACOCK
(Three Yeats Old)

Long night succeeds thy little day ;

O blighted blossom ! can it be,
That this grey stone and grassy clay

Have closed our anxious care of thee ?
The half-formed speech of artless thought,

That spoke a mind beyond thy years,
The sqng, the dance by nature taught.

The sunny smiles, the transient tears,
The symmetry of face and form,

The eye with light and life replete.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 113

The little heart so fondly warm,
The voice so musically sweet,

These, lost to hope, in memory yet

Around the hearts that loved thee cling,

Shadowing, with long and vain regret,
The too fair promise of thy spring.



JOHN WILSON

CXXIII

TO A SLEEPING CHILD

. . . Who can tell what visions high
May bless an infant's sleeping eye !
What brighter throne can brightness find
To reign on than an infant's mind,
Ere sin destroy or error dim
The glory of the seraphim ?

Oh, vision fair, that I could be
Again as young, as pure as thee ! . . .

Fair was that face as break of dawn,
When o'er its beauty sleep was drawn
Like a thin veil that half-concealed
The light of soul, and half-revealed.
While thy hushed heart with visions wrought,
Each trembling eyelash moved with thought,
And things we dream, but ne'er can speak,
Like clouds came floating o'er thy cheek,
Such summer-clouds as travel light,
When the soul's heaven lies calm and bright ;
Till thou awok'st then to thine eye
Thy whole heart leapt in ecstasy !
And lovely is that heart of thine,
Or sure these eyes could never shine
With such a wild, yet bashful glee,
Gay, half-o'ercome timidity !

H



U4 ENGLISH VERSE

SIR AUBREY DE VERE



THE CHILDREN BAND

(The Children's Crusade)

All holy influences dwell within

The breast of Childhood : instincts fresh from
God

Inspire it, ere the heart beneath the rod
Of grief hath bled, or caught the plague of sin.
How mighty was that fervour which could win

Its way to infant souls ! and was the sod

Of Palestine by infant Croises trod ?
Like Joseph went they forth, or Benjamin,
In all their touching beauty, to redeem ?

And did their soft lips kiss the sepulchre ?
Alas ! the lovely pageant, as a dream,

Faded ! they sank not through ignoble fear ;
They felt no Moslem steel. By mountain, stream,

In sands, in fens, they died no mother near !



BRYAN WALLER PROCTER

cxxv
TO ADELAIDE

Child of my heart ! my sweet beloved First-born !
Thou dove, that tidings bring'st of calmer hours !
Thou rainbow, who dost shine when all the

showers
Are past or passing ! Rose which hath no

thorn,

No spot, no blemish, pure and unforlorn !
Untouched, untainted ! Oh, my flower of

flowers !

More welcome than to bees are summer bowers ;
TO stranded seamen, life-assuring morn.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 115

Welcome a thousand welcomes. Care, who

clings

Round all, seems loosening now its serpent fold ;
New hope springs upward ; and the bright world

seems

Cast back into a youth of endless springs !
Sweet mother, is it so ? or grow I old,
Bewildered in divine Elysian dreams ?



cxxvi
WISHES

Sweet be her dreams, the fair, the young !

Grace, Beauty, breathe upon her !
Music, haunt thou about her tongue !

Life, fill her path with honour !

All golden thoughts, all wealth of days,
Truth, Friendship, Love, surround her !

So may she smile, till life be closed,
And Angel hands have crowned her !



JOHN KEBLE

CXXVII

CHILDREN WITH DUMB CREATURES

Thou mak'st me jealous, Infant dear ;
Why wilt thou waste thy precious smiles,
Thy beckonings blithe, and joyous wiles,
On bird or insect gliding near ?

Why court the deaf and blind ?
What is this wondrous sympathy,
That draws thee so, heart, ear and eye.
Towards the inferior kind ?

We tempt thee much to look and sing,
Thy mimic notes are rather drawn
From feathered playmates on the lawn.

The quivering moth or bee's soft wing,



n6 ENGLISH VERSE

Brushing the window pane,
Will reach thee in thy dreamy trance,
When nurses' skill for one bright glance

Hath toil'd an hour in vain.

And as thou hold'st the creatures dear,
So are they fain on thee to wait.
Blood-hounds at thy caress abate
Their bayings wild ; yea, without fear

Thou dalliest in the lair
Of watch-dog stern ; thy mother's eye
Shrinks not to see thee slumbering lie
Beneath his duteous care. . . .

Ah, you have been in Jesus' arms,
The holy Fount hath you imbued
With His all-healing kindly Blood,
And somewhat of His pastoral charms.

And care for His lost sheep,
Ye there have learn'd : in order'd tones
Gently to soothe the lesser ones,

And watch their noon-day sleep. . . .



CXXVIII

GARDENING

Seest thou yon woodland child,
How amid flowerets wild,
Wilder himself, he plies his pleasure-task ?
That ring of fragrant ground,
With its low woodbine bound,
He claims : no more, as yet, his little heart need
ask.

There learns he flower and weed
To sort with careful heed :
He waits not for the weary noontide hour.
There with the soft night air
Comes his refreshing care :

Each tiny leaf looks up, and thanks him for the
shower,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 117

Thus faithful found awhile,
He wins the joyous smile
Of friend or parent ; glad and bright is he,
When for his garland gay
He hears the kind voice say,

* Well hast thou wrought, dear boy : the garden
thine shall be.'

And when long years are flown,
And the proud word, Mine Own,
Familiar sounds, what joy in field or bower
To view by Memory's aid
Again that garden glade,

And muse on all the lore there learned in each
bright hour !

Is not a life well spent
A child's play-garden, lent
For Heaven's high trust to train young heart

and limb ?

When in yon field on high
Our hard-won powers we try,
Will no mild tones of earth blend with the
adoring hymn ?

O fragrant, sure, will prove
The breath of patient Love,
Even from these fading sweets by Memory cast,
As deepening evermore
To Him our song we pour,

Who lent us Earth, that He might give us Heaven
at last.

cxxix
' NURSE, LET ME DRAW

' Nurse, let me draw the baby's veil aside,
I want to see the Cross upon her brow.'

Nay, maiden dear, that seal may not abide
In sight of mortals' ken ; 'tis vanish'd now.

' Alas, for pity ! when the holy man

Said even now, ' I sign thee with the cross/



n8 ENGLISH VERSE

What joy to think that I at home should scan
The bright, clear lines ! O, sad and sudden
loss ! '

Complain not so, my child : no loss is here,
But endless gain. If thou wilt open wide

Faith's inward eye, soon shall to thee appear
What now by wondering angels is descried,

Thy Lord's true token, seen but not believ'd,
And therefore doubly blest. O, mark it well,

And be this rule in thy young heart receiv'd,
Blest, who content with Him in twilight
dwell. .



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
cxxx



My lost William, thou in whom

Some bright spirit lived, and did
That decaying robe consume

Which its lustre faintly hid,
Here its ashes find a tomb,

But beneath this pyramid
Thou art not if a thing divine
Like thee can die, thy funeral shrine
Is thy mother's grief and mine.

Where art thou, my gentle child ?

Let me think thy spirit feeds,
With its life intense and mild,

The love of living leaves and weeds,
Among these tombs and ruins wild ;

Let me think that through low seeds
Of sweet flowers and sunny grass,
Into their hues and scents may pass
A portion . . .



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 119

CXXXI

TO WILLIAM SHELLEY

(A Fragment)

Thy little footsteps on the sands
Of a remote and lonely shore ;

The twinkling of thine infant hands,

Where now the worm will feed no more :

Thy mingled look of love and glee

When we returned to gaze on thee !

FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS

CXXXII

THE CHILD'S SLEEP

Thou sleepest but when wilt thou wake, fair

child ?

When the fawn awakes in the forest wild ?
When the lark's wing mounts with the breeze of

morn ?

When the first rich breath of the rose is born ?
Lonely thou sleepest, yet something lies
Too deep and still on thy soft-sealed eyes ;
Mournful, though sweet, is thy rest to see
When will the hour of thy rising be ?

Not when the fawn wakes not when the lark
On the crimson cloud of the morn floats dark.
Grief with vain passionate tears hath wet
The hair, shedding gleams from thy pale brow yet ;
Love, with sad kisses unfelt, hath pressed
Thy meek-dropt eyelids and quiet breast ;
And the glad spring, calling out bird and bee,
Shall colour all blossoms, fair child ! but thee.

Thou'rt gone from us, bright one ! that thou

shouldst die,
And life be left to the butterfly !



120 ENGLISH VERSE

Thou'rt gone as a dewdrop is swept from the

bough ;

Oh ! for the world where thy home is now !
How may we love but in doubt and fear,
How may we anchor our fond hearts here ;
How should e'en joy but a trembler be,
Beautiful dust ! when we look on thee ?



JOHN CLARE

CXXXIII

'SEASONS RETURN'

Spring comes anew, and brings each little pledge
That still, as wont, my childish heart deceives :
I stoop again for violets in the hedge,
Among the ivy and old withered leaves ;
And often mark, amid the clumps of sedge,
The pooty-shells I gathered when a boy :
But cares have claimed me many an evil day,
And chilled the relish which I had for joy.
Yet when crab-blossoms blush among the May,
As erst in years gone by, I scramble now
Up 'mid the bramble for my old esteems,
Filling my hands with many a blooming bough ;
Till the heart-stirring past as present seems,
Save the bright sunshine of those fairy dreams.



cxxxiv
MY EARLY HOME

Here sparrows build upon the trees,

And stockdove hides her nest ;
The leaves are winnow' d by the breeze

Into a calmer rest ;
The black-cap's song was very sweet,

That used the rose to kiss ;
It made the Paradise complete :

My early home was this.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 121

The redbreast from the sweet-briar bush

Drop't down to pick the worm ;
On the horse-chestnut sang the thrush,

O'er the house where I was born ;
The moonlight, like a shower of pearls,

Fell o'er this ' bower of bliss,'
And on the bench sat boys and girls :

My early home was this.

The old house stoop'd just like a cave,

Thatch 'd o'er with mosses green ;
Winter around the walls would rave,

But all was calm within ;
The trees are here all green again,

Here bees the flowers still kiss,
But flowers and trees seem'd sweeter then :

My early home was this.



HARTLEY COLERIDGE

cxxxv
CHILDHOOD

Oh, what a wilderness were this sad world
If man were always man, and never child ;
If Nature gave no time, so sweetly wild,
When every thought is deftly crisped and curled,
Like fragrant hyacinth with dew impearled,
And every feeling in itself confiding,
Yet never single, but continuous, gliding
With wavy motion as, on wings unfurled,
A seraph clips Empyreal ! Such man was
Ere sin had made him know himself too well.
No child was born ere that primaeval loss.
What might have been no living soul can tell,
But Heaven is kind, and therefore all possess
Once in their life fair Eden's simpleness.



122 ENGLISH VERSE

CXXXVI

TO AN INFANT

Wise is the way of Nature, first to make

This tiny model of what is to be,

A thing that we may love as soon as see.

That seems as passive as a summer lake

When there is not a sigh of wind to shake

The aspen leaf upon the tall, slim tree.

Yet who can tell, sweet infant mystery,

What thoughts in thee may now begin to wake ?

Something already dost thou know of pain,

And, sinless, bear'st the penalty of sin ;

And yet as quickly wilt thou smile again

After thy cries, as vanishes the stain

Of breath from steel. So may the peace within

In thy ripe season re-assert its reign.



TO MARGARET, ON HER FIRST
BIRTH DA Y

One year is past, with change and sorrow fraught,
Since first the little Margaret drew her breath,
And yet the fatal names of Sin and Death,
Her sad inheritance, she knoweth not.
That lore, by earth inevitably taught,
In the still world of spirits is untold ;
'Tis not of Death or Sin that angels hold
Sweet converse with the slumb'ring infant's

thought.

Merely she is with God, and God with her
And her meek ignorance. Guiltless of demur,
For her is faith a hope ; her innocence
Is holiness ; the bright-eyed crowing glee,
That makes her leap her grandsire's face to

see,
Is love unfeign'd and willing reverence.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 123



ON PARTING WITH A VERY PRETTY,
BUT VERY LITTLE LADY

"Tis ever thus. We only meet on earth
That we may know how sad it is to part :
And sad indeed it were, if, in the heart,
There were no store reserved against a dearth,
No calm Elysium for departed Mirth,
Haunted by gentle shadows of past Pleasure :
Where the sweet folly, the light-footed measure,
And graver trifles of the shining hearth
Live in their own dear image. Lady fair,
Thy presence in our little vale has been
A visitation of the Fairy Queen,
Who for brief space reveals her beauty rare,
And shows her tricksy feats to mortal eyes,
Then fades into her viewless Paradise.



cxxxix
TO A PROUD KINSWOMAN

Fair maid, had I not heard thy baby cries,

Nor seen thy girlish, sweet vicissitude,

Thy mazy motions, striving to elude,

Yet wooing still a parent's watchful eyes,

Thy humours, many as the opal's dyes,

And lovely all ; methinks thy scornful mood,

And bearing high of stately womanhood,

Thy brow, where Beauty sits to tyrannise

O'er humble love, had made me sadly fear thee,

For never sure was seen a royal bride,

Whose gentleness gave grace to so much pride

My very thoughts would tremble to be near

thee ;

But when I see thee at thy father's side,
Old times unqueen thee, and old loves endear

thee.



124 ENGLISH VERSE



SHE PASS'D AWAY LIKE MORNING
DEW

Ah ! well it is, since she is gone,

She can return no more,
To see the face so dim and wan,

That was so warm before.

Familiar things would all look strange,

And pleasure past be woe ;
A record sad of ceaseless change,

Is all the world below.

The very hills, they are not now
The hills which\>nce they were ;

They change as we are changed, or how
Could we the burden bear ? . . .

She pass'd away, like morning dew,

Before the sun was high :
So brief her time, she scarcely knew

The meaning of a sigh.

As round the rose its soft perfume,
Sweet love around her floated ;

Admired she grew while mortal doom
Crept on, unfear'd, unnoted.

Love was her guardian Angel here,
But love to death resign'd her ;

Tho' Love was kind, why should we fear,
But holy death is kinder ?



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 125
THOMAS HOOD



/ REMEMBER, I REMEMBER

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn ;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

I remember, I remember
The roses, red and white,
The violets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light !
The lilac where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday
The tree is living yet !

I remember, I remember

Where I was used to swing,

And thought the air must rush as fresh

To swallows on the wing ;

My spirit flew in feathers then,

That is so heavy now,

And summer pools could hardly cool

The fever on my brow.

I remember, I remember

The fir trees dark and high ;

I used to think their slender tops

Were close against the sky :

It was a childish ignorance,

But now 'tis little joy

To know I'm farther off from Heav'n

Than when I was a boy.



126 ENGLISH VERSE

MARY HO WITT

CXLII

LITTLE CHILDREN

Sporting through the forest wide ;
Playing by the waterside ;
Wandering o'er the heathy fells,
Down within the woodland dells ;
All among the mountains wild
Dwelleth many a little child !
In the baron's hall of pride,
By the poor man's dull fireside ;
'Mid the mighty, 'mid the mean,
Little children may be seen,
Like the flowers that spring up fair,
Bright and countless, everywhere.

W T heresoe'er a foot hath gone,
Wheresoe'er the sun nath shone
On a league of peopled ground,
Little children may be found !
Blessings on them ! they in me
Move a kindly sympathy
With their wishes, hopes and fears ;
With their laughter and their tears ;
With their wonder so intense,
And their small experience !

Little children, not alone
On the wide earth are ye known.
'Mid its labours and its cares,
'Mid its sufferings and its snares ;
Free from sorrow, free from strife,
In the world of love and life,
Where no sinful thing hath trod,
In the presence of your God,
Spotless, blameless, glorified,
Little children, ye abide !



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 127

THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY,
LORD MACAULAY

CXLIII

THE REMORSE OF CAIN

All hearts are light around the hall

Save his who is the lord of all.

The painted roofs, the attendant train,

The lights, the banquet, all are vain.

He sees them not. His fancy strays

To other scenes and other days.

A cot by a lone forest's edge,

A fountain murmuring through the trees,
A garden with a wildflower hedge,

Whence sounds the music of the bees,
A little flock of sheep at rest
Upon a mountain's swarthy breast.
On his rude spade he seems to lean

Beside the well remembered stone,
Rejoicing o'er the promised green

Of the first harvest man hath sown.
He sees his mother's tears ;
His father's voice he hears,
Kind as when first it praised his youthful skill.
And soon a seraph-child,
In boyish rapture wild,

With a light crook comes bounding from the hill,
Kisses his hands and strokes his face,
And nestles close in his embrace. . . .



WILLIAM BARNES

CXLIV

CHILDHOOD

Aye at that time our days were but vew,
An' our lim',s were but small, an' a-growen



128 ENGLISH VERSE

An" then the feair worold wer new,
An' life were all hopevul an' gay ;
An' the times o' the sprouten o' leaves,
An' the cheak-burnen seasons o' mowen,
An' binden o' red-headed sheaves,
Wer all welcome seasons o' jay.

Then the housen seem'd high, that be low,
An' the brook did seem wide that is narrow.
An' time, that do vice, did goo slow,
An' veelens now feeble wer strong,
An' our worold did end wi' the neames
Ov the Sha'sbury Hill or Bulbarrow ;
An' life did seem only the geames
That we play'd as the days rolled along.

Then the rivers, an' high-timber'd lands,
An' the zilvery hills, 'ithout buyen,
Did seem to come into our hands
Vrom others that own'd 'em avore ;
An' all zickness, an' sorrow, an' need,
Seem'd to die wi' the wold vo'k a-dyen,
An' leave us vor ever a-freed
From evils our vorefathers bore.

But happy be childern the while
They have elders a-liven to love 'em,
An' teake all the wearisome tweil
That zome hands or others mus' do ;
Like the low-headed shrubs that be warm,
In the lewth o' the trees up above 'em,
A-screen'd vrom the cwold blowen storm
That the timber avore 'em must rue.



CXLV
THE WELSHNUT TREE

When in the evenen the zun's a zinken,

A-drowen sheades vrom the yollow west,
An' mother, weary, 's a-zot a thinken,
Wi' vwolded earms by the vire at rest,



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 129

Then we do zwarm, O,
Wi' such a charm, O,
So vull o' glee by the welshnut tree.

A-leaven father in-doors, a leinen

In his girt chair in his easy shoes,
Or in the settle so high behine en,

While down bezide en the dog do snooze,
Our tongues do run, O,
Enough to stun, O,
Your head wi' glee by the welshnut tree.

There we do play ' thread the woman's needle,'

An' slap the maidens a darten drough :
Or try who'll ax 'em the hardest riddle,
Or soonest tell woone a-put us, true ;
Or zit an' ring, O,
The bells, ding, ding, O,
Upon our knee by the welshnut tree.

An* zome do goo out, an' hide in orcha't

An' tothers, slily a-stealen by,
Where there's a dark cunnen pleace, do sarch it,
Till they do zee em an' cry, ' I spy,'
An' thik a-vound, O,
Do gie a bound, O,
To get off free to the welshnut tree.

Poll went woone night, that we midden vind her,

Inzide a woak wi' a hollow moot,
An' drough a hole near the groun' behind her,
I pok'd a stick in, an' catch'd her voot ;
An' out she scream'd, O,
An' jump'd, an' seem'd, O,
A' most to vlee to the welshnut tree.

An' when, at last, at the drashel, mother

Do call us, smilen, in-door to rest,
Then we do cluster by woone another.
To zee hwome them we do love the best :
An' then do sound, O,
' Good night,' all round, O,
To end our glee by the welshnut tree.
i



130 ENGLISH VERSE



CXLVI

THE TURNSTILE

Ah ! sad wer we as we did peace

The wold church road, wi' downcast feace,

The while the bells, that mwoan'd so deep

Above our child a-left asleep,

Wer now a-zingen all alive

Wi' tother bells to meake the vive.

But up at woone pleace we come by,

'Twer hard to keep woone' s two eyes dry :

On Stean-cliff road, 'ithin the drong,

Up where, as vo'k do pass along,

The turnen stile, a-painted white,

Do sheen by day an' show by night.

Vor always there, as we did goo

To church, thik stile did let us drough,

Wi' spreaden earms that wheel' d to guide

Us each in turn to tother zide.

An' vu'st ov all the train he took

My wife, wi' winsome gait'an' look ;

An' then zent on my little maid,

A-skippen onward, overjay'd

To reach agean the pleace o' pride,

Her comely mother's left nan' zide.

An' then a-wheelen roun', he took

On me, 'ithin his third white nook.

An' in the fourth, a-sheaken wild,

He zent us on our giddy child.

But eesterday he guided, slow

My downcast Jenny, vull o' woe,

An' then my little maid in black,

A-walken softly on her track ;

An' after he'd a-turn'd agean,

To let me goo along the leane,

He had noo little bwoy to vill

His last white earms, an' they stood still.



ON INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD 131



CXLVII

THE LITTLE SISTER

O' zummer night, as day did gleam,

Wi' weanen light, vrom red to wan,
An' we did play above the stream

Avore our house a-winden on,
Our little sister, light o' tooe,

Did skip about in all her pride
O' snow-white frock an' sash o' blue,

A sheape that night wer slow to hide,
Bezide the brook a-tricklen thin
Among the poppies, out an' in.

If periwinkles' buds o' blue

By lilies' hollow cups do wind,


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