L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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I heard this day bird after bird
But not one like the child has heard.


A hundred butterflies saw I
But not one like the child saw fly.

I saw the horses roll in grass

But no horse like the child saw pass.

My world this day has lovely been
But not like what the child has seen.




Come over, come over the deepening river,
Come over again the dark torrent of years,
Come over, come back where the green leaves

And the lilac still blooms and the grey sky clears.

Come, come back to the everlasting garden,

To that green heaven, and the blue heaven above.

Come back to the time when time brought no

And love was unconscious, knowing not love.



It was a day

All blue and lifting white,

When I went into the fields with Frank

To fly his kite.

The fields were aged, bare,
Shut between houses everywhere.
All the way there

The wind tugged at the kite to take it
Untethered, toss and break it ;
But Frank held fast, and I
Walked with him admiringly ;
In his light brave and fine
How bright was mine \


We tailed the kite

While the wind flapped its purple face
And yellow head.
Frank's yellow head
Was scarcely higher, and not so bright.
' Let go ! ' he cried, and I let go
And watched the kite
Swaying and rising so
That I was rooted to the place,
Watching the kite
Rise into the blue,
Lifting its head against the white,
Against the sun,
Against the height
That far-off, farther drew ;
Shivering there
In that fine air

As we below shivered with delight
And fear.

- There it floated

Among the birds and clouds at ease
Of others all unnoted,
Swimming above the ranked stiff trees.
And I lay down, looking up at the sky,
The clouds and birds that floated
By others still unnoted,
And that swaying kite
Specking the light :
Looking up at the sky,
The birds and clouds that drew
Nearer, leaving the blue,
Stooping, and then brushing me,
With such tenderness touching me
That I had still lain there
In those fields bare,
Forgetting the kite ;
For every cloud was now a kite
Streaming with light.





A lover breeze to the roses pleaded,

Failed and faltered, took heart and advanced ;
Up over the peaches, unimpeded,

A great Red Admiral ducked and danced ;
But the boy with the book saw not, nor heeded,

Reading entranced entranced !

He read, nor knew that the fat bees bumbled ;

He woke no whit to the tea-bell's touch,
The browny pigeons that wheeled and tumbled

(For how should a pirate reck of such ?).
He read, and the flaming flower-beds crumbled,

At tap of the sea-cook's crutch !

And lo, there leapt for him dolphins running
The peacock seas of the buccaneer,

Long, savage reefs where the seals lay sunning,
The curve of canvas, the creak of gear ;

For ever the Master's wondrous cunning
Lent him of wizard lear !

But lost are the garden days of leisure,
Lost with their wide-eyed ten-year-old,

Yet if you'd move to a by-gone measure,
Or shape your heart to an ancient mould,

Maroons and schooners and buried treasure
Wrought on a page of gold

Then take the book in the dingy binding,
Still the shadows come, bearded, great,

And swaggering files of sea-thieves winding
Back, with their ruffling cut-throat gait,

Reclaim an hour when we first went finding
Pieces of Eight of Eight.




When I was naughty an' sent up to bed,
And wouldn't go up I was growing, I said,
Too big to be sent Mother jus* shook her head ;
It's cur'ous, she didn't believe that I was,
And didn't do like what I thought she would,

She sent me upstairs to bed.

When I was naughty an' sent up to bed,
And somehow I cried on the stairway an' said
I was only jus' little, then Mother, instead,

Came suddenly to me with arms open wide ;

Her eyes were all shiny ; ' Jus' little,' she cried,
An' carried me down from bed.




As soon as I'm in bed at night
And snugly settled down,
The little girl I am by day
Goes very suddenly away,
And then I'm Mrs. Brown.

: I have a family of six,
And all of them have names,
The girls are Joyce and Nancy Maud.
The boys are Marmaduke and Claude
And Percival and James.

We have a house with twenty rooms
A mile away from town ;
I think it's good for girls and boys
To be allowed to make a noise-
And so does Mr Brown.


We do the most exciting things,
Enough to make you creep ;
And on and on and on we go
I sometimes wonder if I know
When I have gone to sleep.




Four alders guard a bridge of planks
And waveless waters filmed with brown,
A rugged lawn's uneven banks
Slope gently down,
And there, still chafing at the chain
That girds his slim pathetic throat,
They've picketed our friend again
The'Baby Goat.

Treading alone the watered vale,
Betsey and I, beside the marsh
Often we linger to bewail
His durance harsh ;
What plaints allure my baby's feet,
What tethered struggles claim her sighs,
What shrill protestant whinnies greet
Her long good-byes.

Once we repassed the lonely ground
Below the alders where he feeds
And spied his stunted horns girt round
With flow'ring weeds,
Two merry wenches and a child
Caressed his grey ill-fitting coat
And, lolling in the sedge, beguiled
The Baby Goat.

Now, for long days companionless,
His soft blunt nose, his agate eyes,
His raised remonstrant brows express
The sad surprise


Wherewith the desolate green waste
O'erloads his heart who at the edge
Of stagnant waters kneels to taste
The thankless sedge.

His Mother is his chiefest lack
Who in some heathy upland place
Tidied his sturdy socks of black
And licked his face ;
He turns to see us saunter by
The level highway hand-in-nand
I think the Baby Goat knows why
We understand.


Yourself in bed

(My lovely Drowsy-head)

Your garments lie like petals shed

Upon the floor ,

Whose carpet is strewn o'er

With little things that late you wore.

For the morrow's wear

I fold them neat and fair

And lay them on the nursery chair ;

And round them lie

Airs of the hours that die

With all their stored-up fragrancy.

As a flower might

Give out to the cool night

The warmth it drank in day-long light,

So wool and lawn

From your soft skin withdrawn

(Whereon they were assumed at dawn)

Breathe the spent mood,

Lost act and attitude,

Of the small sweetness they endued.


Ere all turn cold

No garment that I hold

But shakes a vision from its fold

Of little feet

That vainly would be fleet,

Tangled about with meadow-sweet,

And of bent knees

When Betsey kneeling sees,

In the parched hedgerow, strawberries.

Such things I see

Folding your clothes, which be

Weeds of the dead day's comedy.

The while I pray

Your part may be alway

So simple and so good to play,

And do desire

Your life may still respire

Such sweetness as your cast attire.


'Twas bought in Bruges, the shop was poor,
One read ' Au Bebe ' flourished o'er
The ancient lintel ; to that door
No English guinea
Had ever come nor travelled gold
Gladdened her gaze, that woman old,
Who tottered from the gloom and sold
The Belgian ' pinny.'

I mind me choosing in the place

A cap with frills of little lace ;

' That too,' I said, ' shall come to grace

My Small and Sweet.'

Prim in her pinafore arrayed

I pictured Betsey while I strayed

Where, all the time, the proud bells played

Above the street.


Now, Betsey, on the roguish back
That stalks around the sunny stack
The turkey's truculence or the track
Of stable cats

The Belgian ' pinny ' flaunts its hue.
Still the same stripe of white and blue
As when 'twas dyed, no doubt for you,
In Flemish vats.

Still of its old lost life it tells

And alien provenance, there are spells

And glamour of the Town of Bells

About it shed ;

And when my Belgian Betsey climbs

My knee I've heard a hundred times

The clash and ripple of the chimes

Around her head,

As though the child herself did play

Without some white estaminet

Shuttered and silent where, all day

T n sun and shower,

Two little lions with stone grins

Hold 'scutcheons under paws and chins

And their divine appellant dins

The honoured hour.



(Of ' Nursery Lays of Nursery Days ')

For you who can never be lost or dead,

Baby o' mine, Baby o' mine,

I sing of the old red window- seat,

I sing of the friends of the friendly street,

I sing of the tramp of their passing feet

And the things that the sound of them said.


For, surely, wherever you are to-day,

Baby o' mine, Baby o' mine,

Though you sail your ship on the crystal sea,

Though you ride on the wind's back, wild and


Though you find the fairies, you'll sometimes be
A little bit tired of play.

You'll tire, though you romp in the farthest sky,

Baby o' mine, Baby o' mine ;

Who should know you and I not know,

You who are mine from the long ago,

Mine till the rivers shall cease to flow

And the ocean of time run dry ?

You'll tire and you'll call me creation through,

Baby o' mine, Baby o' mine,

From the hills where the lights of Someday gleam,

Over the spaces that only seem,

And down in the depths of the deepmost dream

You'll ask me to sing to you.

And I'll sing, whilst I hold you upon my knee,

Baby o' mine, Baby o' mine,

Things you'd have heard in the Might Have Been,

Things you'd have thought and loved and seen,

I've written them out all fair and clean,

I'll sing them for you and me.




You go singing through my garden on little

dancing feet,
Crying ' Mary, Mary, Mary,' with laughter shrill

and sweet ;
And the lily bud grows paler and the passion

flower flames,
As light upon the wandering breeze you toss the

name of names.


When I was but a tiny child, they chose for me

a saint,
Fulfilled of Christian charity and heavenly

restraint ;
But you have called me Mary, and oh ! I joy

to hear
The name of God's own Mother come so gaily

on the air.

What though my arms be empty, and hers for

ever press
The Eternal Child who touches you with such

divine caress,
Here's another love, Felicity, and oh, sweetheart,

drink deep,
That you may laugh more easily, and I forget

to weep.

For you have called me Mary, making bitter

waters sweet,

Oh little soul of happiness, oh little dancing feet ;
And I grow bold in honour, that all my spirit

As light upon the wandering breeze you toss the

name of names.




In Switzerland one idle day,
As on the grass at noon we lay,
Came a grave peasant child and stood
Watching the strangers eat their food.
And what we offered her she took
In silence, with her quiet look,
And when we rose to go, content
Without a word of thanks she went.


Another day in sleet and rain
I chose the meadow path again,
And partly turning chanced to see
My little guest-friend watching me
With eyes half hidden by her hair,
Blowing me kisses, unaware
That I had seen, and still she wore
The same grave aspect as before.

And some recall for heart's delight
A sunrise, some a snowy height,
And I a little child who stands
And gravely kisses both her hands.




We wandered through the wooded vales

A fairy child and I ;
And when she asked me where was Heaven,

I said, ! In yonder sky.'

' Ah, yes ! the sky is blue,' she said,

' And looks so still and pure ;
And see ! this violet is blue

It came from heaven for sure.'

I answered, ' Yes, it came from Heaven ' ;

And tenderly she knelt
To kiss the floweret's lips, that clung

To hers as though they felt.

She saw a swallow sweep along,

And ' That is blue,' she said,
' And came from Heaven ' ; and wished the bird

Had not so swiftly fled.

And then we caught a glimpse through trees

Of ocean blue and clear,
A part of Heaven and O, how large !

How good that it was near !

' Why, surely there must be/ she said
' As much on earth as there.

The flower, the bird, the ocean too,
Are blue and just as fair.'

I answered, ' Yes,' and hoped for her
That Earth had much of Heaven,

And blessed the simple faith of this
Sweet goldylocks of seven.

A streamlet crept among the ferns
('Twas scarce a step across),

And there she bent and softly stroked
The creeping, silken moss.

The pool revealed her floweret face :
She saw her eyes were blue ;

And soon in wistful wonder asked

' My eyes are they Heaven too ? '

She stole to me, and when I said,
' Yes, all things pure and fair,'

She took my hand and looked at me
Through strays of golden hair.

' And yours are blue/ she softly said,
' So blue ; and I am glad/

But I could only kiss her lips,
And hide that I was sad.



.Our little queen of dreams,
Our image of delight,
Which whitens east and gleams
And beckons from the height,
Takes on her human form is here in mortal sight.


We two have loved her long,
Have known her eyes for years ;
We worshipped her with song
The spirit only hears,

And now she comes to us new-washed with blood
and tears.

Her radiant self she veils
With vesture meet for earth.
And, knowing all, inhales
The lethal air of birth,

And wakes to restless dreams of misery and
mirth. . . .

What gift is ours to give,
What truth is ours to teach
That she may learn to live
With joy within her reach ?

We can but let her learn the sound of human
speech. . . .

Her kinship she will know
With beast and rock and tree,
Wherever she may go
The sky her home will be,

The winds will be her mates, her crooning nurse
the sea.



Have you ever been down to my countree

Where the trees are green and tall ?
The days are long and the heavens arc high,

But the people there are small.
There is no work there ; it is always play ;

The sun is sweet in the morn ;
But a thousand dark things walk at night

In the land where I was born.


Have you ever been down to my countree

Where the birds made happy spring ?
The parrots screamed from the honey-trees,

And the jays hopped chattering.
Strange were the ways of the water-birds

In the brown swamps, night and morn ;
I knew the roads they had in the reeds

In the land where I was born.

Have you ever been down to my countree ?

Have you ridden the horses there ?
They had silver manes, and we made them

And plunge and gallop and rear.
We were knights of the olden time,

When the old chain-mail was worn :
The swords would flash and the helmets

In the land where I was born.

Have you ever been down to my countree ?

It was full of smiling queens :
They had flaxen hair, they were white and


But they never reached their teens.
Their shoes were small and their dreams were


Wonderful frocks were worn ;
But the queens all strayed from the place we

In the land where I was born.

I know you have been to my countree

Though I never saw you there ;
I know you have loved all things I have

Flowery, sweet and fair.
The days were long, it was always play ;

But we, we were tired and worn ;
They could not welcome us back again

To the land where I was born.





Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air :
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.






1 1 These lines breathe the very spirit of piety and
the perfection of motherhood. Swinburne said
of them ' unspeakable in their loveliness they
seem to my poor judgment.'

221 have found it beyond my powers to modernise
the spelling in this tender little poem. It is one
of the lyrics in The Garland of Laurel, which
Skelton wrote for his patroness the Countess of
Surrey, mother of Henry Howard the poet, about
1520. Nepte is a kind of calamint : ieloffer =
gillyflower: ewwrf=enewed : sterre=stnr:
morow = morning : make you sure assure you.

3 3 A contribution of Edwardes* own to The Paradise

of Dainty Devices, a popular Elizabethan an-
thology of which he was the collector.
4 From the Shepheard's Calendar December.

4 5 Faerie Queene, I. XII. vil.

5 7 Known as The Corentry Carol. It is the second

of three songs belonging to the Pageant of the
Shearmen and Taylors' Company in Coventry.
the subject of which was the Birth of Christ and
Offering of the Magi, with the Flight into Egypt
and Murder of the Innocents. The first and
third of the songs, telling of the shining of the
Star and the coming of the Herald Angels, were
sung by the Shepherds, the second (Lully,
lullay, thou little tiny child) was sung by the
Women, the mothers of the Innocents. Cf.
Sharp's Pageants or Dramatic Mysteries anciently
performed at Corentry. Coventry : MDCCCXXV.
C 9 Robert Southwell was trained at Douai and Paris,
and entered the Society of Jesus in 1578. He
was thirteen times tortured on the rack by the
Government of Elizabeth and put to death in
1595. This beautiful and fervent poem a
special favourite of Ben Jonson's was probably
written during his imprisonment.

7 10 Winter's Tale, i. 2.

8 11 Midsummer Night's Dream, iii. 2, and As You

Like It, i. 3.



8 12 King John, iii. 4.
10 13 King Richard III. iv. 3.

12 16 The third of the seven sonnets called La Corona,

each of which (after the first) begins with the last
line of the preceding sonnet.

17 These lines are the epitaph in Hawsted Church in
Suffolk of Dorothy Drury, daughter of Sir Robert
Drury and niece of Francis Bacon. They have
always been attributed to Donne, who wrote a
Funeral Elegy upon her sister Elizabeth Drury,
who died aged fifteen.

13 18 From A Pindaric Ode, to the immortal memory and

friendship of that noble pair, Sir Lucius Gary and
Sir H. M orison. Ben Jonson had unusual sym-
pathy with children. His little known elegy
Eupheme or The Faire Fame, left to posteritie of
that truly-noble Lady, the Lady Venetia Digby, late
wife of Sir Kenelme Digby, Knight : a gentleman
absolute in all numbers, which consists of ' ten
pieces,' begins with the dedication of her cradle.
I quote two stanzas from it :

For, though that rattles, timbrels, toyes,
Take little infants with their noyse,
As prop 'rest gifts to girles and boyes,

Of light expense ;

Their corrals, whistles, and prime coates,
Their painted maskes, their paper boates,
With sayles of silke, as the first notes

Surprise their sense.

14 21 The rich humanity and breadth of outlook which

distinguished Richard Corbet, Bishop of Oxford
and then of Norwich, are well displayed in this
little poem. Another of Corbet's poems is Fare-
well rewards and fairies.

15 23 These two sonnets are from a little group of

scriptural poems, Floures of Sion. Drummond
is not the only Elizabethan who owed much to
Italian example, but he developed a form of his
own put of the technique he inherited ; his
technical perfection is second only to that of
Shakespeare, Sidney and Spenser, and his calm
and spiritual exaltation are his own. If his
friend Ben Jonson thought his poems ' smelled
too much of the schooles,' to Charles Lamb his
name carried ' a perfume i.n the mention,' and
had ' a finer relish ' (Lamb confessed) ' than that
of Milton or of Shakespeare,' and Palgrave has
placed his fine ode Phoebus, arise ! at the very
threshold of the original Golden Treasury.

16 24 George Wither fought on both sides during the

Civil War, and though he was made a Major-


General by Cromwell, he earned by his incon-
stancy the contempt and reproach of Dryden and
lesser partisans of the Restoration. He was
' discovered ' by Charles Lamb, and highly
praised by Swinburne. Prpf. Saintsbury says of
him, ' if genuine pastoral sweetness the sense of
the country and of country joys is anywhere in
English poetry, it is in Wither, who has much

20 27 Handsell = New Year's gift, or earnest-money in

token of a new beginning. There is a peculiar
delicacy in Herrick's child poems, and attention
is here drawn to his Christmas Caroll, sung to the
King in the Presence at White-Hall, which con-
tains the exquisite line

The Darling of the World is come.

21 29 Padc?ocks = frogs.

22 33 Behither ill, behither is a preposition, meaning

' short of,' ' barring,' ' save.' The original and
earlier use of the word was of space, ' on this
side of.'

23 34 Daughter of George Villiers, Duke of Bucking-


24 37 Strode was chaplain to Richard Corbet, Bishop of

Oxford whose lines to his son Vincent appear in
this volunie. Strode's poems were collected from
anthologies and manuscripts, and published by
Bertram Dobell in 1907. Little Mistress Mary
Prideaux was a daughter of Dr. John Prideaux,
Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, and Bishop of
Worcester. 'There is an elegy by William
Browne on another daughter, Anne, who died
at the age of six.

26 38 This exquisitely simple poem was reprinted from

Emily Taylor's Flowers and Fruits from Old
English Gardens in the first edition of Beeching's
Lyra Sacra, but omitted from the second. It is
clearly the work of a scholar. ' Nevermore ' was
probably one word as here printed. Protests
used to be made against ' evermore ' as an
Americanism. But some so-called Americanisms
are in truth English expressions, which were
taken westwards in the seventeenth century.

27 39 These touching lines are taken from a brass in

the chancel of Reigate Parish Church. The in-
scription above them is as follows :

' Here lyeth interred the body of Anne
Worly, the daughter of William Worly,
Esq., and of Alice his wife, who departed
this life the 3d. day of September Anno
1653 being about the age of 8 yeares.'



29 42 I have omitted the second, third and fourth
stanzas, which seem rather overweighted with
classical conceits.

31 43 This beautiful hymn seems to me to be superior
even to Milton's, perhaps because of its tender-

33 44 It may be of interest to contrast the simplicity
and directness of these lines with Crashaw's poem
upon the birth of Princess Elizabeth, daughter
of King Charles I. :

Rich, liberal Heaven, what, hath your treasure


Of such bright angels, that you give us more ?
Witness this map of beauty ; every part
Of which doth show the quintessence of art.
See ! nothing's vulgar, every atom here
Speaks the great wisdom of th' Artificer.
Poor earth hath not enough perfection,
To shadow forth th' admired paragon.
Those sparkling twins of light should I now


Rich diamonds, set in a pure silver foil ;
Or call her cheek a bed of new-blown roses ;
And say that ivory her front composes ;
Or should I say, that with a scarlet wave
Those plump soft rubies had been dressed so

brave ;

Or that the dying lily did bestow
Upon her neck the whitest of his snow ;
Or that the purple violets did lace
That hand of milky down : all these are base ;
Her glories I should dim with things so gross,
And foul the clear text with a muddy gloss.

35 45 Marvell, friend of Milton, tutor to Fairfax'
daughter, secretary to the embassy at Con-
stantinople, became Member for his native city
of Hull just before the Restoration. He was like
Milton in that his sweetness and intense love of
beauty differentiated him from the bulk of the
Puritans. This poem is a good example of his
wit and delicacy, and also shows that he pos-
sessed that rare mystical feeling for flowers
which, in The Nymph complaining for the death of
her /earn, he displays for animals.

37 46 These poems of the poet-physician Vaughan

should be compared with Thomas Traherne's, and
with Wordsworth's great ode. A copy of Silex
Scintillftns was in Wordsworth's library.
Vaughan is the first of our poets to reveal the

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Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 17 of 20)