L. S. (Leonard Southerden) Wood.

A book of English verse on infancy and childhood online

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unseen and the eternal in childhood.

38 47 ' Those white designs which children drive ' : the



very vowel sounds of this splendid line enhance
the sense of purity and brightness, as they do in
the words ' And kings to the brightness of thy
rising.' A similar effect is achieved, less forcibly,
in the two opening lines of the preceding poem,
The Retreat.


' Must live twice that would God's face see '
cf. St. John iii. 3.

39 49 These charniingly playful lines are from Bri-

tannia Rediviva. The ' venerable infant ' was
destined to become the Old Pretender.

40 50 This poem, together with one Upon Young Mr.

Rogers of Gloucestershire, was first published in
1704, after Dryden's death. Its history is un-
known, but probably its subject is the same
' Young Mr. Rogers,' thought to be a member of
the old family of Rogers of Dowdeswell, near
Cheltenham. In the shorter poem Dryden says
of him that he was ' his parent's only treasure,'
and that ' More moderate gifts might have
prolonged his date."

42 52 Thomas Traherne is one of the corner-stones of
our poetry on Infancy and Childhood. His
attitude towards childhood is extraordinarily
modern, and resembles that of his fellow-mystic
Blake and of Wordsworth. Perhaps his Cen-
turies of Meditations are even more remarkable
than his poems. I quote from them the prose
version of Wonder :

' All appeared new, and strange at first, inex-
pressibly rare and delightful and beautiful. . . .
My knowledge was Divine. . . . My very ignor-
ance was advantageous. I seemed as one
brought into the Estate of Innocence. All things
were spotless and pure and glorious : yea, and
infinitely mine, and joyful and precious. 1 knew
not that there were any sins, or complaints or
laws. I dreamed not of poverties, contentions
or vices. All tears and quarrels were hidden
from mine eyes. Everything was at rest, free
and immortal. I knew nothing of sickness or
death or rents or exaction, either for tribute or
bread. . . . All Time was Eternity, and a per-
petual Sabbath. Is it not strange, that an infant
should be hen- of the whole World, and see those
mysteries which the books of the learned never
unfold ?

' The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which
never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I
thought it had stood from everlasting to ever-
lasting. The dust and stones of the street were



as precious as gold : the gates were at first the
end of the world. . . . The Men ! O what
venerable and reverend creatures did the aged
seem ! Immortal Cherubims ! And young men
glittering and sparkling Angels, and maids
strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty ! Boys
and girls tumbling in the street, and playing,
were moving jewels. I knew not that they were
born or should die ; but all things abided eter-
nally as they were in their proper places. . . .
The skies were mine, and so were the sun and
moon and stars, and all the World was mine : and
I the only spectator and enjoyer of it. I knew
no churlish proprieties, nor bounds, nor divisions :
but all proprieties and divisions were mine : all
treasures and the possessors of them.' (Cen-
turies of Meditations : Third Century, 2 and 3.)
Traherne was the son of a shoemaker of Hereford,
and was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford.
He was for seven years chaplain to Sir O. Bridg-
man, Lord Keeper under the Cabal. The
romance of the discovery of his MS. in 1896-7 is
told in Bertram Dobell's Introduction to Tra-
herne's Poetical Works. To .Dobell's executors
acknowledgment is here made for the text used.

46 55 It is worth while to contrast the first four lines

of this poem with Mrs. Meynell's The Shepherdess
(No. 288) and to note the' change that lias taken
place in our way of regarding childhood.

47 56 John Norris held the parsonage of Bemerton,

near Salisbury, which had formerly been George
Herbert's. His poems passed through ten
editions between 1684 and 1730.

49 58 The distance traversed since Ambrose Phillips,
friend of Addison, wrote, is seen from the fact
that Phillips was dubbed ' Namby-Pamby ' by
Henry Carey, the dramatist, for writing of
children. Carey has thus done a disservice to
the language which is hardly requited by his fine
song Sully in our Alley.

51 60 Palgrave wrote of this poem : ' The admirable

author of this hymn almost apologised for pub-
lishing it. Yet few child-pictures have been
drawn in words or colours of more perfect

52 61 This beautiful hymn was composed at Byrom's

home by Manchester in 1 745 as a Christmas carol
for his little daughter Dolly ' for her, and for
no one else.' The version in Hymns Ancient and
Modern is abridged to 36 lines.

54 63 Whitehead became Poet Laureate, in succession
to Colly Cibber, on Gray refusing the appointment.



55 64 I have omitted lines 55-94 the formidable cata-
logue of ' The Ministers of human fate.'

57 65 Written in 1758 at the request of Dr. Thomas
Wharton, Gray's old schoolfellow and lifelong
friend, upon his then only son, who died in
infancy. Later Gray had affectionate pet-
names for Wharton 's other children.

66 The most poignantly direct and moving of all

Cowper's poems. Lines 21-87 of the poem are
printed here. The beautiful simile, which occurs
almost unnoticed in The Progress of Errour,
' Patient of contradiction as a child,'
is of itself sufficient to prove Cowper's sympathy
with childhood.

59 67 From Tirocinium : or a Review of Schools : lines


60 68 Ibid, lines 296-313. The irony of these lines

occurring in a poem written to commend private
tuition at home has often been noticed.

69 From Infancy a Fragment in Vol. IV. of the

eight-volume edition of Crabbe's works. Crabbe
tells the story of his own boyhood in Tales of the
Hall, Book IV. lines specially beloved by
Cardinal Newman.

61 70 Blake reaches the note sounded by Traherne and

goes beyond it. His lyrics have in them an
almost unearthly music, and to him we owe some
of the finest metaphors in the language (e.g.
Tiger, tiger burning bright). Swinburne called
Blake's Auguries of Innocence ' a series of such
divine epigrams as Angels might be imagined to
dictate, by way of a lesson for repetition, to little
children.' That- his poems were not better
known in his lifetime was due in part to his
method of publication. His artist soul would not
permit them to be printed at all. They were
engraved upon copper plates by himself and his
wife a long and laborious process and copies
were struck off as required. Of the Songs of
Innocence and Songs of Experience, his best-
known works, from which these poems are taken,
hardly more than twenty copies are known to

68 79 From The Cotter's Saturday Night. Stacher =
stagger : flichterin = fluttering : ingle fire or

80 From The Pleasures of Memory, 1792. Rogers'

work is polished and fastidious rather than
inspired. He was nine years in writing the
Pleasures of Memory. He was acquainted with
every illustrious Englishman for half a century,
and was a generous patron of artists and authors.




70 82 The opening lines of Good Tidings : or, News
from the Farm a poem written to celebrate
Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination as a
safeguard against small-pox.

72 84 Wordsworth is the Laureate of Childhood as he
is, and, it may be, because he is, the poet of
Nature. For there is a connection. He not
only felt the beauty of nature, but felt that
nature reveals truths beyond man's vision as a
glass through which may be caught vistas of the
unseen. Man's attitude to nature was therefore
a matter of vital moment. Children see nature
aright. Hence the importance of childhood.
The child is father to the man, and the childish
attitude must be recovered its trustful accept-
ance, its pure emotion, its imagination, its uncon-
sciousness and its joy. Wordsworth laid down
no rule of life ; that is no part of the poet's
function. But he certainly felt he had a message
for mankind, as is proved by his firm refusal to
alter either his style or his message during all
those years when his work was not only neglected
. but ridiculed. It seems incredible to-day that, in
his fiftieth year, the whole of his returns from ' the
writing trade ' had not amounted to seven score
pounds and very sad that his sister could write
of him, in inviting at his request a friend's
criticism, ' Do not fear to give him pain. He is
far too much accustomed to be abused to receive
pain from it (at least as far as he himself is con-
cerned).' His own attitude was one of dignified
acceptance. He neither made any rejoinder nor
altered his ways. 'Trouble not yourself,' he
wrote to another friend in 1807, ' upon their
present reception. Of what moment is that with
what, I trust, is their destiny ? to console the
afflicted, to add sunshine to daylight, by making
the happy happier ; to teach the young and
gracious of every age to see, to think, and feel,
and, therefore, "to become more actively and
securely virtuous.' Allusions to Wordsworth's
children occur frequently in his poetry. Not only
of Michael but of himself it was true that
' a child, more than all other gifts,
Brings hope with it, and forward looking


And stirrings of inquietude.'
Dora is the infant in The Kitten and the Falling
Leaves (No. 89). Loving she is, and tractable, though
wild is a picture of Catherine. The sonnet Sur-
prised by joy, impatient as the rvind (No. 95) was



inspired by her memory. She and her brother
Thomas diedin 1812. Wordsworth's grief remained
with him through life. His friend Aubrey de Vere
relates, ' Referring once to two young children
of his who had died about forty years previously,
he described the details of their illnesses with an
exactness and impetuosity of troubled excite-
ment, such as might have been expected if the
bereavement had taken place but a few weeks
before.' After their death he found it absolutely
necessary to move away from the Parsonage of
Grasmere, which stands close by the churchyard,
if he was to recover ' that tranquillity which it
is our duty to aim at ' and so it was that, in the
spring of 1813, the Wordsworths settled at Rydal

72 85 Written at Goslar in 1798. ' It was founded on
a circumstance told me by my sister, of a little
girl who, not far from Halifax, in Yorkshire, was
bewildered in a snowstorm. Her footsteps were
tracked by her parents to the middle of the lock
of a canal, and no other vestige of her, back-
ward or forward, could be traced. The body,
however, was found in the canal.'

74 8C Wordsworth met the child who is the heroine of
this poem in 1793 within the area of Goodrich
Castle on the Wye. In 1841 he revisited the
place, but was unable to find in the neighbouring
hamlet any trace of his little friend. The poem
was written in 1798. W T ordsworth relates that
he composed it walking to and fro in the grove
at Alfoxden ' the last stanza first, having begun
with the last line.'

76 87 These lines show prophetic insight into the char-

acter of Hartley Coleridge, who did, through life,
preserve ' A young lamb's heart amid the full-
grown flocks.' The next year Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, writing to his friend Mr. Thomas Pcple,
unconsciously quoted from them : ' Hartley is a
strange, strange boy, exquisitely wild, an utter
visionary ; like the moon among thin clouds, he
moves in a circle of light of his own making.'
John Brown, author of Rab and his Friends,
quotes part of the poem in his little essay ' Queen
Mary's Child-Garden ' in Uorce Subsecirce.

77 88 Excursion, iv. 1132.

78 89 See note on No. 84 above.

79 90 These lines are repeated, with a few changes of

words and punctuation, in the Fifth Book of
The Prelude.

80 91 Excursion, viii. 302.

83 94 One of Wordsworth's clearest recollections cf his



mother, who died when he was eight, was of her
' pinning a nosegay to his breast when he was
going to say the catechism in the church, as was
customary before Easter.'

83 95 See note on No. 84 above.

86 97 From The Prelude, Book I. The Prelude was
planned at Goslar in 1798 and finished in 1805,
though it was not published till after Words-
worth's death. It is dedicated to Coleridge.
Wordsworth's early childhood was spent between
Cockermouth and Penrith till at the age of eight
he went to school at Hawkshead. The scenes of
these incidents can therefore easily be traced.
It was rowing out upon Esthwaite that he beheld
the terrifying peak of Wetherlam. Esthwaite
Water was also the scene of the skating. ' One
summer evening (led by her) ' : Aer = Nature.

90 98 Nothing equal in inspiration to this great Ode
had appeared in English poetry since Lycidas
was published in 1637.

95 1. 19. Hence in a season of calm weather.

Wordsworth was to recover this mood once more
in his majestic Evening Ode -the ode inspired
by a sunset of extraordinary splendour and
beauty in 1818.

Oh. let thy grace remind me of the light
Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored ;
Which, at this moment, on my waking sight
Appears to shine, by miracle restored !
My soul, though yet confined to earth,
Rejoices in a second birth ;
Tis past, the visionary splendour fades ;
And night approaches with her shades.

97 101 From the Introduction to the First Canto of

Marmion. The Introduction to Canto Third
gives many autobiographical details of Scott's
own childhood.

98 102 From Christabel. Coleridge's best poetical work

was done before the end of 1800, when the second
part of Christabel was written. The dates of the
poems here printed are 1800, 1797, 1829, 1798,
(?) 1815, 1799. As we know from his school-
fellow Charles Lamb, Coleridge was a remarkably
precocious boy, but it is difficult to believe his
own words about himself as a child : ' Alas !
I had all the simplicity, all the docility of the
little child, but none of the child's habits. I
never thought as a child never had the language
of a child.'
]04 109 The author of Dream Children holds a place in



the Temple of Childhood higher even than that
to which the merit of these poems entitles him.

106 112 Lander's elegance, colour, romantic suggestion,
and gift for achieving statuesque effects are well
seen in these lovely little poems. lanthe was
Sophia Jane Swift, a friend of his early days in
Wales. He saw her again more than forty years
later as the Countess de Molande' at Bath, where
she was staying with her grandchildren. She
died in 1851. Few names have been more
musically sung.

108 116 Lander's volcanic temperament is seen at its
best in his relations with his children, of whom
he was passionately fond. He was almost beside
himself during a visit to Naples when he learned
that they were ill, and in their games Babbo was
always their most gleeful playmate.

111 119 The poem On getting home the Picture of a Little

Girl Six Years Old, of which these are the con-
cluding lines, was inspired by a picture by
Eugenic Latilla in a shop window which Camp-
bell passed morning after morning on his way
from Lincoln's Inn Fields to the Literary Union,
until finally he could resist buying it no longer.

112 122 Peacock for forty years Chief Examiner of

Indian Correspondence under the East Indian
Company was the author of several novels in
which many of his best verses occur. His col-
lected works were published in 1875 with a
preface by Lord Houghton. Another of his
poems which touches the spirit of childhood very
tenderly is :

I play'd with you 'mid cowslips blowing
When I was six and you were four.

113 123 John Wilson was Professor of Moral Philosophy

at Edinburgh. For a time he owned the estate
of Elleray on Windermere, and was intimate with
Wordsworth. He was an eloquent critic, his best
papers being collected in 1842 and published
under the title of The Recreations of Christopher

114 124 Sir Aubrey de Vere Hunt (which name he

dropped in 1832) was born at Curragh Chase,
County Limerick. He was at Harrow with
Byron, Sir Robert Peel and B. W. Procter. This
sonnet is from A Song of Faith and other Poems,
which was dedicated to Wordsworth.
125 B. W. Procter better known as Barry Corn-
wall addressed these lines to his daughter
Adelaide Anne Procter, who had more than her
father's gifts as a poet. If Procter was one who



had ' the accomplishment of song ' rather than a
poet, Swinburne, who entered the circle of his
friends, was able to write thus of him at the end
of his long life :

Time takes them home that we loved, fair

names and famous.
To the soft long sleep, to the broad sweet

bosom of death ;
But the flower of their souls he shall take not

away to shame us,
Nor the lips lack song forever that now lack


115 127 Keble'in the Lyra Innocentium, first published in
1846, and in Miscellaneous Poems wrote much of
childhood. Many of his poems would have
gained in unity of idea and in level of excellence
had he pruned them. Nevertheless, if space
allowed, more of them would be included in this
collection, particularly The Sisters (' I mark'd
where vernal meads were bright ').

118 130 Dated June 1810. Little William Shelley died
at Rome.

120 133. Clare was born in a day-labourer's cottage at
134 Helpstone, near Peterborough. He obtained

some education by his own extra work as a
plough-boy, and saved up a shilling to buy a
copy of Thomson's Seasons. After publishing
two small volumes of verse and a brief space of
happy married life, his mind gave way and he
was confined in the Northampton County Asylum.
It was there, with only streets to look out upon,
that these poems were written. His mind con-
stantly recurred to the beloved scenes of his

121 135 Hartley Coleridge inherited a fair share of his

father's gifts as well as of his instability. His
poetry is largely self-delineative. After relin-
quishing his Fellowship at Oriel he lived chiefly
in the Lake District. His child poetry owes
much to the influence of Wordsworth.

122 137 Margaret's first birthday March 3rd, 1843.

127 143 From The Marriage of Tirzah and Ahirad, 1827.
The passage goes on :

In his adamantine eye
None might discern his agony ;
But they who had grown hoary next his side,
And read his stern dark face with deepest

Could trace strange meanings in that lip of

Which for one moment quivered and was still.



127 14-1 Born in a farmhouse in the lovely Vale of Black-

more which his poems celebrate, Barnes after
being a schoolmaster graduated at Cambridge
and was ordained at the age of 46. In 1862 he
became Rector of Winterbourne-Came near Dor-
chester. He first began to write with the object
of preserving the Dorsetshire dialect, but has
won a permanent place among English poets.
His lyrics, full of pathos and humour, unusually
varied and very perfect in form, are of the
sweetest and purest water. Their dialect
which is inseparable from them has militated
against their popularity, and it is true that their
language is a difficulty. But, as Matthew Arnold
has said of the language of Burns and Chaucer,
where the difficulty is greater, ' it is a difficulty
to be unhesitatingly accepted and overcome.'

128 145 Wehhnut=v;si\n\i^ : drashel = threshold.

Childhood, The Welshnut Tree, The Turnstile, The
Little Sister, The Motherless Child, The Slanten
Light o' Fall, are reprinted by permission of the
publishers, Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner
& Co., Ltd.

134 151 Sara Coleridge was the daughter of S. T. Cole-

ridge, and married Henry Nelson Coleridge, her
cousin, who edited her father's posthumous

135 152 It is pleasing to have even a passing reference to

Sir Joshua Reynolds in this volume. Palgrave
has a sonnet on Reynolds' Age of Innocence, but,
on grounds of which he himself would have
approved, it is not printed here to represent him.

139 154 It is to be doubted whether any other Public

Elementary School can boast such a school song
as this, which is the glory of St. Mark's, Morwen-

140 155 From Fifty Sonnets, most of them printed for the

first time in Nicoll and Wise's Literary Anecdotes
of the Nineteenth Century.

145 157 1. 1. Is there a word, or jest, or game : the classic

instance of a memory of childhood adding
poignancy to sadness, in Vergil's eighth Eclogue,
occurs to the mind lines beloved of Voltaire
and Macaulay :

Sepibus in nostris parvam te roscida mala
(Dux ego vester eram) vidi cum matre legen-

Alter ab undecimo turn me jam acceperat

annus ;
Jam fragiles poteram ab terra contingere ramos.

146 158 Reference must be made to two other perfect



word-pictures Mrs. Browning has drawn of little
children :

She looked such kinship to the flowers.

Was but a little taller
in A Child's Grave at Florence, and

Frank, obedient, waiting still

On the turnings of your will
in A portrait.

159 168 Charles Tennyson who later took the surname

Turner elder brother to Alfred, Lord Tennyson,
was born at Somersby in Lincolnshire. Most of
his life was passed as Vicar of Grasby. His
sonnets were published collectively in 1880.
They are idyllic, original, intensely human and
well worthy of study. The depth of his love of
children is nowhere more clearly seen than in the
last lines of the sonnet To a ' Tenting ' Boy,
where he finds a joy in what to many is a
nuisance :

' And, whilst I slowly climb
The grassy slope, with ready watch drawn out,
To meet thy constant question of the time,
Methinks I owe thee much, my little boy,
For this new duty, and its quiet joy.'

See note on Lord Rosslyn's Bed-time (No. 225).

160 170 ' Her little scroll of prayer ' is the extract from

the Book of the Dead, which was always placed in

the hands of the deceased.
162 173 From In Memoriam, xlv.
164 175 From Sea Dreams.

166 178 Palgrave has this note on Emmie in the Golden

Treasury : Second Series, ' " It should be remem-
bered that this is a little drama, in which the
Hospital Nurse, not the Poet, is supposed to be
speaking throughout. The two children, whose
story was published in a Parish Magazine, are the
only characters here described from actual life " :
(written on the authority of A. T., 1884).'

167 1. 2. OoraH is a drug that paralyses the nerves of

motion, but does not affect those of sensation.

170 179 These lines and the song following (No. 180) are
taken from The Princess.

172 182 Henry Alford was Dean of Canterbury from 1857
till his death. Besides editing the Greek Testa-
ment he was a diligent writer of verse. Two of
his best known hymns are Come, ye thankful
people, come, and Ten thousand times ten thousand.
183 Tirlin' = rapping ; ben = into the parlour (but
and ben = kitchen and parlour) ; singing grey
ihmms= purring; speldert = stretched ; tcauk-



rife= wakeful ; stowsre = a stout and healthy
child ; rin his /ane = run alone.

173 184 ' Alfred, dear friend !' Alfred Domett, son of one
of Nelson's captains and one of Browning's oldest
friends, spent thirty years of his life in New
Zealand, becoming a member of its Parliament
and from 1862 to 1863 its Prime Minister. He
was himself no mean poet.

176 186 Aubrey Thomas do Vere was the third son of Sir

Aubrey de Vere. He joined the Church of Rome.

177 188 There are frequent references to children in

George Eliot's (Mary Ann Cross') novels. Chap-
ter xiv. of Silas Marner ends : ' In old days there
were Angels who came and took men by the hand
and led them away from the City of Destruction.
We see no white-winged Angels now. But yet
men are led away from threatening destruction.
A hand is put into theirs, which leads them
gently forth towards a calm and bright land, so
that they look no more backward ; and the hand
that leads them may be a little child's.'
I am indebted to Messrs. Blackwood & Sons for
permission to reproduce these stanzas from
Brother and Sister.

182 192 Included by permission of the literary executors
of Walt Whitman and Messrs. Double-day, Page
& Co.

186 194 The ' Snowdrop Monument,' known also as the
' Sleeping Children,' stands at the east end of the
south choir-aisle in Lichfleld Cathedral. It bears
the inscription :

Sacred to the Memory of
Ellen Jane and Marianne

only children

of the late Revd. William Robinson
and Ellen Jane his wife.
Their affectionate mother,
in fond remembrance of their " Heav'n-lov r d

consigns their resemblances to this sanctuary,

in humble gratitude

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Online LibraryL. S. (Leonard Southerden) WoodA book of English verse on infancy and childhood → online text (page 18 of 20)