Poetry
(click on a title to read the poem)

The Rainbow         William Wordsworth
The Exposed Nest Robert Frost
A Child Mary Lamb
The Child Sara Coleridge
O sleep, my Babe Sara Coleridge
Babylon Robert Graves
The Song of Hiawatha  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Children's Hour Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Go forth to Life Samuel Longfellow
To a Child Five Years Old Nathaniel Cotton
Songs of Innocence William Blake
Ode for the birthday of the Duke of Gloucester Henry Purcell
A Prayer For My Daughter William Butler Yeats
The Cry of Children Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Boyhood William Allingham
If... Dorothy Law Nolte
Come Home Father Henry Clay Work
Unpublished poetry

What use to me the gold and silver hoard?
What use to me the gems most rich and rare?
Brighter by far---ay' bright beyond compare
The joys my children to my heart afford!

Yamagami no Okura




Listen to the mustn't, child,
listen to the don'ts,
listen to the shouldn'ts,
the impossibles, the won'ts,
listen to the never haves,
then listen close to me -
anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.

Shel Silverstein




You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be
I had a Mother who read to me.

Strickland Gillilan

 


 

The Cottager to her Infant

The days are cold, the nights are long,
The North wind sings a doleful song;
Then hush again upon my breast;
All merry things are now at rest,
Save thee, my pretty love!

Dorothy Wordsworth

 


 

O would my young, ye saw my breast,
And knew what thoughts there sadly rest,
Great was my pain when I you bred,
Great was my care when I you fed,
Long did I keep you soft and warm,

Anne Bradstreet
In Reference to Her Children, 23 June 1659

 


 

Lullaby, from The Princess

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come t thee soon;

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 


 

My Mother

Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?

Anne Taylor

 


 

To an Infant

Untaught, yet wise! mid all thy brief alarms
Thou closely clingest to thy Mother’s arms,
Nestling thy little face in that fond breast,
Whose anxious Heavings lull thee to thy rest!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 


 

Infant Sorrow

Struggling in thy fathers hands:
Striving against my swadling bands:
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mother’s breast.

William Blake

 


 

Whole Duty of Children

A child should always say what's true,
And speak when he is spoken to;
And behave mannerly at table,
At least as far as he is able.

Robert Louis Stevenson
A Child's Garden of Verses

 



The One Girl at the Boys' Party



When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys.  They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfording in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they'll plunge in the deep end, she'll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool.  When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she'll be doing her
wild multiplying, as the drops
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.

Sharon Olds


 

The Lost Child


Best of all, never to have been--
to stay a thumbnail sketch, rescind
the fetal pole and stop it all,
restitching the nucleic ball
that would divide, divide again,
into what you would have been.

Now autumn''s here, the yellow clouds
presaging ice, the mallards crowding
past the blinds where blind
men drink and drinking find
new fissures in their leather seams.
They are their own imperfect drams.


Lynne McMahon

 


 

Scenes from the Playroom


Now Lucy with her family of dolls
Disfigures Mother with an emery board,
While Charles, with match and rubbing alcohol,
Readies the struggling cat, for Chuck is bored.

The young ones pour more ink into the water
Through which the latest goldfish gamely swims,
Laughing, pointing at naked, neutered Father.
The toy chest is a Buchenwald of limbs.

Mother is so lovely: Father, so late.
The cook is off, yet dinner must go on.
With onions as her only cause for tears,
She hacks the red meat from the slippery bone,
Setting the table, where the children wait,
Her grinning babies, clean behind the ears.


R. S.Gwynn

 

Girl Help



Mild and slow and young,
She moves about the room,
And stirs the summer dust
With her wide broom.

In the warm, lofted air,
Soft lips together pressed,
Soft wispy hair,
She stops to rest,

And stops to breathe
Amid the summer hum,
The great white lilac bloom
Scented with days to com.

Janet Lewis

 

 


The Golf Links

The golf links lie so near the mill
 That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
 And see the men at play.


Sarah N. Gleghorn

 

 

And Nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee, saying:
"Here is a story-book
The Father has written for thee."
"Come, wander with me," she said,
"Into regions yet untrod;
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God."

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz

 

 


Your Gifts


You could not give me toys in those bleak days;
So when my playmates proudly boasted theirs,
You caught me to the shelter of your arms,
And taught me how to laugh away my tears.

 

DuBose Heyward

 


 

The Rainbow
William Wordsworth

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;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.


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The Exposed Nest

Robert Frost

YOU were forever finding some new play.
So when I saw you down on hands and knees
In the meadow, busy with the new-cut hay,
Trying, I thought, to set it up on end
I went to show you how to make it stay,
If that was your idea, against the breeze,
And, if you asked me, even help pretend
To make it root again and grow afresh.
But `twas no make-believe with you to-day,
Nor was the grass itself your real concern,
Though I found your hand full of wilted fern,
Steel-bright June-grass, and blackening heads of clover.
"Twas a nest full of young birds on the ground
The cutter-bar had just gone champing over
(Miraculously without tasting flesh)
And left defenseless to the heat and light.
You wanted to restore them to their right
Of something interposed between their sight
And too much world at once----could means be found.
The way the nest-full every time we stirred
Stood up to us as to a mother-bird
Whose coming home has been too long deferred,
Made me ask would the mother-bird return
And care for them in such a change of scene
And might our meddling make her more afraid.
That was a thing we could not wait to learn.
We saw the risk we took in doing good,
But dared not spare to do the best we could
Though harm should come of it; so built the screen
You had begun, and gave them back their shade.
All this to prove we cared. Why is there then
No more to tell? We turned to other things.
I haven't any memory---have you?---
Of ever coming to the place again
To see if the birds lived the first night through,
And so at last to learn to use their wings.

Greuze's Painting of a girl finding a dead bird

"Cosmic upheaval is not so moving as a little child
pondering the death of a sparrow in the corner
of a barn."    Thomas Savage "Her Side of It"

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A Child
Mary Lamb

Child's a plaything for an hour;
Its pretty tricks we try
For that or for a longer space---;
Then tire, and lay it by.

But I knew one that to itself
All seasons could control;
That would have mock'd the sense of pain
Out of a grievèd soul.

Thou straggler into loving arms,
Young climber-up of knees,
When I forget thy thousand ways
Then life and all shall cease.




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The Child
Sara Coleridge

See yon blithe child that dances in our sight!
Can gloomy shadows fall from one so bright?
    Fond mother, whence these fears?
While buoyantly he rushes o'er the lawn,
Dream not of clouds to stain his manhood's dawn,
    Nor dim that sight with tears.

No cloud he spies in brightly glowing hours,
But feels as if the newly vested bowers
     For him could never fade:
Too well we know that vernal pleasures fleet,
But having him, so gladsome, fair, and sweet,
     Our loss is overpaid.

Amid the balmiest flowers that earth can give
Some bitter drops distil, and all that live
     A mingled portion share;
But, while he learns these truths which we lament,
Such fortitude as ours will sure be sent,
    Such solace to his care.


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O sleep, my Babe
Sara Coleridge
 

O SLEEP, my babe, hear not the rippling wave,
Nor feel the breeze that round thee ling'ring strays
To drink thy balmy breath,
And sigh one long farewell.

Soon shall it mourn above thy wat'ry bed,
And whisper to me, on the wave-beat shore,
Deep murm'ring in reproach,
Thy sad untimely fate.

Ere those dear eyes had open'd on the light,
In vain to plead, thy coming life was sold,
O waken'd but to sleep,
Whence it can wake no more!

A thousand and a thousand silken leaves
The tufted beech unfolds in early spring,
All clad in tenderest green,
All of the self-same shape:

A thousand infant faces, soft and sweet,
Each year sends forth, yet every mother views
Her last not least beloved
Like its dear self alone.

No musing mind hath ever yet foreshaped
The face to-morrow's sun shall first reveal,
No heart hath e'er conceived
What love that face will bring.

O sleep, my babe, nor heed how mourns the gale
To part with thy soft locks and fragrant breath,
As when it deeply sighs
O'er autumn's latest bloom.

 


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Babylon
Robert Graves

The child alone a poet is:
Spring and Fairyland are his.
Truth and Reason show but dim,
And all's poetry with him.
Rhyme and music flow in plenty
For the lad of one-and-twenty,
But Spring for him is no more now
Than daisies to a munching cow;
Just a cheery pleasant season,
Daisy buds to live at ease on.
He's forgotten how he smiled
And shrieked at snowdrops when a child,
Or wept one evening secretly
For April's glorious misery.
Wisdom made him old and wary
Banishing the Lords of Faery.
Wisdom made a breach and battered
Babylon to bits: she scattered
To the hedges and ditches
All our nursery gnomes and witches.
Lob and Puck, poor frantic elves,
Drag their treasures from the shelves.
Jack the Giant-killer's gone,
Mother Goose and Oberon,
Bluebeard and King Solomon.
Robin, and Red Riding Hood
Take together to the wood,
And Sir Galahad lies hid
In a cave with Captain Kidd.
None of all the magic hosts,
None remain but a few ghosts
Of timorous heart, to linger on
Weeping for lost Babylon.

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The Children's Hour
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
  When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
   That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
  The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
  And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
  Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
  And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
  Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
  To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
  A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
  They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
  O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
  They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
  Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
  In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
  Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
  Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
  And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
  In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
  Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
   And moulder in dust away!

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A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.
 
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 

And Nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee, saying:
"Here is a story-book
The Father has written for thee."

"Come, wander with me," she said,
"Into regions yet untrod;
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz



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Go Forth to Life
Samuel Longfellow

Go forth to life, oh! child of Earth.
Still mindful of the heavenly birth;
Thou art not here for ease or sin,
But manhood's noble crown to win.
Though passion's fires are in thy soul
Thy spirit can their flames control;
Though tempers strong beset thy way,
Thy spirit is more strong than they.
Go on from innocence of youth
To manly pureness, manly truth;
God's angels are still near to save
And God himself doth help the brave.
Go forth to life, oh! child of earth,
Be worthy of thy heavenly birth,
For noble service thou art here;
Thy brothers help, thy God revere!

 
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To a Child Five Years Old
Nathaniel Cotton

Fairest flower, all flowers excelling,
   Which in Eden's garden grew;
Flowers of Eve's embowered dwelling
   Are, my fair one, types of you.
Mark, my Polly, how the roses
   Emulate thy damask cheek;
How the bud its sweets discloses--
   Buds thy opening bloom bespeak.
Lilies are, by plain direction,
   Emblems of a double kind;
Emblems of thy fair complexion,
   Emblems of thy fairer mind.
But ,dear girl, both flowers and beauty
   Blossom, fade, and die away;
Then pursue good sense and duty,
   Evergreens that ne'er decay



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Songs of Innocence
selected poems by William Blake


Infant Joy

"I have no name;
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!
Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!



Nurse's Song

WHEN the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.
"Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away,
Till the morning appears in the skies."
"No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep."
"Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed."
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed,
And all the hills echoèd.




A Cradle Song

SWEET dreams, form a shade
O'er my lovely infant's head!
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams!
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown!
Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child!
Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight!
Sweet smiles, mother's smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thine eyes!
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.
Sleep, sleep, happy child!
All creation slept and smiled.
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o'er thee doth mother weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee!
Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
Who became an infant small;
Infant smiles are his own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles



The Little Boy Lost

"Father, father, where are you going?
O do not walk so fast!
Speak, father, speak to your little boy,
Or else I shall be lost."
The night was dark, no father was there,
The child was wet with dew;
The mire was deep, and the child did weep,
And away the vapour flew.




The Little Boy Found

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wandering light,
Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
Appeared like his father, in white.
He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale,
The little boy weeping sought.


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Ode for the birthday of the Duke of Gloucester
Henry Purcell


Who can from joy refrain, this gay,
This pleasing, shining, wond'rous day?
For tho' the sun has all
His summer's glories on,
This day has brighter splenmours far
From a little rising star.

A prince of glorious race descended
At this happy Birth attended
With rosy, smiling hours, to show
He will golden days bestow.

The father brave as e'er was Dane
Whos thund'ring sword has thousands slain,
And made him o'er half Europe reign.

Of all the beauties, Saints and Queens
An Martyrs of her line,
She's great, let Fortune smil or frown,
Her virtues make all hearts her own:
She reigns without a crown.

Sound the trumet and beat the warlike drum;
The prince will be with laurels crown'd
Before his manhod comes.

Ah! how pleased he is and gay,
When the trumpet strikes his ear!
His hands like shaking lilies play
And catch at ev'ry spear.

If now he burns with noble flame,
When grown what will he do?
From Pole to Pole he'll stretch his fame
And all the world subdue.
Then Thames shall be the Queen of Tyber and Seine,
Of Nilus, of Indus, and Ganges
And, without foreign aid,
Our fleets be obey'd
Wherever the wide ocean ranges.


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A Prayer For My Daughter
William Butler Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind.
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wisc.
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.



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The Song of Hiawatha
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hiawatha's Childhood

Downward through the evening twilight,
In the days that are forgotten,
In the unremembered ages,
From the full moon fell Nokomis,
Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
She a wife, but not a mother.

She was sporting with her women,
Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,
When her rival the rejected,
Full of jealousy and hatred,
Cut the leafy swing asunder,
Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
And Nokomis fell affrighted
Downward through the evening twilight,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
On the prairie full of blossoms.
"See! a star falls!" said the people;
"From the sky a star is falling!"

There among the ferns and mosses,
There among the prairie lilies,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
In the moonlight and the starlight,
Fair Nokomis bore a daughter.
And she called her name Wenonah,
As the first-born of her daughters.
And the daughter of Nokomis
Grew up like the prairie lilies,
Grew a tall and slender maiden,
With the beauty of the moonlight,
With the beauty of the starlight.

And Nokomis warned her often,
Saying oft, and oft repeating,
"Oh, beware of Mudjekeewis,
Of the West-Wind, Mudjekeewis;
Listen not to what he tells you;
Lie not down upon the meadow,
Stoop not down among the lilies,
Lest the West-Wind come and harm you!"

But she heeded not the warning,
Heeded not those words of wisdom,
And the West-Wind came at evening,
Walking lightly o'er the prairie,
Whispering to the leaves and blossoms,
Bending low the flowers and grasses,
Found the beautiful Wenonah,
Lying there among the lilies,
Wooed her with his words of sweetness,
Wooed her with his soft caresses,
Till she bore a son in sorrow,
Bore a son of love and sorrow.

Thus was born my Hiawatha,
Thus was born the child of wonder;
But the daughter of Nokomis,
Hiawatha's gentle mother,
In her anguish died deserted
By the West-Wind, false and faithless,
By the heartless Mudjekeewis.

For her daughter long and loudly
Wailed and wept the sad Nokomis;
"Oh that I were dead!" she murmured,
"Oh that I were dead, as thou art!
No more work, and no more weeping,
Wahonowin! Wahonowin!"

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"

Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of Winter;
Showed the broad white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.

At the door on summer evenings
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
'Minne-wawa!" said the Pine-trees,
Mudway-aushka!" said the water.

Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
"Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"

Saw the moon rise from the water
Rippling, rounding from the water,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"Once a warrior, very angry,
Seized his grandmother, and threw her
Up into the sky at midnight;
Right against the moon he threw her;
'T is her body that you see there."

Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"'T is the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild-flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the prairie,
When on earth they fade and perish,
Blossom in that heaven above us."

When he heard the owls at midnight,
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
'What is that?" he cried in terror,
"What is that," he said, "Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other."

Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in Summer,
Where they hid themselves in Winter,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."

Of all beasts he learned the language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How the beavers built their lodges,
Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
Why the rabbit was so timid,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."

Then Iagoo, the great boaster,
He the marvellous story-teller,
He the traveller and the talker,
He the friend of old Nokomis,
Made a bow for Hiawatha;
From a branch of ash he made it,
From an oak-bough made the arrows,
Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers,
And the cord he made of deer-skin.

Then he said to Hiawatha:
"Go, my son, into the forest,
Where the red deer herd together,
Kill for us a famous roebuck,
Kill for us a deer with antlers!"

Forth into the forest straightway
All alone walked Hiawatha
Proudly, with his bow and arrows;
And the birds sang round him, o'er him,
"Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
Sang the robin, the Opechee,
Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa,
"Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"

Up the oak-tree, close beside him,
Sprang the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
In and out among the branches,
Coughed and chattered from the oak-tree,
Laughed, and said between his laughing,
"Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"

And the rabbit from his pathway
Leaped aside, and at a distance
Sat erect upon his haunches,
Half in fear and half in frolic,
Saying to the little hunter,
"Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"

But he heeded not, nor heard them,
For his thoughts were with the red deer;
On their tracks his eyes were fastened,
Leading downward to the river,
To the ford across the river,
And as one in slumber walked he.

Hidden in the alder-bushes,
There he waited till the deer came,
Till he saw two antlers lifted,
Saw two eyes look from the thicket,
Saw two nostrils point to windward,
And a deer came down the pathway,
Flecked with leafy light and shadow.
And his heart within him fluttered,
Trembled like the leaves above him,
Like the birch-leaf palpitated,
As the deer came down the pathway.

Then, upon one knee uprising,
Hiawatha aimed an arrow;
Scarce a twig moved with his motion,
Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled,
But the wary roebuck started,
Stamped with all his hoofs together,
Listened with one foot uplifted,
Leaped as if to meet the arrow;
Ah! the singing, fatal arrow,
Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him!

Dead he lay there in the forest,
By the ford across the river;
Beat his timid heart no longer,
But the heart of Hiawatha
Throbbed and shouted and exulted,
As he bore the red deer homeward,
And Iagoo and Nokomis
Hailed his coming with applauses.

From the red deer's hide Nokomis
Made a cloak for Hiawatha,
From the red deer's flesh Nokomis
Made a banquet to his honor.
All the village came and feasted,
All the guests praised Hiawatha,
Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha!
Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!

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The Cry of the Children

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Alas, alas, my children, why do you look upon me
- the Medea of Euripedes

Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers,
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows,
    The young birds are chirping in the nest,
The young fawns are playing with the shadows,
    The young flowers are blowing toward the west--
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
They are weeping bitterly!
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,
In the country of the free.

Do you question the young children in the sorrow
Why their tears are falling so?
The old man may weep for his tomorrow
Which is lost in Long Ago;
The old tree is leafless in the forest,
    The old year is ending in the frost,
The old wound, if stricken, is the sorest,
    The old hope is hardest to be lost;
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
Do you ask them why they stand
Weeping sore before the bosoms of their mothers,
In our happy Fatherland?

They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their looks are sad to see,
For the man's hoary anguish draws and presses
Down the cheeks of infancy;
"Your old earth," they say, "is very dreary,
    Our young feet," they say, "are very weak!
Few paces have we taken, yet are weary--
    Our grave-rest is very far to seek;
Ask the aged why they weep, and not the children,
For the outside earth is cold,
And we young ones stand without, in our bewildering,
And the graves are for the old."

"True," say the children, "it may happen
That we die before our time;
Little Alice died last year; her grave is shapen
Like a snowball, in the rime.
We looked into the pit prepared to take her;
    Was no room for any work in the close clay!
From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake her,
    Crying, 'Get up, little Alice! it is day.'
If you listen by that grave, in sun and shower,
    With your ear down, little Alice never cries;
Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her,
    For the smile has time for growing in her eyes;
And merry go her moments, lulled and stilled in
The shroud by the kirk-chime.
It is good when it happens," say the children,
"That we die before our time."

Alas, alas, the children! they are seeking
Death in life, as best to have!
They are binding up their hearts away from breaking,
With a cerement from the grave.
Go out, children, from the mine and from the city,
    Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do;
Pluck your handfuls of the meadow-cowslips pretty.
    Laugh aloud, to feel your fingers let them through!
But they answer, "Are your cowslips of the meadows
Like our weeds anear the mine?
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal-shadows,
From your pleasures fair and fine!

"For oh," say the children, "we are weary,
And we cannot run or leap;
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
To drop down in them and sleep.
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping,
    We fall upon our faces, trying to go;
And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping
    The reddest flower would look as pale as snow,
For, all day, we drag our burden tiring
Through the coal-dark, underground;
Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
In the factories, round and round.

"For all day the wheels are droning, turning;
Their wind comes in our faces,
Till our hearts turn, our heads with pulses burning,
And the walls turn in their places;
Turns the sky in the high window, blank and reeling,
    Turns the long light that drops adown the wall,
Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling--
    All are turning, all the day, and we with all.
And all day the iron wheels are droning,
And sometimes we could pray,
'O ye wheels' (breaking out in a mad moaning),
'Stop! be silent for today!' "

Aye, be silent! Let them hear each other breathing
For a moment, mouth to mouth!
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreathing
Of their tender human youth!
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion
    Is not all the life God fashions or reveals;
Let them prove their living souls against the notion
    That they live in you, or under you, O wheels!
Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,
Grinding life down from its mark;
And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward,
Spin on blindly in the dark.

Now tell the poor young children, O my brothers,
To look up to Him and pray;
So the blessed One who blesseth all the others,
Will bless them another day.
They answer, "Who is God that He should hear us,
    While the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred?
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us
    Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word.
And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding)
Strangers speaking at the door--
Is it likely God with angels shining round Him,
Hears our weeping any more?

"Two words, indeed, of praying we remember,
And at midnight's hour of harm,
'Our Father,' looking upward in the chamber,
We say softly for a charm.
We know no other words except 'Our Father,'
    And we think that, in some pause of angels' song,
God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,
    And hold both within His right hand which is strong.
'Our Father!' If He heard us, He would surely
(For they call Him good and mild)
Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,
'Come and rest with me, my child.'

"But, no!" say the children, weeping faster,
"He is speechless as a stone;
And they tell us, of His image is the master
Who commands us to work on.
Go to!" say the children - "up in Heaven,
    Dark, wheellike, turning clouds are all we find.
Do not mock us; grief has made us unbelieving--
    We look up for God, but tears have made us blind."
Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
O my brothers, what ye preach?
For God's possible is taught by His world's loving,
And the children doubt of each.

And well may the children weep before you!
They are weary ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
Which is brighter than the sun.
They know the grief of man, without its wisdom;
    They sing in man's despair, without its calm;
Are slaves, with the liberty of Christdom,
     Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm;
Are worn as if with age, yet unretrievingly
The harvest of its memories cannot reap--
Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly.
Let them weep! let them weep!

They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their look is dread to see,
For they mind you of their angels in high places,
With eyes turned on Deity.
"How long," they say, "how long, O cruel nation,
    Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart--
Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
    And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
Our blood splashes upward, O gold-heaper,
And your purple shows your path!
But the child's sob in the silence curses deeper
Than the strong man in his wrath."


Pass (don't click) your mouse over the words below or details:


 

Boyhood
William Allingham
 

AH, then how sweetly closed those crowded days!
The minutes parting one by one like rays,
That fade upon a summer's eve.
But O, what charm or magic numbers
Can give me back the gentle slumbers
Those weary, happy days did leave?
When by my bed I saw my mother kneel,
And with her blessing took her nightly kiss;
Whatever Time destroys, he cannot this;--
E'en now that nameless kiss I feel.

 

Allinghams's wife was an artist who painted many portraits of children and landscapes. Click to see one of her paintings

 

"If . . .
Dorothy Law Nolte

      If a child lives with criticism,
      He learns to condemn.
      If a child lives with hostility,
      He learns to fight.
      If a child lives with ridicule,
      He learns to be shy.
      If a child lives with shame,
      He learns to feel guilty.
      If a child lives with tolerance.
      He learns to be patient.
      If a child lives with encouragement,
      He learns confidence.
      If a child lives with praise.
      He learns to appreciate.
      If a child lives with fairness,
      He learns justice.
      If a child lives with security,
      He learns faith.
      If a child lives with approval,
      He learns to like himself.
      If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
      He learns to find love in the world."

 

 

Come Home, Father
a song by Henry Clay Work

Father, dear father, come home with me now!
The clock in the steeple strikes one;
You said you were coming right home from the shop,
As soon as your day's work was done.
Our fire has gone out our house is all dark
And mother's been watching since tea, --
With poor brother Benny so sick in her arms,
And no one to help her but me. --
Come home! come home! come home! --
Please, father, dear father, come home. --

[Chorus] Hear the sweet voice of the child
Which the night winds repeat as they roam!
Oh who could resist this most plaintive of prayers?
"Please, father, dear father, come home."

[Solo] Father, dear father, come home with me now!
The clock in the steeple strikes two;
The night has grown colder, and Benny is worse
But he has been calling for you.
Indeed he is worse Ma says he will die,
Perhaps before morning shall dawn; --
And this is the message she sent me to bring
"Come quickly, or he will be gone." --
Come home! come home! come home! --
Please, father, dear father, come home. --

[Chorus] Hear the sweet voice of the child
Which the night winds repeat as they roam!
Oh who could resist this most plaintive of prayers?
"Please, father, dear father, come home."

[Solo] Father, dear father, come home with me now!
The clock in the steeple strikes three;
The house is so lonely the hours are so long
For poor weeping mother and me.
Yes, we are alone poor Benny is dead,
And gone with the angels of light; --
And these were the very last words that he said
"I want to kiss Papa good night." --
Come home! come home! come home! --
Please, father, dear father, come home. --

[Chorus] Hear the sweet voice of the child
Which the night winds repeat as they roam!
Oh who could resist this most plaintive of prayers?
"Please, father, dear father, come home."

 

 

 

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Sara Coleridge (1802-1852) was the only daughter of her more
famous father Samual Taylor Coleridge who said of her when she
was a baby, "Send me the very feel of her sweet Flesh, the very
look and motion of that mouth-- O, I could drive myself mad about
her."  She was educated at home by a the circle of adults that
included her uncle. She was the mother of 5 children: Herbert,
Edith, Berkeley, Florence, and Bertha. At Herbert's christening,
Sara's father spoke continuously for 6 hours without stopping.
She wrote poems and fairy tales for her children that were also
published and became very popular. When she died she left,
as her father had, a blank page filled with dots and two lines:

Father, no amaranths e`er shall wreathe my brow--
Enough that round thy grave they flourish now.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1908-1882). When he was 23 years old he
married a woman he had known as a schoolmate, Mary Storer Potter. He saw
her at church one day and was so struck by her beauty that he followed her
home too afraid to speak to her. Together they settled down in a house
surrounded by elm trees. She tragically died a few years after their marriage
as the young couple was traveling in Europe. Seven years after the death
of his first wife Longfellow married again, to Francis Appleton. The marriage
was a happy one and the couple was blessed with 2 boys and 3 girls. This
marriage, though, also ended tragically when his second wife died of burns
she sustained when packages of her children's hair, which she was sealing
with matches and wax, burst into flames.
    Worldwide, Longfellow may be the best loved of all American poets. His
father hoped he would become a lawyer, but Longfellow pursued a career in
linguistics eventually taking a chair at Harvard but later abandoning it as it
took time from his ever more popular writing. When it was necessary to cut
down "the spreading chestnut tree" alluded to in Longfellow's the Village
Blacksmith, the children of Longfellow's home town gave their pennies to
build a chair for him from the felled tree. His works include The Song of
Hiawatha
, The Courtship of Miles Standish, and Evangeline.

The Children's Hour as seems natural is about Longfellow's own children.
"grave Alice and laughing Allegra and Edith with golden hair." are his three
daughters.

Samuel Longfellow(1819-1892) was the younger brother of poet
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He attended both Harvard College
and Cambridge Divinity School and became an ordained Unitarian
minister. He served churches in Massachusetts, Brooklyn, and
Pennsylvania. He compiled four hymnals which including some of
his own compositions.

Go Forth To Life, O Child of Earth is from a hymnal, Hymns of the
Spirit (1864) compiled by Longfellow that contains hymns such as
this one which he himself wrote. It was set to music, 'Brookfield'
composed by Thomas B. Southgate.

William Allingham(1824-1889).The Bard of Ballyshannon
married Helen Paterson, the famous children's illustrator in
1874. Their first son, Gerald Carlyle, was named after a
close family friend the renowned philosopher Thomas Carlyle.
A daughter, Eva Margaret or "Evey" born in 1877 who was
later succeeded by their last child, Henry William, in 1882.


A portrait by his wife