POEMS ON CHILDREN:
WHAT POLLY FOUND IN HER STOCKING Poetry/Poem by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
WITH the first pale glimmer,
Of the morning red,
Polly woke delighted
And flew out of bed.
To the door she hurried,
Never stopped for clothes,
Though Jack Frost’s cold fingers
Nipt her little toes.
There it hung! the stocking,
Long and blue and full;
Down it quickly tumbled
With a hasty pull.
Back she capered, laughing,
Happy little Polly;
For from out the stocking
Stared a splendid dolly!
Next, what most she wanted,
In a golden nut,
With a shining thimble,
Scissors that would cut;
Then a book all pictures,
“Children in the Wood.”
And some scarlet mittens
Like her scarlet hood.
Next a charming jump-rope,
New and white and strong;
(Little Polly’s stocking
Though small was very long,)
In the heel she fumbled,
“Something soft and warm,”
A rainbow ball of worsted
Which could do no harm.
In the foot came bon-bons,
In the toe a ring,
And some seeds of mignonette
Ready for the spring.
There she sat at daylight
Hugging close dear dolly;
Eating, looking, laughing,
Happy little Polly!
PORTRAIT OF A BOY Poetry/Poem by Stephen Vincent Benét
AFTER the whipping he crawled into bed,
Accepting the harsh fact with no great weeping.
How funny uncle’s hat had looked striped red!
He chuckled silently. The moon came, sweeping
A black, frayed rag of tattered cloud before
In scorning; very pure and pale she seemed,
Flooding his bed with radiance. On the floor
Fat motes danced. He sobbed, closed his eyes and dreamed.
Warm sands flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
Splashed the white grains like blood. Pas the cave’s mouth
Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
The crooked constellations of the South;
Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
Beside webbed purples from some galleon’s hold,
A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
Above a scrawled “Gunpowder!” By the flames,
Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
“Doubloons!” they said. The words crashed gold. “Doubloons!”
PORTRAIT OF A BABY Poetry/Poem by Stephen Vincent Benét
HE LAY within a warm, soft world
Of motion. Colors bloomed and fled,
Maroon and turquoise, saffron, red,
Wave upon wave that broke and whirled
To vanish in the grey-green gloom,
Perspectiveless and shadowy.
A bulging world that had no walls,
A flowing world, most like the sea,
Compassing all infinity
Within a shapeless, ebbing room,
An endless tide that swells and falls . . .
He slept and woke and slept again.
As a veil drops, Time dropped away;
Space grew a toy for children’s play,
Sleep bolted fast the gates of Sense–
He lay in naked impotence;
Like a drenched moth that creeps and crawls
Heavily up brown, light-baked walls,
To fall in wreck, her task undone,
Yet somehow striving toward the sun.
So, as he slept, his hands clenched tighter,
Shut in the old way of a fighter,
His feet curled up to grip the ground,
His muscles tautened for a bound;
And though he felt, and felt alone,
Strange brightness stirred him to the bone,
Cravings to rise–till deeper sleep
Buried the hope, the call, the leap;
A wind puffed out his mind’s faint spark.
He was absorbed into the dark.
He woke again and felt a surge
Within him, a mysterious urge
That grew one hungry flame of passion;
The whole world altered shape and fashion.
Deceived, befooled, bereft and torn,
He scourged the heavens with his scorn,
Lifting a bitter voice to cry
Against the eternal treachery–
Till, suddenly, he found the breast,
And ceased, and all things were at rest,
The earth grew one warm languid sea
And he a wave. Joy, tingling, crept
Throughout him. He was quenched and slept.
So, while the moon made broad her ring,
He slept and cried and was a king.
So, worthily, he acted o’er
The endless miracle once more.
Facing immense adventures daily,
He strove still onward, weeping, gayly,
Conquered or fled from them, but grew
As soil-starved, rouph pine-saplings do.
Till, one day, crawling seemed suspect.
He gripped the air and stood erect
And splendid. With immortal rage
He entered on man’s heritage!
OUR LITTLE GHOST Poetry/Poem by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
OFT in the silence of the night,
When the lonely moon rides high,
When wintry winds are whistling,
And we hear the owl’s shrill cry;
In the quiet, dusky chamber,
By the flickering firelight,
Rising up between two sleepers,
Comes a spirit all in white.
A winsome little ghost it is,
Rosy-cheeked and bright of eye,
With yellow curls all breaking loose
From the small cap pushed awry;
Up it climbs among the pillows,
For the “big gark” brings no dread,
And a baby’s busy fancy
Makes a kingdom of a bed.
A fearless little ghost it is;
Safe the night as is the day;
The lonely moon to it is fair,
The sighing winds to it are gay.
The solitude is full of friends,
And the hour brings no regrets,
For in this happy little soul
Shines a sun that never sets.
A merry little ghost it is,
Dancing gayly by itself
On the flowery counterpane,
Like a tricksy household elf;
Nodding to the fitful shadows
As they flicker on the wall,
Talking to familiar pictures,
Mimicking the owl’s shrill call.
A thoughtful little ghost it is;
And when lonely gambols tire,
With chubby hands on chubby knees,
Sits winking at the fire;
Fancies innocent and lovely
Shine before those baby eyes;
Sunny fields of dandelions,
Brooks, and birds, and butterflies.
A loving little ghost it is,
When crept into its nest,
Its hand on father’s shoulder laid,
Its head on mother’s breast,
It watches each familiar face
With a tranquil, trusting eye,
And, like a sleepy little bird,
Sings its own soft lullaby.
Then those who feigned to sleep before,
Lest baby play till dawn,
Wake and watch their folded flower,
Little rose without a thorn!
And in the silence of the night,
The hearts that love it most,
Pray tenderly above its sleep,
“God bless our little ghost!”
LALILA, TO THE FERENGI LOVER, translated into English by: Laurence Hope (1865-1904)
WHY above others was I so blessed
And honoured? to be the chosen one
To hold you, sleeping, against my breast,
As now I may hold your only son.
Twelve months ago; that wonderful night!
You gave your life to me in a kiss;
Have I done well, for that past delight,
In return, to have given you this?
Look down at his face, your face, beloved,
His eyes are azure as yours are blue.
In every line of his form is proved
How well I loved you, and only you.
I felt the secret hope at my heart
Turn suddenly to the living joy,
And knew that your life in mine had part
As golden grains in a brass alloy.
And learning thus, that your child was mine,
Thrilled by the sense of its stirring life,
I held myself as a sacred shrine
Afar from pleasure, and pain, and strife,
That all unworthy I might not be
Of that you had deigned to cause to dwell
Hidden away in the heart of me,
As white pearls hide in a dusky shell.
Do you remember, when first you laid
Your lips on mine, that enchanted night?
My eyes were timid, my lips afraid,
You seemed so slender and strangely white.
I always trembled; the moments flew
Swiftly to dawn that took you away,
But this is a small and lovely you
Content to rest in my arms all day.
Oh, since you have sought me, Lord, for this,
And given your only child to me,
My life devoted to yours and his,
Whilst I am living, will always be.
And after death, through the long To Be,
(Which, I think, must surely keep love’s laws,)
I, should you chance to have need of me,
Am ever and always, only yours.
DORA Poetry/Poem by T. E. Brown (1830-1897)
SHE knelt upon her brother’s grave,
My little girl of six years old–
He used to be so good and brave,
The sweetest lamb of all our fold;
He used to shout, he used to sing,
Of all our tribe the little king–
And so unto the turf her ear she laid,
To hark if still in that dark place he played.
No sound! no sound!
Death’s silence was profound;
And horror crept
Into her aching heart, and Dora wept.
If this is as it ought to be,
My God, I leave it unto Thee.
THE CHILD Poetry/Poem by Sara Coleridge (1802-1852)
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.
POEMS ON CHILDREN: