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Childhood Poems

Table of Contents

Childhood Poems
Untitled
by Edward Henry Potthast

Poems About Childhood Experiences

  1. Coasting Down the Hill by Anonymous
  2. When the First Teeth Go by Amos Russel Wells
  3. Rock Me to Sleep by Elizabeth Akers Allen
  4. Marching Song by Robert Louis Stevenson
  5. Saturday Afternoon by Emily Dickinson
  6. The Hayloft by Robert Louis Stevenson
  7. The Attic of My Childhood by Helen Emma Maring
  8. Nurse's Song by William Blake
  9. Mr. Coggs by Edward Verrall Lucas
  10. Kid Days of Long Ago by Joe Roscoe Conklin
  11. Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field
  12. Native Attachment by Hannah Flagg Gould
  13. Recollections by Hannah Flagg Gould
  14. A Fool's Wish by Anonymous
  15. We play at paste by Emily Dickinson
  16. The Light Balloon by Emily Dickinson
  17. Les Ballons by Oscar Wilde
  18. The Frosting Dish by Edgar A. Guest
  19. The Unseen Playmate by Robert Louis Stevenson
  20. Pirate Story by Robert Louis Stevenson
  21. Among the Rushes by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

Poems About a Child's Persepective

  1. Playgrounds by Laurence Alma-Tadema
  2. A Cheerless Dawn by Anonymous
  3. The Gardener by Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. The World's Music by Gabriel Setoun
  5. Children's Song by Ford Madox Ford
  6. Seein' Things by Eugene Field
  7. The Peddler's Caravan by William Brighty Rands
  8. Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
  9. Strange Tree by Elizabeth Madox Roberts
  10. The Branch by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

Poems About Boyhood

  1. Boyhood by Madison Cawein
  2. A Boy's Song by James Hogg
  3. Going Down Hill on a Bicycle by Henry Charles Beeching
  4. The Boys by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  5. The Ships of Yule by Bliss Carman
  6. The Barefoot Boy by John Greenleaf Whittier
  7. Young Soldiers by Anonymous
  8. Autumn by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

Childhood Experiences

  1. Coasting Down the Hill

    by Anonymous

    Frosty is the morning;
    But the sun is bright,
    Flooding all the landscape
    With its golden light.
    Hark the sounds of laughter
    And the voices shrill!
    See the happy children
    Coasting down the hill.

    There are Tom and Charley,
    And their sister Nell;
    There are John and Willie,
    Kate and Isabel,—
    Eyes with pleasure beaming,
    Cheeks with health aglow;
    Bless the merry children,
    Trudging through the snow!

    Now I hear them shouting,
    "Ready! Clear the track!"
    Down the slope they're rushing,
    Now they're trotting back.

    Full of fun and frolic,
    Thus they come and go.
    Coating down the hillside,
    Trudging through the snow.

  2. When the First Teeth Go

    by Amos Russel Wells

    It is infancy's old age
    When the first teeth go;
    It's the turning of the page
    When the first teeth go;
    It's farewell to merry youth
    With its innocence and truth,
    With its tenderness and ruth,
    When the first teeth go.

    There are novelties of pain
    When the first teeth go;
    Quick to lose and slow to gain,
    When the first teeth go;
    Ugly vacancies appear,
    New and lisping tones we bear
    'Tis a most erratic year
    When the first teeth go.

    Ah, the sober thoughts we think
    When their first teeth go,
    And the rising tears we wink
    When their first teeth go!
    For the coming teeth must chew
    Many meals of bitter rue,
    And their sorrows come in view
    As their first teeth go.

    Yes, but grand teeth come instead,
    When the first teeth go,
    Strong for meat and white for bread,
    When the first teeth go;
    Though the crust is hard and dry,
    Health and power in it lie,
    And there's better by and by;
    Let the first teeth go!

  3. Rock Me to Sleep

    Elizabeth Akers Allen

    Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
    Make me a child again, just for to-night!
    Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
    Take me again to your heart as of yore;
    Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
    Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
    Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;—
    Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

    Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
    I am so weary of toil and of tears;
    Toil without recompense, tears all in vain;
    Take them, and give me my childhood again!
    I have grown weary of dust and decay,—
    Weary of flinging my soul wealth away;
    Weary of sowing for others to reap;—
    Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

    Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
    Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you!
    Many a summer the grass has grown green,
    Blossomed and faded, our faces between:
    Yet with strong yearning and passionate pain,
    Long I to-night for your presence again.
    Come from the silence so long and so deep;—
    Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

    Over my heart in the days that are flown,
    No love like mother love ever has shone;
    No other worship abides and endures,
    Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
    None like a mother can charm away pain
    From the sick soul, and the world-weary brain.
    Slumber's soft calms o'er my heavy lids creep;—
    Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

    Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
    Fall on your shoulders again, as of old;
    Let it drop over my forehead to-night,
    Shading my faint eyes away from the light;
    For with its sunny-edged shadows once more,
    Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore;
    Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;—
    Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

    Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
    Since I last listened your lullaby song;
    Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
    Womanhood's years have been only a dream!
    Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
    With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
    Never hereafter to wake or to weep:—
    Rock me to sleep, mother,—rock me to sleep!

  4. Marching Song

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Bring the comb and play upon it!
    Marching, here we come!
    Willie cocks his highland bonnet,
    Johnnie beats the drum.

    Mary Jane commands the party,
    Peter leads the rear;
    Feet in time, alert and hearty,
    Each a Grenadier!

    All in the most martial manner
    Marching double-quick;
    While the napkin, like a banner,
    Waves upon the stick!

    Here's enough of fame and pillage,
    Great commander Jane!
    Now that we've been round the village,
    Let's go home again.

  5. Saturday Afternoon

    by Emily Dickinson

    From all the jails the boys and girls
    Ecstatically leap, —
    Beloved, only afternoon
    That prison doesn't keep.

    They storm the earth and stun the air,
    A mob of solid bliss.
    Alas! that frowns could lie in wait
    For such a foe as this!

  6. The Hayloft

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Through all the pleasant meadow-side
    The grass grew shoulder-high,
    Till the shining scythes went far and wide
    And cut it down to dry.

    Those green and sweetly smelling crops
    They led in waggons home;
    And they piled them here in mountain tops
    For mountaineers to roam.

    Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail,
    Mount Eagle and Mount High;—
    The mice that in these mountains dwell,
    No happier are than I!

    Oh, what a joy to clamber there,
    Oh, what a place for play,
    With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
    The happy hills of hay!

  7. The Attic of My Childhood

    by Helen Emma Maring

    Oh, the wonders of that attic,
    How I loved to climb its stair
    Made of steps just like a ladder
    And a trap door waiting there!

    Through fan-shapen windows, streaming,
    Came the golden shafts of sun,
    Through the fairy curtains gleaming,
    That the tireless spiders spun.

    There, a distaff, wheel and treadle,
    Lay beneath the sloping roof,
    None there were who knew its uses—
    Gone, the maker of the woof.

    There, too, hung a war-time weapon—
    Grandpa's bayonet, so grim.
    He had whipped the Rebel army—
    General Grant a-helping him.

    Oh, the treasures of that attic
    Hanging from its rafters bare—
    Coats of velvet, silken dresses,
    Beaded bags, and wreaths of hair.

    Hats and bonnets, shoes and slippers,
    Used for masquerades a lot,
    Plant jars and unhandled dippers
    Underneath each leaky spot.

    Shawls and scarfs and knitted mittens,
    Colors of the Orient;
    Dolls and doylies, sawdust kittens,
    Oh, the money that was spent!

    Strings of buttons, by the thousands,
    Still no making of a pair;
    Margaret sought them from the neighbors
    When she wore beribboned hair.

    Dainty bits of china, broken,
    And a precious statue cracked,
    All within their tissue wrappings,
    Tied by loving hands—intact.

    Winter apples, there for keeping,
    Spread about upon the floor,
    Big pound-sweets and golden russets,
    But I never left a core.

    Piles of butternuts there drying
    Till their satin coats of green
    Turned a sombre brown, all shrunken,
    And the jagged shells were seen.

    Whalebone ribs from old umbrellas,
    And I smoked that acrid stuff,
    Till my stomach in rebellion
    Warned me--not another puff.

    Hoopskirts, with and without bustles,
    Linen dusters, carpet rags,
    Quilting frames and curtain stretchers,
    Magazines and traveling bags.

    Paper sacks of downy feathers
    Waiting there to fill a tick,
    Foot-stools and some other comforts
    Only used when folks were sick.

    And within a trunk so aged
    That its sides had turned to gray,
    Were the tear-stained precious treasures
    Of the ones who'd passed away—

    Stockings made for brother Tommy,
    Dresses that dear Nannie wore,
    Dainty bits of broidered muslin—
    Grandma's needle-work of yore.

    Ah! Each mortal has an attic
    Where he stores the broken past—
    Shattered hopes, and hours of gladness,
    Loves that cling until the last.

    Childhood plays within its shadow,
    Manhood lingers in its gloom,
    But Old Age lives midst the splendors,
    There, in Memory's Attic Room.

  8. Nurse's Song

    Nurse's Song
    Nurse's Song
    by Unknown
    by William Blake

    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 the 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 echoed.

  9. Mr. Coggs

    by Edward Verrall Lucas

    A watch will tell the time of day,
    Or tell it nearly, any way,
    Excepting when it's overwound,
    Or when you drop it on the ground.

    If any of our watches stop,
    We haste to Mr. Coggs's shop;
    For though to scold us he pretends,
    He's quite among our special friends.

    He fits a dice-box in his eye,
    And takes a long and thoughtful spy,
    And prods the wheels, and says, "Dear, dear!
    More carelessness, I greatly fear."

    And then he lays the dice-box down
    And frowns a most prodigious frown;
    But if we ask him what's the time,
    He'll make his gold repeater chime.

  10. Kid Days of Long Ago

    by Joe Roscoe Conklin

    O, were you e'er a freckled boy
    Who stubbed his bare-foot toes
    And found it did not spoil the joy
    Of scanty summer clo'es?

    And did you never sit down by
    A log across a brook,
    And with keen, boyish ardor, try
    To fish with a pin-hook?

    And did you never own a pair
    Of red-top boots, brass-toed,
    And wear them with a prideful air,
    'Fore your first corns had grow'd?

  11. Little Boy Blue

    by Eugene Field

    The little toy dog is covered with dust,
    But sturdy and stanch he stands;
    And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
    And his musket moulds in his hands.
    Time was when the little toy dog was new,
    And the soldier was passing fair;
    And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
    Kissed them and put them there.

    "Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
    "And don't you make any noise!"
    So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
    He dreamt of the pretty toys;
    And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
    Awakened our Little Boy Blue—
    Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
    But the little toy friends are true!

    Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
    Each in the same old place,
    Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
    The smile of a little face;
    And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
    In the dust of that little chair,
    What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
    Since he kissed them and put them there.

  12. Native Attachment

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Though year after year has rolled on to the deep,
    Where their sorrows and joys in oblivion sleep,
    Since my eye fondly lingered to look an adieu,
    As the home of my childhood was fading from view,
    Not a flower nor a vine round my loved native cot,
    Through time's ceaseless changes, has e'er been forgot.

    The song of the robin, that sang on the bough
    Of the neighbouring pine, is as dear to me now;
    The brook looks as clear to my memory's eye,
    And the verdure as fresh on the banks it played by;
    The lamb bounds as joyous and light o'er the glade,
    As when 'mid those scenes I in infancy strayed.

    And oft my dark hours of their cares are beguiled,
    As fancy's bright wand turns me back to the child
    That followed the flight of the butterfly's wing,
    And plucked the red berries that welcomed the spring;
    Or reached for the fair purple cluster, that hung
    Where round the bowed alder the wild tendril clung.

    The splendor of cities, the polish of art
    May seek my devotion, and sue for my heart;
    But no fount of delight on life's landscape will gush
    Like that, which leapt down by the violet and rush;
    No notes come so sweet as the song of the bird,
    Which the ear of the child from the coppice first heard.

    I find not a gem in my pathway so bright
    As the fire-fly, pursued by my young feet at night.
    Earth offers no flowers like the wild ones I wreathed;
    No breeze comes from heaven like the air I first breathed.
    No spot seems so pure in the wide vault on high,
    As that which sent down the first light to my eye!

  13. Recollections

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    I wonder what they have done with the pine,
    Where the red-breast came to sing—
    With the maple, too, where the wandering vine
    So wildly used to fling
    Its loaded arms from bough to bough,
    And if they gather the grapes there now.

    I should like to know if they've killed the bee,
    And carried away the hive;
    If they're broken the heart of my chestnut-tree,
    Or left it still to survive,
    And its laughing burs are showering down
    Their loosened treasures of shining brown.

    And there was a beautiful pond, that stood
    Like an ample azure vase,
    Or a mirror, embosomed in wild green wood,
    For the sun to see his face.
    Have they torn up its lilies to open a sluice
    And let that peaceful prisoner loose?

    Perhaps they have ruined the ancient oak,
    That gave me its grateful shade;
    And its own dead root in its bed is broke
    By the plough, from its branches made;
    Nor am I sure I could find the spot
    Where I had my bower and my mossy grot.

    And shall I go back to my first loved home
    To find how all is changed,
    Alone o'er those altered scenes to roam,
    From my early self estranged?
    Shall I bend me over the glassy brook,
    No more on the face of a child to look?

    No! no! for that loveliest spot upon earth
    Let memory's charm suffice!
    But the spirit will long to the place of her birth
    From time and its change to rise;
    To soar and recover her primal bloom,
    When death with his trophy has stopped at the tomb!

  14. A Fool's Wish

    by Anonymous

    I wish I could be the kind of fool I was in the days of yore,
    When people could send me on idiotic errands to the store.
    When I found the purse tied to a string, and discovered the sugar was salt,
    And tried to pick up the county line for jolly Uncle Walt.

    For now I'm a fool of a different sort, a less desirable kind,
    The fashion of fool that dabbles in stocks and leaves his earnings behind;
    The fool that toils for a hunk of gold and misses the only wealth;
    The fool that sells for the bubble of fame his happiness and health.

    Yes, now you behold in me the fool, the melancholy fool
    Who has to go back, with his temples gray, to the very primary school.
    And learn the fundamentals of life, the simple, essential things.
    The body that lives and the mind that and the soul that trusts and sings.

    And would I could be the kind of fool I was in the olden days,
    The fool that would fall for an open trick and be fooled in those innocent ways.
    I would give the whole of my bank account and the worldly success I am,
    If I could go to the kitchen door to look for the gooseberry jamb!

  15. We play at paste,

    by Emily Dickinson

    We play at paste,
    Till qualified for pearl,
    Then drop the paste,
    And deem ourself a fool.
    The shapes, though, were similar,
    And our new hands
    Learned gem-tactics
    Practising sands.

  16. The Light Balloon

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Spirits that dwell in the world of air!
    Your voices and viewless harps attune,
    To bid me hail! as I enter there—
    I'm coming! I'm coming! the light balloon!

    Ye that have flown to seek me here,
    Spread your gentle and buoyant wings,
    To waft me off, till I mount and clear
    From the sight and the sound of earthly things!

    Now, the mark of a thousand eyes,
    But soon to fade from the mortal view;
    Away! away! to the shining skies,
    I, like a spirit, am speeding, too.

    Ye who stand on your rolling ball,
    The shadowy earth, the clouds will soon
    Lie between us, and hide you all,
    Like an ocean of waves, from the light balloon!

    Yonder sable, vapory mass,
    So big with the bolt that would strike me through,
    I shall approach, elude, and pass;
    And glide up, up to the pure, bright blue.

    My master's trusty and airy boat,
    Gallantly trimmed, my course I keep;
    Without a billow beneath, I float,
    A lonely sail on the boundless deep.

    The sun! the sun is my polar star;
    I traverse a sea that has ne'er been crossed!
    The earth is gone! I have left it far
    Behind, as a speck, in the distance lost.

    Above the walks, and the tribes of men!
    Beyond the traces of human power!
    Out of the reach of the mortal ken!
    'T is a perilous, strange, momentous hour!

    Now, my maker, I have thee here!
    Pray to thine own, for the needed boon
    Of His breath to waft, and His hand to steer,
    To a peaceful haven, thy light balloon!

  17. Les Ballons

    by Oscar Wilde

    Against these turbid turquoise skies
    The light and luminous balloons
    Dip and drift like satin moons
    Drift like silken butterflies;

    Reel with every windy gust,
    Rise and reel like dancing girls,
    Float like strange transparent pearls,
    Fall and float like silver dust.

    Now to the low leaves they cling,
    Each with coy fantastic pose,
    Each a petal of a rose
    Straining at a gossamer string.

    Then to the tall trees they climb,
    Like thin globes of amethyst,
    Wandering opals keeping tryst
    With the rubies of the lime.

  18. The Frosting Dish

    by Edgar A. Guest

    When I was just a little tad
    Not more than eight or nine,
    One special treat to make me glad
    Was set apart as "mine."
    On baking days she granted me
    The small boy's dearest wish,
    And when the cake was finished, she
    Gave me the frosting dish.

    I've eaten chocolate many ways,
    I've had it hot and cold;
    I've sampled it throughout my days
    In every form it's sold.
    And though I still am fond of it,
    And hold its flavor sweet,
    The icing dish, I still admit,
    Remains the greatest treat.

    Never has chocolate tasted so,
    Nor brought to me such joy
    As in those days of long ago
    When I was but a boy,
    And stood beside my mother fair,
    Waiting the time when she
    Would gently stoop to kiss me there
    And hand the plate to me.

    Now there's another in my place
    Who stands where once I stood.
    And watches with an upturned face
    And waits for "something good."
    And as she hands him spoon and plate
    I chuckle low and wish
    That I might be allowed to wait
    To scrape the frosting dish.

  19. The Unseen Playmate

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    When children are playing alone on the green,
    In comes the playmate that never was seen.
    When children are happy and lonely and good,
    The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.

    Nobody heard him and nobody saw,
    His is a picture you never could draw,
    But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home,
    When children are happy and playing alone.

    He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass,
    He sings when you tinkle the musical glass;
    Whene'er you are happy and cannot tell why,
    The Friend of the Children is sure to be by!

    He loves to be little, he hates to be big,
    'Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig;
    'Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin
    That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win.

    'Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed,
    Bids you go to your sleep and not trouble your head;
    For wherever they're lying, in cupboard or shelf,
    'Tis he will take care of your playthings himself!

  20. Pirate Story

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
    Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.
    Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
    And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.

    Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
    Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
    Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
    To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?

    Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea—
    Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
    Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
    The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.

  21. Among the Rushes

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    I saw a curly leaf and it was caught against the grassy side,
    And it was tangled in the watery grasses where the branch is wide;
    I had it for my little ark of rushes that must wait and hide.

    I had it for my little Moses hidden where no one could see,
    The little baby Moses that nobody knew about but me.

    And I was hiding in the flags and I was waiting all the day,
    And watching on the bank to see if Pharaoh's daughter came that way.

A Child's Perspective

  1. Playgrounds

    by Laurence Alma-Tadema

    In summer I am very glad
    We children are so small,
    For we can see a thousand things
    That men can't see at all.

    They don't know much about the moss
    And all the stones they pass:
    They never lie and play among
    The forests in the grass:

    They walk about a long way off;
    And, when we're at the sea,
    Let father stoop as best he can
    He can't find things like me.

    But, when the snow is on the ground
    And all the puddles freeze,
    I wish that I were very tall,
    High up above the trees.

  2. A Cheerless Dawn

    by Anonymous

    Prone in the prison of a lonely night,
    At last the darkness quivers to my sight;
    The Sheriff Sun has come to give release,
    And far before him throws a crawling light.

    Ah, were it not the Sheriff pacing slow,
    Grimly to offer me the lesser woe
    Of barren toil, and back to jail at night,—
    But Mother, as in days of long ago!

    In heaven, O God! I want no joy but this;
    Once more to have the child's unconscious bliss,
    The perfect sleep unvexed by any pain,
    And Mother to awake me with a kiss.

  3. The Gardener

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    The gardener does not love to talk,
    He makes me keep the gravel walk;
    And when he puts his tools away,
    He locks the door and takes the key.

    Away behind the currant row
    Where no one else but cook may go,
    Far in the plots, I see him dig,
    Old and serious, brown and big.

    He digs the flowers, green, red, and blue,
    Nor wishes to be spoken to.
    He digs the flowers and cuts the hay,
    And never seems to want to play.

    Silly gardener! summer goes,
    And winter comes with pinching toes,
    When in the garden bare and brown
    You must lay your barrow down.

    Well now, and while the summer stays,
    To profit by these garden days
    O how much wiser you would be
    To play at Indian wars with me!

  4. The World's Music

    by Gabriel Setoun

    The world's a very happy place,
    Where every child should dance and sing,
    And always have a smiling face,
    And never sulk for anything.

    I waken when the morning's come,
    And feel the air and light alive
    With strange sweet music like the hum
    Of bees about their busy hive.

    The linnets play among the leaves
    At hide-and-seek, and chirp and sing;
    While, flashing to and from the eaves,
    The swallows twitter on the wing.

    The twigs that shake, and boughs that sway;
    And tall old trees you could not climb;
    And winds that come, but cannot stay,
    Are gaily singing all the time.

    From dawn to dark the old mill-wheel
    Makes music, going round and round;
    And dusty-white with flour and meal,
    The miller whistles to its sound.

    And if you listen to the rain
    When leaves and birds and bees are dumb,
    You hear it pattering on the pane
    Like Andrew beating on his drum.

    The coals beneath the kettle croon,
    And clap their hands and dance in glee;
    And even the kettle hums a tune
    To tell you when it's time for tea.

    th The world is such a happy place,
    That children, whether big or small,
    Should always have a smiling face,
    And never, never sulk at all.

  5. Children's Song

    by Ford Madox Ford

    Sometimes wind and sometimes rain,
    Then the sun comes back again;
    Sometimes rain and sometimes snow,
    Goodness, how we'd like to know
    Why the weather alters so.

    When the weather's really good
    We go nutting in the wood;
    When it rains we stay at home,
    And then sometimes other some
    Of the neighbors' children come.

    Sometimes we have jam and meat,
    All the things we like to eat;
    Sometimes we make do with bread
    And potatoes boiled instead.
    Once when we were put to bed
    We had nowt and mother cried,
    But that was after father died.

    So, sometimes wind and sometimes rain,
    Then the sun comes back again;
    Sometimes rain and sometimes snow,
    Goodness, how we'd like to know
    If things will always alter so.

  6. Seein' Things

    by Eugene Field

    I ain't afeard uv snakes, or toads, or bugs, or worms, or mice,
    An' things 'at girls are skeered uv I think are awful nice!
    I'm pretty brave, I guess; an' yet I hate to go to bed,
    For, when I'm tucked up warm an' snug an' when my prayers are said,
    Mother tells me "Happy Dreams!" an' takes away the light,
    An' leaves me lyin' all alone an' seein' things at night!

    Sometimes they're in the corner, sometimes they're by the door,
    Sometimes they're all a-standin' in the middle uv the floor;
    Sometimes they are a-sittin' down, sometimes they're walkin' round
    So softly and so creepylike they never make a sound!
    Sometimes they are as black as ink, an' other times they're white—
    But the color ain't no difference when you see things at night!

    Once, when I licked a feller 'at had just moved on our street,
    An' father sent me up to bed without a bite to eat,
    I woke up in the dark an' saw things standin' in a row,
    A-lookin' at me cross-eyed an' p'intin' at me—so!
    Oh, my! I wuz so skeered that time I never slep' a mite—
    It's almost alluz when I'm bad I see things at night!

    Lucky thing I ain't a girl, or I'd be skeered to death!
    Bein' I'm a boy, I duck my head an' hold my breath;
    An' I am, oh, so sorry I'm a naughty boy, an' then
    I promise to be better an' I say my prayers again!
    Gran'ma tells me that's the only way to make it right
    When a feller has been wicked an' sees things at night!

    An' so, when other naughty boys would coax me into sin,
    I try to skwush the Tempter's voice 'at urges me within;
    An' when they's pie for supper, or cakes 'at's big an' nice,
    I want to—but I do not pass my plate f'r them things twice!
    No, ruther let Starvation wipe me slowly out o' sight
    Than I should keep a-livin' on an' seein' things at night!

  7. The Peddler's Caravan

    by William Brighty Rands

    I wish I lived in a caravan,
    With a horse to drive, like a peddler-man!
    Where he comes from nobody knows,
    Or where he goes to, but on he goes!

    His caravan has windows two,
    And a chimney of tin, that the smoke comes through;
    He has a wife, with a baby brown,
    And they go riding from town to town.

    Chairs to mend, and delf to sell!
    He clashes the basins like a bell;
    Tea-trays, baskets ranged in order,
    Plates, with alphabets round the border!

    The roads are brown, and the sea is green,
    But his house is like a bathing-machine;
    The world is round, and he can ride,
    Rumble and slash, to the other side!

    With the peddler-man I should like to roam,
    And write a book when I came home;
    All the people would read my book,
    Just like the Travels of Captain Cook!

  8. Bed in Summer

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    In winter I get up at night
    And dress by yellow candle-light.
    In summer, quite the other way,
    I have to go to bed by day.

    I have to go to bed and see The birds still hopping on the tree,
    Or hear the grown-up people's feet
    Still going past me in the street.

    And does it not seem hard to you,
    When all the sky is clear and blue,
    And I should like so much to play,
    To have to go to bed by day?

  9. Strange Tree

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    Away beyond the Jarboe house
    I saw a different kind of tree.
    Its trunk was old and large and bent,
    And I could feel it look at me.

    The road was going on and on
    Beyond to reach some other place.
    I saw a tree that looked at me,
    And yet it did not have a face.

    It looked at me with all its limbs;
    It looked at me with all its bark.
    The yellow wrinkles on its sides
    Were bent and dark.

    And then I ran to get away,
    But when I stopped to turn and see,
    The tree was bending to the side
    And leaning out to look at me.

  10. The Branch

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    We stopped at the branch on the way to the hill.
    We stopped at the water a while and played.
    We hid our things by the osage tree
    And took off our shoes and stockings to wade.

    There is sand at the bottom that bites at your feet,
    And there is a rock where the waterfall goes.
    You can poke your foot in the foamy part
    And feel how the water runs over your toes.

    The little black spiders that walk on the top
    Of the water are hard and stiff and cool.
    And I saw some wiggletails going around,
    And some slippery minnows that live in the pool.

    And where it is smooth there is moss on a stone,
    And where it is shallow and almost dry
    The rocks are broken and hot in the sun,
    And a rough little water goes hurrying by.

Boyhood

  1. Going Down Hill on a Bicycle

    by Henry Charles Beeching

    A Boy's Song

    With lifted feet, hands still,
    I am poised, and down the hill
    Dart, with heedful mind;
    The air goes by in a wind.

    Swifter and yet more swift,
    Till the heart with a mighty lift
    Makes the lungs laugh, the throat cry:—
    "O bird, see; see, bird, I fly.

    "Is this, is this your joy?
    O bird, then I, though a boy,
    For a golden moment share
    Your feathery life in air!"

    Say, heart, is there aught like this
    In a world that is full of bliss?
    'Tis more than skating, bound
    Steel-shod to the level ground.

    Speed slackens now, I float
    Awhile in my airy boat;
    Till, when the wheels scarce crawl,
    My feet to the treadles fall.

    Alas, that the longest hill
    Must end in a vale; but still,
    Who climbs with toil, wheresoe'er,
    Shall find wings waiting there.

  2. A Boy's Song

    by James Hogg

    Where the pools are bright and deep,
    Where the gray trout lies asleep,
    Up the river and over the lea,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Where the blackbird sings the latest,
    Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
    Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
    Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
    There to track the homeward bee,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Where the hazel bank is steepest,
    Where the shadow falls the deepest,
    Where the clustering nuts fall free,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Why the boys should drive away
    Little sweet maidens from the play,
    Or love to banter and fight so well,
    That's the thing I never could tell.

    But this I know, I love to play
    Through the meadow, among the hay;
    Up the water and over the lea,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

  3. Boyhood

    by Madison Cawein

    O DAYS that hold us; and years that mold us!
    And dreams and mem'ries no time destroys!
    Where lie the islands, the morning islands,
    And where the highlands we knew when boys?

    Oh, tell us, whether the happy heather
    Still purples ways we used to roam;
    And mid its roses, its oldtime roses,
    The place reposes we knew as home.

    Oh, could we find him, that boy, and bind him, —
    The boy we were that never grew, —
    By whom we're haunted, our hearts are haunted,—
    What else were wanted by me and you?

    Again to see it! Again to knee it!
    The pond we waded, the brook we swum;
    That held more pleasures, more priceless pleasures,
    Than all the treasures to which we come.

    Again to follow through wood and hollow
    A cowbell's tinkle, a bird's wild call,
    To where they yellow, the daisies yellow,
    And lights lie mellow at evenfall.

    To be the leaders of oaks and cedars,
    The giant hosts of worlds at war;
    Or princes airy, proud princes airy,
    Of Lands of Faery that lie afar.

    Through scents of yarrow, where paths are narrow,
    To foot the way we only know,
    That leads to places, old orchard places,
    And garden spaces of Long Ago.

    To climb rail fences, when dusk commences,
    With young Adventure, tanned hand in hand;
    And lead by starlight, by dewy starlight,
    To one farm's far light a campaign planned.

    Where she, our princess, mid blossoming quinces, —
    The first dear girl for whom we cared, —
    And got a rating, her father's rating, —
    Stands sweetly waiting, brown-eyed, brown-haired.

    Or, in the morning, without a warning,
    With health for luggage and love for spur,
    To make invasion, divine invasion,
    As suits occasion, of worlds for her.

    With her, as eager, again beleaguer
    The forest's fortress of leaf and log;
    And pierce its vastness, its gloomy vastness,
    And storm its fastness with stick and dog.

    And from its shadows' rich Eldorados
    The untold gold of blossoms bring:
    And, as in story, in song and story,
    Beard Wildness hoary, like some old king.

    Or lead lost legions through unknown regions,
    The pirate kings of isles unfound:
    On haystacks golden, our galleons golden,
    Sail oceans olden of meadow ground.

    And from those caitiffs, the hideous natives,
    Invisible tribes that swarm the wood,
    To rescue Molly, or Peg, or Polly,
    With her dear dolly as pirates should….

    O tanned and freckled and sunbeam-speckled!
    O barefoot joy that romped the years!
    O reckless rapture! O long-lost rapture!
    Beyond the capture of all our tears!

  4. The Boys

    by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

    Has there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
    If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
    Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite!
    Old Time is a liar! We're twenty to-night!

    We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are more?
    He's tipsy,— young jackanapes!— show him the door!
    "Gray temples at twenty?"— Yes! white if we please;
    Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze!

    Was it snowing I spoke of? Excuse the mistake!
    Look close,-- you will see not a sign of a flake!
    We want some new garlands for those we have shed,—
    And these are white roses in place of the red.

    We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told,
    Of talking (in public) as if we were old:—
    That boy we call "Doctor," and this we call "Judge;"
    It's a neat little fiction,— of course it's all fudge.

    That fellow's the "Speaker,"— the one on the right;
    "Mr. Mayor," my young one, how are you to-night?
    That's our "Member of Congress," we say when we chaff;
    There's the "Reverend" What's his name?— don't make me laugh.

    That boy with the grave mathematical look
    Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
    And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true!
    So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too!

    There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
    That could harness a team with a logical chain;
    When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
    We called him "The Justice," but now he's "The Squire."

    And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith,—
    Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
    But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,
    Just read on his medal, "My country," "of thee!"

    You hear that boy laughing?— You think he's all fun;
    But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
    The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
    And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!

    Yes, we're boys, —always playing with tongue or with pen,—
    And I sometimes have asked,— Shall we ever be men?
    Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay,
    Till the last dear companion drops smiling away?

    Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray!
    The stars of its winter, the dews of its May!
    And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
    Dear Father, take care of thy children, THE BOYS!

  5. The Ships of Yule

    by Bliss Carman

    When I was just a little boy,
    Before I went to school,
    I had a fleet of forty sail
    I called the Ships of Yule;

    Of every rig, from rakish brig
    And gallant barkentine,
    To little Fundy fishing boats
    With gunwales painted green.

    They used to go on trading trips
    Around the world for me,
    For though I had to stay on shore
    My heart was on the sea.

    They stopped at every port to call
    From Babylon to Rome,
    To load with all the lovely things
    We never had at home;

    With elephants and ivory
    Bought from the King of Tyre,
    And shells and silk and sandal-wood
    That sailor men admire;

    With figs and dates from Samarcand,
    And squatty ginger-jars,
    And scented silver amulets
    From Indian bazaars;

    With sugar-cane from Port of Spain,
    And monkeys from Ceylon,
    And paper lanterns from Pekin
    With painted dragons on;

    With cocoanuts from Zanzibar,
    And pines from Singapore;
    And when they had unloaded these
    They could go back for more.

    And even after I was big
    And had to go to school,
    My mind was often far away
    Aboard the Ships of Yule.

  6. The Barefoot Boy

    The Blue Boy
    The Blue Boy
    by Winslow Homer
    John Greenleaf Whittier

    Blessings on thee, little man,
    Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
    With thy turned-up pantaloons,
    And thy merry whistled tunes;
    With thy red lip, redder still
    Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
    With the sunshine on thy face,
    Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
    From my heart I give thee joy,—
    I was once a barefoot boy!
    Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
    Only is republican.
    Let the million-dollared ride!
    Barefoot, trudging, at his side,
    Thou hast more than he can buy
    In the reach of ear and eye,—
    Outward sunshine, inward joy:
    Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

    Oh for boyhood's painless play,
    Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
    Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
    Knowledge never learned of schools,
    Of the wild bee's morning chase,
    Of the wild flower's time and place,
    Flight of fowl and habitude
    Of the tenants of the wood;
    How the tortoise bears his shell,
    How the woodchuck digs his cell,
    And the ground mole sinks his well
    How the robin feeds her young,
    How the oriole's nest is hung;
    Where the whitest lilies blow,
    Where the freshest berries grow,
    Where the groundnut trails its vine,
    Where the wood grape's clusters shine;
    Of the black wasp's cunning way,
    Mason of his walls of clay,
    And the architectural plans
    Of gray hornet artisans!—
    For, eschewing books and tasks,
    Nature answers all he asks;
    Hand in hand with her he walks,
    Face to face with her he talks,
    Part and parcel of her joy,—
    Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

    Oh for boyhood's time of June,
    Crowding years in one brief moon,
    When all things I heard or saw
    Me, their master, waited for.
    I was rich in flowers and trees,
    Humming birds and honeybees;
    For my sport the squirrel played,
    Plied the snouted mole his spade;
    For my taste the blackberry cone
    Purpled over hedge and stone;
    Laughed the brook for my delight
    Through the day and through the night,
    Whispering at the garden wall,
    Talked with me from fall to fall;
    Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
    Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
    Mine, on bending orchard trees,
    Apples of Hesperides!
    Still, as my horizon grew,
    Larger grew my riches too;
    All the world I saw or knew
    Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
    Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

    Oh for festal dainties spread,
    Like my bowl of milk and bread,—
    Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
    On the doorstone, gray and rude!
    O'er me, like a regal tent,
    Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
    Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
    Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
    While for music came the play
    Of the pied frog's orchestra;
    And to light the noisy choir,
    Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
    I was monarch: pomp and joy
    Waited on the barefoot boy!

    Cheerily, then, my little man,
    Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
    Though the flinty slopes be hard,
    Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
    Every morn shall lead thee through
    Fresh baptisms of the dew;
    Every evening from thy feet
    Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
    All too soon these feet must hide
    In the prison cells of pride,
    Lose the freedom of the sod,
    Like a colt's for work be shod,
    Made to tread the mills of toil,
    Up and down in ceaseless moil:
    Happy if their track be found
    Never on forbidden ground;
    Happy if they sink not in
    Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
    Ah! that thou shouldst know thy joy
    Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

  7. Young Soldiers

    by Anonymous

    Oh, were you ne'er a schoolboy,
    And did you never train,
    And feel that swelling of the heart
    You ne'er can feel again?

    Did you never meet, far down the street,
    With plumes and banners gay,
    While the kettle, for the kettledrum,
    Played your march, march away?

    It seems to me but yesterday,
    Nor scarce so long ago,
    Since all our school their muskets took,
    To charge the fearful foe.

    Our muskets were of cedar wood,
    With ramrods bright and new;
    With bayonets forever set,
    And painted barrels, too.

    We charged upon a flock of geese,
    And put them all to flight—
    Except one sturdy gander
    That thought to show us fight.

    But, ah! we knew a thing or two;
    Our captain wheeled the van;
    We routed him, we scouted him,
    Nor lost a single man!

    Our captain was as brave a lad
    As e'er commission bore;
    And brightly shone his new tin sword;
    A paper cap he wore.

    He led us up the steep hillside,
    Against the western wind,
    While the cockerel plume that decked his head
    Streamed bravely out behind.

    We shouldered arms, we carried arms,
    We charged the bayonet;
    And woe unto the mullein stalk
    That in our course we met!

    At two o'clock the roll we called,
    And till the close of day,
    With fearless hearts, though tired limbs,
    We fought the mimic fray,—
    Till the supper bell, from out the dell,
    Bade us march, march away.

  8. Autumn

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    Dick and Will and Charles and I
    Were playing it was election day,
    And I was running for president,
    And Dick was a band that was going to play,

    And Charles and Will were a street parade,
    But Clarence came and said that he
    Was going to run for president,
    And I could run for school-trustee.

    He made some flags for Charles and Will
    And a badge to go on Dickie's coat.
    He stood some cornstalks by the fence
    And had them for the men that vote.

    Then he climbed on a box and made a speech
    To the cornstalk men that were in a row
    It was all about the dem-o-crats,
    And "I de-fy any man to show."

    And "I de-fy any man to say."
    And all about "It's a big disgrace."
    He spoke his speech out very loud
    And shook his fist in a cornstalk's face.

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