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Poems About Children

Table of Contents

  1. The Credulous Child by Anonymous
  2. Children by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  3. To a Little Girl by Helen Parry Eden
  4. To a Little Girl by Gustav Kobbe
  5. The Oracle by Arthur Davison Ficke
  6. The Discoverer by Eugene Field
  7. "We Are Seven" by William Wordsworth
  8. On the Picture of a "Child Tired of Play" by Nathaniel Parker Willis
  9. Buttercups and Daisies by Mary Howitt
  10. Nikolina by Celia Thaxter
  11. Little Gustava by Celia Thaxter
  12. Prince Tatters by Laura E. Richards
  13. "Around the Child" by Walter Savage Landor
  14. A Sermon From the Pew In Front by Anonymous
  15. In the Garden by Ernest Crosby
  1. My Good-For-Nothing by Emily Huntington Miller
  2. The Shepherd Boy by Emily S. Oakey
  3. Which Loved Best by Joy Allison
  4. The Pert Chicken by Marian Douglas
  5. The Little People by John Greenleaf Whittier
  6. Jeannette and Jo by Mary Mapes Dodge
  7. Sleeping Child by Lydia Howard Sigourney
  8. The Child on the Beach by Hannah Flagg Gould
  9. The Unconscious Orphan by Hannah Flagg Gould
  10. A Child's Kiss by Arthur Weir
  11. Sunburnt Boys by John Charles McNeill
  12. Columbus by Helen L. Smith
  13. To A Child by Christopher Morley
  14. For a Birthday by Christopher Morley
  15. Butterflies by Anonymous
  16. I'm a Pirate by Annette Wynne
  17. Golden Hair by F. Burge Smith
  18. Little Fingers by Anonymous
  19. Two by Mary Mapes Dodge
  20. The Reformation of Godfrey Gore by William Brighty Rands
  21. Beautiful Things by Anonymous
  22. A City Garden by William Stanley Braithwaite
  23. At the Fireside by John Davis Long
  24. The Scholar by Annette Wynne
  25. Blue by Annette Wynne
  26. You Can Measure the Steeple by Annette Wynne

  1. The Credulous Child

    by Anonymous

    The older ones that know me best,
    And hear and weigh and see,
    Finding I somewhat bear the test,
    Somewhat believe in me.

    But oh, dear loyal little heart
    Though others hold aloof
    How sure of me thou always art
    Without a single proof!

    And now no reason's cool control
    So wins me to be true
    As this unthinking little soul
    That trusts me through and through.

  2. Children

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Come to me, O ye children!
    For I hear you at your play,
    And the questions that perplexed me
    Have vanished quite away.

    Ye open the eastern windows,
    That look towards the sun,
    Where thoughts are singing swallows
    And the brooks of morning run.

    In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
    In your thoughts the brooklet's flow,
    But in mine is the wind of Autumn
    And the first fall of the snow.

    Ah! what would the world be to us
    If the children were no more?
    We should dread the desert behind us
    Worse than the dark before.

    What the leaves are to the forest,
    With light and air for food,
    Ere their sweet and tender juices
    Have been hardened into wood,—

    That to the world are children;
    Through them it feels the glow
    Of a brighter and sunnier climate
    Than reaches the trunks below.

    Come to me, O ye children!
    And whisper in my ear
    What the birds and the winds are singing
    In your sunny atmosphere.

    For what are all our contrivings,
    And the wisdom of our books,
    When compared with your caresses,
    And the gladness of your looks?

  3. To a Little Girl

    by Helen Parry Eden

    You taught me ways of gracefulness and fashions of address,
    The mode of plucking pansies and the art of sowing cress,
    And how to handle puppies, with propitiatory pats
    For mother dogs, and little acts of courtesy to cats.

    O connoisseur of pebbles, colored leaves and trickling rills,
    Whom seasons fit as do the sheaths that wrap the daffodils,
    Whose eyes' divine expectancy foretells some starry goal,
    You taught me here docility—and how to save my soul.

  4. To a Little Girl

    by Gustav Kobbe

    Her eyes are like forget-me-nots,
    So loving, kind and true;
    Her lips are like a pink sea-shell
    Just as the sun shines through;

    Her hair is like the waving grain
    In summer's golden light;
    And, best of all, her little soul
    Is, like a lily, white.

  5. The Oracle

    by Arthur Davison Ficke

    I lay upon the summer grass.
    A gold-haired, sunny child came by,
    And looked at me, as loath to pass,
    With questions in her lingering eye.

    She stopped and wavered, then drew near,
    (Ah! the pale gold around her head!)
    And o'er my shoulder stopped to peer.
    "Why do you read?" she said.

    "I read a poet of old time,
    Who sang through all his living hours—
    Beauty of earth—the streams, the flowers—
    And stars, more lovely than his rhyme.

    "And now I read him, since men go,
    Forgetful of these sweetest things;
    Since he and I love brooks that flow,
    And dawns, and bees, and flash of wings!"

    She stared at me with laughing look,
    Then clasped her hands upon my knees:
    "How strange to read it in a book!
    I could have told you all of these!"

  6. The Discoverer

    by Eugene Field

    I have a little kinsman
    Whose earthly summers are but three,
    And yet a voyager is he
    Greater then Drake or Frobisher,
    Than all their peers together!
    He is a brave discoverer,
    And, far beyond the tether
    Of them who seek the frozen Pole,
    Has sailed where the noiseless surges roll.
    Ay, he has travelled whither
    A winged pilot steered his bark
    Through the portals of the dark,
    Past hoary Mimir's well and tree,
    Across the unknown sea.

    Suddenly, in his fair young hour,
    Came one who bore a flower,
    And laid it in his dimpled hand
    With this command:
    "Henceforth thou art a rover!
    Thou must make a voyage far,
    Sail beneath the evening star,
    And a wondrous land discover."
    —With his sweet smile innocent
    Our little kinsman went.

    Since that time no word
    From the absent has been heard.
    Who can tell
    How he fares, or answer well
    What the little one has found
    Since he left us, outward bound?
    Would that he might return!
    Then should we learn
    From the pricking of his chart
    How the skyey roadways part.
    Hush! does not the baby this way bring,
    To lay beside this severed curl,
    Some starry offering
    Of chrysolite or pearl?

    Ah, no! not so!
    We may follow on his track,
    But he comes not back.
    And yet I dare aver
    He is a brave discoverer
    Of climes his elders do not know.
    He has more learning than appears
    On the scroll of twice three thousand years,
    More than in the groves is taught,
    Or from furthest Indies brought;
    He knows, perchance, how spirits fare,—
    What shapes the angels wear,
    What is their guise and speech
    In those lands beyond our reach,—
    And his eyes behold
    Things that shall never, never be to mortal hearers told.

  7. "We Are Seven"

    by William Wordsworth

    A simple Child,
    That lightly draws its breath,
    And feels its life in every limb,
    What should it know of death?

    I met a little cottage Girl:
    She was eight years old, she said:
    Her hair was thick with many a curl
    That clustered round her head.

    She had a rustic, woodland air,
    And she was wildly clad:
    Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
    —Her beauty made me glad.

    "Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
    How many may you be?"
    "How many? Seven in all," she said,
    And wondering looked at me.

    "And where are they? I pray you tell."
    She answered, "Seven are we;
    And two of us at Conway dwell,
    And two are gone to sea;

    "Two of us in the church-yard lie,
    My sister and my brother;
    And, in the church-yard cottage, I
    Dwell near them with my mother."

    "You say that two at Conway dwell,
    And two are gone to sea,
    Yet ye are seven—I pray you tell,
    Sweet Maid, how this may be."

    Then did the little Maid reply,
    "Seven boys and girls are we;
    Two of us in the church-yard lie
    Beneath the church-yard tree."

    "You run about, my little Maid;
    Your limbs they are alive;
    If two are in the church-yard laid,
    Then ye are only five."

    "Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
    The little Maid replied:
    "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
    And they are side by side.

    "My stockings there I often knit,
    My kerchief there I hem;
    And there upon the ground I sit,
    And sing a song to them.

    "And often after sunset, Sir,
    When it is light and fair,
    I take my little porringer,
    And eat my supper there.

    "The first that died was sister Jane;
    In bed she moaning lay,
    Till God released her of her pain;
    And then she went away.

    "So in the church-yard she was laid;
    And, when the grass was dry,
    Together round her grave we played,
    My brother John and I.

    "And when the ground was white with snow,
    And I could run and slide,
    My brother John was forced to go,
    And he lies by her side."

    "How many are you, then," said I,
    "If they two are in heaven?"
    Quick was the little Maid's reply,
    "O Master! we are seven."

    "But they are dead; those two are dead!
    Their spirits are in heaven!"
    'Twas throwing words away; for still
    The little Maid would have her will,
    And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

  8. On the Picture of a "Child Tired of Play"

    by Nathaniel Parker Willis

    Tired of play! Tired of play!
    What hast thou done this live-long day!
    The bird is silent and so is the bee,
    The shadow is creeping up steeple and tree;
    The doves have flown to the sheltering eaves,
    And the nests are dark with the drooping leaves;
    Twilight gathers, and day is done,—
    How hast thou spent it, restless one?

    Playing! And what hast thou done beside
    To tell thy mother at eventide?
    What promise of morn is left unbroken?
    What kind word to thy playmate spoken?
    Whom hast thou pitied, and whom forgiven?
    How with thy faults has duty striven?
    What hast thou learned by field and hill,
    By greenwood path and by singing rill?

    There will come an eve to a longer day
    That will find thee tired,—but not with play!
    And thou wilt learn, as thou learnest now,
    With wearied limbs and aching brow,
    And wish the shadows would faster creep
    And long to go to thy quiet sleep.

    Well will it be for thee then if thou
    Art as free from sin and shame as now!
    Well for thee if thy tongue can tell
    A tale like this, of a day spent well!
    If thine open hand hath relieved distress,
    And thy pity hath sprung to wretchedness—
    If thou hast forgiven the sore offence
    And humbled thy heart with penitence;

    If Nature's voices have spoken to thee
    With her holy meanings, eloquently—
    If every creature hath won thy love, From the creeping worm to the brooding dove—
    If never a sad, low-spoken word
    Hath plead with thy human heart unheard—
    Then, when the night steals on, as now
    It will bring relief to thine aching brow,
    And, with joy and peace at the thought of rest,
    Thou wilt sink to sleep on thy mother's breast.

  9. Buttercups and Daisies

    by Mary Howitt

    Buttercups and daisies,
    Oh, the pretty flowers;
    Coming ere the spring time,
    To tell of sunny hours,
    While the trees are leafless,
    While the fields are bare,
    Buttercups and daisies
    Spring up here and there.

    Ere the snow-drop peepeth,
    Ere the crocus bold,
    Ere the early primrose
    Opes its paly gold,—
    Somewhere on the sunny bank
    Buttercups are bright;
    Somewhere midst the frozen grass
    Peeps the daisy white.

    Little hardy flowers,
    Like to children poor,
    Playing in their sturdy health
    By their mother's door.
    Purple with the north-wind,
    Yet alert and bold;
    Fearing not, and caring not,
    Though they be a-cold!

    What to them is winter!
    What are stormy showers!
    Buttercups and daisies
    Are these human flowers!
    He who gave them hardships
    And a life of care,
    Gave them likewise hardy strength
    And patient hearts to bear.

  10. Nikolina

    by Celia Thaxter

    O tell me, little children, have you seen her—
    The tiny maid from Norway, Nikolina?
    O, her eyes are blue as cornflowers, mid the corn,
    And her cheeks are rosy red as skies of morn!

    Nikolina! swift she turns if any call her,
    As she stands among the poppies, hardly taller,
    Breaking off their scarlet cups for you,
    With spikes of slender larkspur, burning blue.

    In her little garden many a flower is growing—
    Red, gold, and purple in the soft wind blowing,
    But the child that stands amid the blossoms gay
    Is sweeter, quainter, brighter e'en than they.

  11. Little Gustava

    by Celia Thaxter

    Little Gustava sits in the sun,
    Safe in the porch, and the little drops run
    From the icicles under the eaves so fast,
    For the bright spring sun shines warm at last,
    And glad is little Gustava.

    She wears a quaint little scarlet cap,
    And a little green bowl she holds in her lap,
    Filled with bread and milk to the brim,
    And a wreath of marigolds round the rim:
    "Ha! ha!" laughs little Gustava.

    Up comes her little gray coaxing cat
    With her little pink nose, and she mews, "What's that?"
    Gustava feeds her,—she begs for more;
    And a little brown hen walks in at the door:
    "Good day!" cries little Gustava.

    She scatters crumbs for the little brown hen.
    There comes a rush and a flutter, and then
    Down fly her little white doves so sweet,
    With their snowy wings and crimson feet:
    "Welcome!" cries little Gustava.

    So dainty and eager they pick up the crumbs.
    But who is this through the doorway comes?
    Little Scotch terrier, little dog Rags,
    Looks in her face, and his funny tail wags:
    "Ha! ha!" laughs little Gustava.

    "You want some breakfast too?" and down
    She sets her bowl on the brick floor brown;
    And little dog Rags drinks up her milk,
    While she strokes his shaggy locks like silk:
    "Dear Rags!" says little Gustava.

    Waiting without stood sparrow and crow,
    Cooling their feet in the melting snow:
    "Won't you come in, good folk?" she cried.
    But they were too bashful, and stood outside
    Though "Pray come in!" cried Gustava.

    So the last she threw them, and knelt on the mat
    With doves and biddy and dog and cat.
    And her mother came to the open house-door:
    "Dear little daughter, I bring you some more.
    My merry little Gustava!"

    Kitty and terrier, biddy and doves,
    All things harmless Gustava loves.
    The shy, kind creatures 'tis joy to feed,
    And oh, her breakfast is sweet indeed
    To happy little Gustava!

  12. Prince Tatters

    by Laura E. Richards [1850-

    Little Prince Tatters has lost his cap!
    Over the hedge he threw it;
    Into the river it fell "kerslap!"
    Stupid old thing to do it!
    Now Mother may sigh and Nurse may fume
    For the gay little cap with its eagle plume.
    "One cannot be thinking all day of such matters!
    Trifles are trifles!" says little Prince Tatters.

    Little Prince Tatters has lost his coat!
    Playing, he did not need it;
    "Left it right there, by the nanny-goat,
    And nobody never seed it!"
    Now Mother and Nurse may search till night
    For the little new coat with its buttons bright;
    But—"Coat-sleeves or shirt-sleeves, how little it matters!
    Trifles are trifles!" says little Prince Tatters.

    Little Prince Tatters has LOST HIS BALL!
    Rolled away down the street!
    Somebody'll have to find it, that's all,
    Before he can sleep or eat.
    Now raise the neighborhood, quickly, do!
    And send for the crier and constable too!
    "Trifles are trifles; but serious matters,
    They must be seen to," says little Prince Tatters.

  13. "Around the Child"

    by Walter Savage Landor

    Around the child bend all the three
    Sweet Graces—Faith, Hope, Charity.
    Around the man bend other faces
    Pride, Envy, Malice, are his Graces.

  14. A Sermon From the Pew In Front

    by Anonymous

    There's a lesson you may learn
    When the little children turn
    Squarely, fairly, in their pew,
    And as squarely gaze at you.

    Sweet their eyes are, sweet and pure,
    Modest also and demure,
    Happy, innocent, sincere,
    Gazing with no thought of fear.

    Should the older people thus
    Turn about and look at us,
    Would their gaze as steady be,
    Truthful, brave, and folly free?

  15. In the Garden

    by Ernest Crosby

    I spied beside the garden bed
    A tiny lass of ours,
    Who stopped and bent her sunny head
    Above the red June flowers.

    Pushing the leaves and thorns apart,
    She singled out a rose,
    And in its inmost crimson heart,
    Enraptured, plunged her nose.

    "O dear, dear rose, come, tell me true—
    Come, tell me true," said she,
    "If I smell just as sweet to you
    As you smell sweet to me!"

  16. My Good-For-Nothing

    by Emily Huntington Miller

    "What are you good for, my brave little man?
    Answer that question for me, if you can,—
    You, with your fingers as white as a nun,—
    You, with your ringlets as bright as the sun.
    All the day long, with your busy contriving,
    Into all mischief and fun you are driving;
    See if your wise little noddle can tell
    What you are good for. Now ponder it well."

    Over the carpet the dear little feet
    Came with a patter to climb on my seat;
    Two merry eyes, full of frolic and glee,
    Under their lashes looked up unto me;
    Two little hands pressing soft on my face,
    Drew me down close in a loving embrace;
    Two rosy lips gave the answer so true,
    "Good to love you, mamma, good to love you."

  17. The Shepherd Boy

    by Emily S. Oakey

    Little Roy led his sheep down to pasture,
    And his cows, by the side of the brook;
    But his cows never drank any water,
    And his sheep never needed a crook.

    For the pasture was gay as a garden,
    And it glowed with a flowery red;
    But the meadows had never a grass blade,
    And the brooklet—it slept in its bed:

    And it lay without sparkle or murmur,
    Nor reflected the blue of the skies;
    But the music was made by the shepherd,
    And the sparkle was all in his eyes.

    Oh, he sang like a bird in the summer!
    And, if sometimes you fancied a bleat,
    That, too, was the voice of the shepherd,
    And not of the lambs at his feet.

    And the glossy brown cows were so gentle
    That they moved at the touch of his hand
    O'er the wonderful, rosy-red meadow,
    And they stood at the word of command.

    So he led all his sheep to the pasture,
    And his cows, by the side of the brook;
    Though it rained, yet the rain never pattered
    O'er the beautiful way that they took.

    And it was n't in Fairyland either,
    But a house in the midst of the town,
    Where Roy, as he looked from the window,
    Saw the silvery drops trickle down.

    For his pasture was only a table,
    With its cover so flowery fair,
    And his brooklet was just a green ribbon,
    That his sister had lost from her hair.

    And his cows were but glossy horse-chestnuts,
    That had grown on his grandfather's tree;
    And his sheep only snowy-white pebbles,
    He had brought from the shore of the sea.

    And at length when the shepherd was weary,
    And had taken his milk and his bread,
    And his mother had kissed him and tucked him,
    And had bid him "good night" in his bed;

    Then there entered his big brother Walter,
    While the shepherd was soundly asleep,
    And he cut up the cows into baskets,
    And to jackstones turned all of the sheep.

  18. Which Loved Best

    by Joy Allison

    "I love you, mother," said little John;
    Then, forgetting work, his cap went on,
    And he was off to the garden swing,
    Leaving his mother the wood to bring.

    "I love you, mother," said rosy Nell;
    "I love you better than tongue can tell;"
    Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
    Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

    "I love you, mother," said little Fan;
    "To-day I'll help you all I can;
    How glad I am that school doesn't keep!"
    So she rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

    Then, stepping softly, she took the broom,
    And swept the floor, and dusted the room;
    Busy and happy all day was she,
    Helpful and cheerful as child could be.

    "I love you, mother," again they said—
    Three little children going to bed;
    How do you think that mother guessed
    Which of them really loved her best?

  19. The Pert Chicken

    by Marian Douglas

    There was once a pretty chicken;
    But his friends were very few,
    For he thought that there was nothing
    In the world but what he knew:
    So he always, in the farmyard,
    Had a very forward way,
    Telling all the hens and turkeys
    What they ought to do and say.
    "Mrs. Goose," he said, "I wonder
    That your goslings you should let
    Go out paddling in the water;
    It will kill them to get wet."

    "I wish, my old Aunt Dorking,"
    He began to her, one day,
    "That you wouldn't sit all summer
    In your nest upon the hay.
    Won't you come out to the meadow,
    Where the grass with seeds is filled?"
    "If I should," said Mrs. Dorking,
    "Then my eggs would all get chilled."
    "No, they won't," replied the chicken,
    "And no matter if they do;
    Eggs are really good for nothing;
    What's an egg to me or you?"

    "What's an egg!" said Mrs. Dorking,
    "Can it be you do not know
    You yourself were in an eggshell
    Just one little month ago?
    And, if kind wings had not warmed you,
    You would not be out to-day,
    Telling hens, and geese, and turkeys,
    What they ought to do and say!

    "To be very wise, and show it,
    Is a pleasant thing, no doubt;
    But, when young folks talk to old folks,
    They should know what they're about."

  20. The Little People

    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    A dreary place would be this earth,
    Were there no little people in it;
    The song of life would lose its mirth,
    Were there no children to begin it;

    No little forms, like buds to grow,
    And make the admiring heart surrender;
    No little hands on breast and brow,
    To keep the thrilling love chords tender.

    The sterner souls would grow more stern,
    Unfeeling nature more inhuman,
    And man to utter coldness turn,
    And woman would be less than woman.

    Life's song, indeed, would lose its charm,
    Were there no babies to begin it;
    A doleful place this world would be,
    Were there no little people in it.

  21. Jeannette and Jo

    by Mary Mapes Dodge, who was born in New York City in 1838. She is the editor of the "St. Nicholas" magazine, and has written many stories for children.

    Two girls I know—Jeannette and Jo,
    And one is always moping;
    The other lassie, come what may,
    Is ever bravely hoping.

    Beauty of face and girlish grace
    Are theirs, for joy or sorrow;
    Jeannette takes brightly every day,
    And Jo dreads each to-morrow.

    One early morn they watched the dawn—
    I saw them stand together;
    Their whole day's sport, 't was very plain,
    Depended on the weather.

    "'T will storm!" cried Jo. Jeannette spoke low;
    "Yes, but 't will soon be over."
    And, as she spoke, the sudden shower
    Came, beating down the clover.

    "I told you so!" cried angry Jo:
    "It always is a-raining!"
    Then hid her face in dire despair,
    Lamenting and complaining.

    But sweet Jeannette, quite hopeful yet,—
    I tell it to her honor,—
    Looked up and waited till the sun
    Came streaming in upon her.

    The broken clouds sailed off in crowds,
    Across a sea of glory.
    Jeannette and Jo ran, laughing, in—
    Which ends my simple story.

    Joy is divine. Come storm, come shine,
    The hopeful are the gladdest;
    And doubt and dread, children, believe
    Of all things are the saddest.

    In morning's light, let youth be bright;
    Take in the sunshine tender;
    Then, at the close, shall life's decline
    Be full of sunset splendor.

    And ye who fret, try, like Jeannette,
    To shun all weak complaining;
    And not, like Jo, cry out too soon—
    "It always is a-raining!"

  22. Sleeping Child

    by Lydia Howard Sigourney

    Sleep, dearest, long and sweet,
    With smile upon thy brow,
    Thy restless, tottering feet
    Are surely weary now,
    Trotting about all day
    Upon the nursery-floor,
    Or happier still to play
    Among the wild-flowers gay
    Beside thy father's door.

    Thy little laughing eyes,
    How tranquilly they rest,
    Thy tiny fingers clasp'd
    Upon thy guiltless breast,
    While o'er thy placid face
    The stealing moonbeams fall,
    And with a heaven-taught grace
    Thy baby features trace
    Upon the shaded wall.

    Sleep, dearest! She whose ear
    Her nursing-infant's sigh
    Hath never waked to hear
    When midnight's hush was nigh,
    Ne'er felt its balmy kiss
    The cradle-care repay,
    Hath she not chanced to miss
    The deepest, purest bliss
    That cheers life's pilgrim-way?

    To see each budding power
    Thy Maker's goodness bless,
    To catch the manna-shower
    Of thy full tenderness,
    The immortal mind to train—
    No more divine employ
    Thy mother seeks to gain,
    Until her spirit drain
    The seraph cup of joy.

  23. The Child on the Beach

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Mary, a beautiful, artless child,
    Came down on the beach to me,
    Where I sat, and a pensive hour beguiled
    By watching the restless sea.

    I never had seen her face before,
    And mine was to her unknown;
    But we each rejoiced on that peaceful shore
    The other to meet alone.

    Her cheek was the rose's opening bud,
    Her brow of an ivory white;
    Her eyes were bright, as the stars that stud
    The sky of a cloudless night.

    To reach my side as she gaily sped,
    With the step of a hounding fawn,
    The pebbles scarce moved beneath her tread,
    Ere the little, light foot was gone.

    With the love of a holier world than this,
    Her innocent heart seemed warm;
    While the glad, young spirit looked out with bliss
    From its shrine, in her sylph-like form.

    Her soul seemed spreading the scene to span,
    That opened before her view,
    And longing for power to look the plan
    Of the universe fairly through.

    She climbed and stood on the rocky steep,
    Like a bird that would mount and fly
    Far over the waves, where the broad, blue deep
    Rolled up to the bending sky.

    She placed her lips to the spiral shell,
    And breathed through every fold.
    She looked for the depth of its pearly cell
    As a miser would look for gold.

    Her small white fingers were spread to toss
    The foam as it reached the strand.
    She ran them along in the purple mess,
    And over the sparkling sand.

    The green sea-egg by its tenant left,
    And formed to an ocean cup,
    She held by its sides, of their spears bereft,
    To fill, as the waves rolled up.

    But the hour went round, and she knew the space
    Her mother's soft word assigned;
    While she seemed to look with a saddening face
    On all she must leave behind.

    She searched 'mid the pebbles, and, finding one
    Smooth, clear, and of amber die,
    She held it up to the morning sun,
    And over her own mild eye.

    Then, 'Here,' said she, 'I will give you this,
    That you may remember me!'
    And she sealed her gift with a parting kiss,
    And fled from beside the sea.

    Mary, thy token is by me yet.
    To me 't is a dearer gem
    Than ever was brought from the mine, or set
    In the loftiest diadem.

    It carries me back to the far-off deep,
    And places me on the shore,
    Where the beauteous child, who bade me keep
    Her pebble, I meet once more.

    And all that is lovely, pure and bright
    In a soul that is young, and free
    From the stain of guile, and the deadly blight
    Of sorrow, I find in thee.

    I wonder if ever thy tender heart
    In memory meets me there,
    Where thy soft, quick sigh, as we had to part,
    Was caught by the ocean air.

    Blest one! over time's rude shore, on thee
    May an angel guard attend,
    And 'a white stone bearing a new name,' be
    Thy passport when time shall end!

  24. The Unconscious Orphan

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Mother, I have found a tear
    In your eye! How came it here?
    More are coming; now they chase
    One another down your face.
    How I feel your bosom heave!
    What does make you sob and grieve?
    Let me wipe your tears away,
    Or I cannot go to play.

    Why is father sleeping so?
    Put me down, and let me go—
    Let me go, where I can stand
    Near enough to reach his hand.
    Why! it feels as stiff and cold
    As a piece of ice, to hold!
    Lift me up to kiss his cheek;
    Then, perhaps, he'll wake and speak.

    Mother, oh! it isn't he,
    For he will not look at me!
    Father hadn't cheeks so white!
    See, the lips are fastened tight!
    Father always spoke and smiled,
    Calling me his 'darling child;'
    He would give and ask a kiss,
    When I came; but who is this?

    If 't is father, has he done
    Speaking to his little one?
    Will he never, never more
    Know and love me, as before?
    Could he hear what we have said?
    Tell me; what is being dead?
    O! he does'nt breathe a breath!
    Mother, what's the cause of death?

  25. A Child's Kiss

    by Arthur Weir

    Sweet is the maiden's kiss that tells
    The secret of her heart;
    Holy the wife's—yet in them dwells
    Of earthliness a part;

    While in a little child's warm kiss
    Is naught but heaven above,
    So sweet it is, so pure it is,
    So full of faith and love.

    'Tis like a violet in May
    That knows nor fear nor harm,
    But cheers the wanderer on his way
    With its unconscious charm.

    'Tis like a bird that carols free,
    And thinks not of reward,
    But gives the world its melody
    Because it is a bard.

  26. Sunburnt Boys

    by John Charles McNeill

    Down on the Lumbee river
    Where the eddies ripple cool
    Your boat, I know, glides stealthily
    About some shady pool.
    The summer's heats have lulled asleep
    The fish-hawk's chattering noise,
    And all the swamp lies hushed about
    You sunburnt boys.

    You see the minnow's waves that rock
    The cradled lily leaves.
    From a far field some farmer's song,
    Singing among his sheaves,
    Comes mellow to you where you sit,
    Each man with boatman's poise,
    There, in the shimmering water lights,
    You sunburnt boys.

    I know your haunts: each gnarly bole
    That guards the waterside,
    Each tuft of flags and rushes where
    The river reptiles hide,
    Each dimpling nook wherein the bass
    His eager life employs
    Until he dies—the captive of
    You sunburnt boys.

    You will not—will you?—soon forget
    When I was one of you,
    Nor love me less that time has borne
    My craft to currents new;
    Nor shall I ever cease to share
    Your hardships and your joys,
    Robust, rough-spoken, gentle-hearted
    Sunburnt boys!

  27. Columbus

    by Helen L. Smith

    A harbor in a sunny, southern city;
    Ships at their anchor, riding in the lee;
    A little lad, with steadfast eyes, and dreamy,
    Who ever watched the waters lovingly.

    A group of sailors, quaintly garbed and bearded;
    Strange tales, that snared the fancy of the child:
    Of far-off lands, strange beasts, and birds, and people,
    Of storm and sea-fight, danger-filled and wild.

    And ever in the boyish soul was ringing
    The urging, surging challenge of the sea,
    To dare,—as these men dared, its wrath and danger,
    To learn,—as they, its charm and mystery.

    Columbus, by the sunny, southern harbor,
    You dreamed the dreams that manhood years made true;
    Thank God for men—their deeds have crowned the ages—
    Who once were little dreamy lads like you.

  28. To A Child

    by Christopher Morley

    The greatest poem ever known
    Is one all poets have outgrown:
    The poetry, innate, untold,
    Of being only four years old.

    Still young enough to be a part
    Of Nature's great impulsive heart,
    Born comrade of bird, beast and tree
    And unselfconscious as the bee—

    And yet with lovely reason skilled
    Each day new paradise to build;
    Elate explorer of each sense,
    Without dismay, without pretence!

    In your unstained transparent eyes
    There is no conscience, no surprise:
    Life's queer conundrums you accept,
    Your strange divinity still kept.

    Being, that now absorbs you, all
    Harmonious, unit, integral,
    Will shred into perplexing bits,—
    Oh, contradictions of the wits!

    And Life, that sets all things in rhyme,
    May make you poet, too, in time—
    But there were days, O tender elf,
    When you were Poetry itself!

  29. For a Birthday

    by Christopher Morley

    At two years old the world he sees
    Must seem expressly made to please!
    Such new-found words and games to try,
    Such sudden mirth, he knows not why,
    So many curiosities!

    As life about him, by degrees
    Discloses all its pageantries
    He watches with approval shy
    At two years old.

    With wonders tired he takes his ease
    At dusk, upon his mother's knees:
    A little laugh, a little cry,
    Put toys to bed, then "seepy-bye"—
    The world is made of such as these
    At two years old.

  30. Butterflies

    by Anonymous

    Two golden butterflies, hither, thither flying,
    Zig-zag and round about, every blossom trying;
    Flitting now together, now awhile they sever;
    Pretty golden butterflies, will you play forever?

    My little Goldenhair, almost like a fairy,
    Rivals the butterflies in their flittings airy;
    All their flying follows, through the nodding daisies,
    Still cannot catch them in their pretty mazes.

    Dear Golden-butterfly, through the meadow dancing,
    With your flying tangled curls in the sunshine glancing,
    Keep time with the butterflies, gold-winged, moving ever,—
    Play on, all three dearies! Your now is forever.

    Little know the butterflies of what comes to-morrow,
    Little knows my Butterfly of a thought of sorrow.
    God sees that each childhood has its time of daisies
    And of golden butterflies in their pretty mazes.

  31. I'm a Pirate

    by Annette Wynne

    I'm a pirate in the grass—
    Hear ye people as ye pass;
    I'm a pirate bad and bold,
    Taking dandelion gold—
    All my hands and ships can hold.

    I'm a pirate—how the sun
    Glitters on the gold I've won;
    I shall buy you house and land
    And a castle silver-grand
    With the gold within my hand.

  32. Golden Hair

    by Author

    Golden Hair climbed upon Grandpapa’s knee,
    Dear little Golden Hair! tired was she,
    All the day busy as busy could be.

    Up in the morning as soon as ’twas light.
    Out with the birds and the butterflies bright,
    Skipping about till the coming of night.

    Grandpapa toyed with the curls on her head:
    “What has my baby been doing, ”he said,
    “Since she arose, with the sun, from her bed?”

    “Pitty much,” answered the sweet little one;
    “I cannot tell so much things I have done—
    Played with my dolly, and feeded my Bun.

    “And then I have jumped with my little jump-rope,
    And then I made, out of some water and soap,
    Bootiful worlds, mamma’s castles of hope.

    I afterward have readed in my picture book,
    And Bella and I, we went down to look
    For smooth little stones by the side of the brook.

    “Then I comed home, and I eated my tea,
    And then I climbed up on Grandpapa’s knee.
    And I jes’ as tired as tired can be.”

    Lower and lower the little head pressed,
    Until it drooped upon Grandpapa’s breast;
    Dear little Golden Hair! sweet be thy rest.

    We are but children; the things that we do
    Are as sports of the baby to the infinite view.
    That marks all our weakness, and pities it, too.

    God grant that when night overshadows our way,
    And we shall be called to account for our day,
    It shall find us as guiltless as Golden Hair’s lay.

  33. Little Fingers

    by Anonymous

    Busy little fingers,
    Everywhere they go,
    Rosy little fingers,
    The sweetest that I know!

    Now into my work-box,
    All the buttons finding,
    Tangling up the knitting,
    Every spool unwinding!

    Now into the basket
    Where the keys are hidden,
    Full of mischief looking,
    Knowing it forbidden.

    Then in mother’s tresses,
    Now her neck enfolding,
    With such sweet caresses
    Keeping off a scolding.

    Daring little fingers,
    Never, never still!
    Make them, Heavenly Father,
    Always do Thy will.

  34. Two

    by Mary Mapes Dodge

    Two little girls are better than one,
    Two little boys can double the fun,
    Two little birds can build a fine nest,
    Two little arms can love mother best
    Two little ponies must go to a span;
    Two little pockets has my little man,
    Two little eyes to open and close,
    Two little ears and one little nose,
    Two little elbows, dimpled and sweet,
    Two little shoes on two little feet,
    Two little lips and one little chin,
    Two little cheeks with a rose shut in;
    Two little shoulders, chubby and strong,
    Two little legs running all day long.
    Two little prayers does my darling say,
    Twice does he kneel by my side each day—
    Two little folded hands, soft and brown,
    Two little eyelids cast meekly down—
    And two little angels guard him in bed,
    “One at the foot, and one at the head.”

  35. O eyes that open

    by Anonymous

    O eyes that open to the light,
    Look straight to Heav'n with glances bright
    And beam out thanks to God above
    That He has blessed us with His love.

    O little hands be quick to share
    The praise, and fold yourselves in prayer.
    An infant’s prayer must ever rise,
    A grateful incense to the skies.

    O little mind, so weak, distraught,
    Choose thou for subjoct of thy thought
    The loving God, who through the night
    Has kept His little child in sight.

    Open, O little lips, proclaim
    The Father’s love, and bless His name,
    And then a glad “good morning” sound
    To all the dear companions round.

  36. The Reformation of Godfrey Gore

    by William Brighty Rands

    Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore—
    No doubt you have heard the name before—
    Was a boy who never would shut a door!

    The wind might whistle, the wind might roar,
    And teeth be aching and throats be sore,
    But still he never would shut the door.

    His father would beg, his mother implore,
    "Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
    We really do wish you would shut the door!"

    Their hands they wrung, their hair they tore;
    But Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore
    Was deaf as the buoy out at the Nore.

    When he walked forth the folks would roar,
    "Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
    Why don't you think to shut the door?"

    They rigged out a Shutter with sail and oar,
    And threatened to pack off Gustavus Gore
    On a voyage of penance to Singapore.

    But he begged for mercy, and said, "No more!
    Pray do not send me to Singapore
    On a Shutter, and then I will shut the door!"

    "You will?" said his parents; "then keep on shore!
    But mind you do! For the plague is sore
    Of a fellow that never will shut the door,
    Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore!"

  37. Beautiful Things

    by Anonymous

    O many things are beautiful!
    The bird that sings and flies;
    The setting sun
    When day is done;
    The rainbow in the skies.

    The gentle lamb, so innocent,
    The dove, so tender, true,
    The violets,
    With dew drops wet,
    So sweet and fair to view.

    But there is one more beautiful,
    More tender, sweet and mild:—
    The girl or boy,
    A parent’s joy,—
    The loved and loving child.


    3Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

    4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

    5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

    – Psalm 127:3-5
    KJV

  38. A City Garden

    by William Stanley Braithwaite

    Hid in a close and lowly nook
    In a city yard where no grass grows—
    Wherein nor sun, nor stars may look
    Full-faced,—are planted three short rows
    Of pansies, geraniums, and a rose.

    A little girl with quiet, wide eyes,
    Slender figured, in tattered gown,
    Whose pallored face no country skies
    Have quickened to a healthy brown,
    Made this garden in the barren town.

    Poor little flowers, your life is hard;
    No sun, nor wind, nor evening dew.
    Poor little maid, whose city yard
    Is a world of happy dreams to you—
    God grant some day your dreams come true.

  39. At the Fireside

    by John Davis Long

    At nightfall by the firelight's cheer
    My little Margaret sits me near,
    And begs me tell of things that were
    When I was little, just like her.

    Ah, little lips, you touch the spring
    Of sweetest sad remembering;
    And hearth and heart flash all aglow
    With ruddy tints of long ago!

    I at my father's fireside sit,
    Youngest of all who circle it,
    And beg him tell me what did he
    When he was little, just like me.

  40. The Scholar

    by Annette Wynne

    When I was ignorant and small
    I used to have great fun all day,
    But now that I am wise and tall
    I must pretend I never play;
    And so whenever people look
    I keep my eyes tight on my book.

  41. Blue

    by Annette Wynne

    When God made everything
    I'm glad he had a lot of blue-
    A great big sky for all the world
    And eyes like yours for you.

  42. You Can Measure the Steeple

    by Annette Wynne

    You can measure the steeple that's close to the sky,
    You can burrow to where the gold grains lie,
    But a little girl's wonder is very big—
    Too high to climb and too deep to dig.