CHILD, when they say that others
Have been or are like you,
Babes fit to be your brothers,
Sweet human drops of dew,
Bright fruit of mortal mothers,
What should one say or do?
We know the thought is treason,
We feel the dream absurd;
A claim rebuked of reason,
That withers at a word:
For never shone the season
That bore so blithe a bird.
Some smiles may seem as merry,
Some glances gleam as wise,
From lips as like a cherry
And scarce less gracious eyes;
Eyes browner than a berry,
Lips red as morning's rise.
But never yet rang laughter
So sweet in gladdened ears
Through wall and floor and rafter
As all this household hears
And rings response thereafter
Till cloudiest weather clears.
When those your chosen of all men,
Whose honey never cloys,
Two lights whose smiles enthrall men,
Were called at your age boys,
Those mighty men, while small men,
Could make no merrier noise.
Our Shakespeare, surely, daffed not
More lightly pain aside
From radiant lips that quaffed not
Of forethought's tragic tide:
Our Dickens, doubtless, laughed not
More loud with life's first pride.
The dawn were not more cheerless
With neither light nor dew
Than we without the fearless
Clear laugh that thrills us through:
If ever child stood peerless,
Love knows that child is you.
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