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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1 - 70/114 -


I was rich in flowers and trees, Humming-birds and honey-bees; 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 door-stone, 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 frogs' 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 couldst know thy joy, Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

John Greenleaf Whittier [1807-1892]

THE HERITAGE

Thee rich man's son inherits lands, And piles of brick and stone, and gold, And he inherits soft white hands, And tender flesh that fears the cold, Nor dares to wear a garment old; A heritage, it seems to me, One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

The rich man's son inherits cares; The bank may break, the factory burn, A breath may burst his bubble shares, And soft white hands could hardly earn A living that would serve his turn; A heritage, it seems to me, One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

The rich man's son inherits wants, His stomach craves for dainty fare; With sated heart, he hears the pants Of toiling hinds with brown arms bare, And wearies in his easy-chair; A heritage, it seems to me, One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

What doth the poor man's son inherit? Stout muscles and a sinewy heart, A hardy frame, a hardier spirit, King of two hands, he does his part In every useful toil and art; A heritage, it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in fee.

What doth the poor man's son inherit? Wishes o'erjoyed with humble things, A rank adjudged by toil-won merit, Content that from employment springs, A heart that in his labor sings; A heritage, it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in fee.

What doth the poor man's son inherit? A patience learned of being poor, Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it, A fellow-feeling that is sure To make the outcast bless his door; A heritage, it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in fee.

O rich man's son! there is a toil That with all others level stands; Large charity doth never soil, But only whiten, soft white hands; This is the best crop from thy lands, A heritage, it seems to me, Worth being rich to hold in fee.

O poor man's son! scorn not thy state; There is worse weariness than thine, In merely being rich and great; Toil only gives the soul to shine, And makes rest fragrant and benign; A heritage, it seems to me, Worth being poor to hold in fee.

Both, heirs to some six feet of sod, Are equal in the earth at last; Both, children of the same dear God, Prove title to your heirship vast By record of a well-filled past; A heritage, it seems to me, Well worth a life to hold in fee.

James Russell Lowell [1819-1891]

LETTY'S GLOBE Or Some Irregularities In A First Lesson In Geography

When Letty had scarce passed her third glad year, And her young artless words began to flow, One day we gave the child a colored sphere Of the wide Earth, that she might mark and know, By tint and outline, all its sea and land. She patted all the world; old Empires peeped Between her baby fingers; her soft hand Was welcome at all frontiers. How she leaped, And laughed and prattled in her world-wide bliss! But when we turned her sweet unlearned eye On our own Isle, she raised a joyous cry, - "O yes! I see it, Letty's home is there!" And while she hid all England with a kiss, Bright over Europe fell her golden hair.

Charles Tennyson Turner [1808-1879]

DOVE'S NEST

"Sylvia, hush!" I said, "come here, Come see a fairy-tale, my dear! Tales told are good, tales seen are best!" The dove was brooding on the nest In the lowest crotch of the apple tree. I lifted her up so quietly, That when she could have touched the bird The soft gray creature had not stirred. It looked at us with a wild dark eye. But, "Birdie, fly!" was Sylvia's cry, Impatient Sylvia, "Birdie, fly." Ah, well: but when I touched the nest, The child recoiled upon my breast. Was ever such a startling thing? Sudden silver and purple wing, The dove was out, away, across, Struggling heart-break on the grass. And there in the cup within the tree Two milk-white eggs were ours to see. Was ever thing so pretty? Alack, "Birdie!" Sylvia cried, "come back!"

Joseph Russell Taylor [1868-1933]

THE ORACLE

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.


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1 - 70/114

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