Childhood

Original Text: 
The Poetical Works of David Bates, ed. Stockton Bates (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger, 1870): 63-65. Wesleyan University Library
1Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
2    With its careless, thoughtless air,
3Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
4    Wants the training hand of care.
5See it springing all around us --
6    Glad to know, and quick to learn;
7Asking questions that confound us;
8    Teaching lessons in its turn.
9Who loves not its joyous revel,
10    Leaping lightly on the lawn,
11Up the knoll, along the level,
12    Free and graceful as a fawn?
13Let it revel; it is nature
14    Giving to the little dears
15Strength of limb, and healthful features,
16    For the toil of coming years.
17He who checks a child with terror,
18    Stops its play, and stills its song,
19Not alone commits an error,
20    But a great and moral wrong.
21Give it play, and never fear it --
22    Active life is no defect;
23Never, never break its spirit --
24    Curb it only to direct.
25Would you dam the flowing river,
26    Thinking it would cease to flow?
27Onward it must go forever --
28    Better teach it where to go.
29Childhood is a fountain welling,
30    Trace its channel in the sand,
31And its currents, spreading, swelling,
32    Will revive the withered land.
33Childhood is the vernal season;
34    Trim and train the tender shoot;
35Love is to the coming reason,
36    As the blossom to the fruit.
37Tender twigs are bent and folded --
38    Art to nature beauty lends;
39Childhood easily is moulded;
40    Manhood breaks, but seldom bends.
Publication Start Year: 
1849
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
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