The springtime cataracts of children’s joy
Know few impediments: and are the world
With stern oppression stems the flow of bliss
In carefree gaiety the hours are joined,
Their unsuspected passing lost in play
While thrill on thrill exalts the guileless hours:
Discovery adds delights it only can
And over all a golden sunlight pours.
Enwrapped in love and humble piety,
Paternal eye to check extravagance,
Forbidden naught that tenuous means could give,
Too soon through childhood’s years the inmates sped.
Through busy hours serene in school and church
Were taught the precious annals of the race,
The truths, scarce then believed, but proved anon;
And music’s magic thrall was born to stay
As balm to soothe dark-winged adversity:
The heavenly glory of the bible’s tongue
That spoke of Man’s convictions as he strove
To grasp the eternal answer to his needs.
The play in public streets, the coster’s cry,
The child romance ephemeral and shy;
Games esoteric whiled away the hours:
The hopscotch, hits and spans, date-stones and screws,
Five-stones and marbles full of watery light
And all the weird parade of childhood lore.
Absorbed, content, the children asked no more;
And all was merry as the month of May
Until adult intrusion raised its head.
Inebriation’s curse would mar the scene,
Man’s panacea for all the ills of Man -
The grinding toil, the meagre wage, the home
Where all was discord and domestic strife.
Such punctuations rare could scarce debase
The pure and simple pastimes of the hour.
But others far more blessed were not to know
These obstacles that closed the road to joy.
So passed delightful years when all was young:
And over all the guardian hand divine
In heavenly grace and love outstretched to bless.
Fell poverty that by the door secure
For ever lurked, the guardian angel barred,
That ne‘er the stern demands of penury
Might greedily despoil this store of peace.
For all his watchfulness he could not stay
Th‘unpitying hand of all-devouring Death,
That called ere fifty years of motherhood
were spent in selfless service of her brood.
Nor knew the joy, the longing of her heart,
One day to see her offspring wear the crown
Of academic glory. ’Twas decreed
Lest some might fail to know from whence they sprang.
What coinage e’er devised could pay the debt?
In piteous thankless-ness the traitorous self
Has spurned the ensample of that selfless soul
And all unworthy of her care has proved.
The world closed round the promise of those years
And dimmed the glory of that nurturing hand.
’Tis done, alas, for ever now, dread thought;
Yet in her love may she o’erlook the shame
And find some trifle that was worthy of her.
No more; decades of care have passed between;
The years have clamped their shackles on the soul.