To Little Mary.

I’m bidden, little Mary ! 1
To write verses upon thee ;2
I’d fain obey the bidding 3
If it rested but with me : 4
But the Mistresses I’m bound to, 5
( Nine Ladies hard to please,) 6
Of all their stores poetic, 7
So closely keep the keys, 8
It’s only now and then, 9
By good luck as one may say, 10
That a couplet or a rhyme or two, 11
Falls fairly in my way.12
Fruit forced is never half so sweet 13
As that comes quite in season14
But some folks must be satisfied 15
With rhyme in spite of reason. 16
So, Muses ! now befriend me, 17
Albeit of help so chary, 18
To string the pearls of poesie,19
For loveliest Little Mary.20
And yet, ye pagan Damsels ! 21
Not over fond am I,22
T’ invoke your haughty favours, 23
Your fount of Castaly. 24
I’ve sipt a purer fountain, 25
I’ve deck’d a holier shrine, 26
I own a mightier Mistress— 27
O Nature ! Thou art mine. 28
And Feeling’s fount, than Castaly 29
Yields waters more divine !30
And only to that well-head, 31
Sweet Mary ! I’ll resort, 32
For just an artless verse or two, 33
A simple strain and short, 34
Befitting well a Pilgrim 35
Way-worn with earthly strife, 36
To offer thee, young Traveller ! 37
In the morning track of life.38
There’s many a one will tell thee, 39
’Tis all with roses gay40
There’s many a one will tell thee, 41
’Tis thorny all the way42
Deceivers are they every one, 43
Dear Child ! who thus pretend ; 44
God’s ways are not unequal— 45
Make Him thy trusted friend, 46
And many a path of pleasantness 47
He’ll clear away for thee, 48
However dark and intricate 49
The labyrinth may be.50
I need not wish thee beauty— 51
I need not wish thee grace52
Already both are budding 53
In that infant form and face. 54
I will not wish thee grandeur— 55
I will not wish thee wealth56
But only a contented heart, 57
Peace—competence—and health58
Fond friends to love thee dearly, 59
And honest friends to chide, 60
And faithful ones to cleave to thee, 61
Whatever may betide.62
And now, my little Mary ! 63
If better things remain, 64
Unheeded in my blindness, 65
Unnoticed in my strain, 66
I’ll sum them up succinctly, 67
In “ English undefiled,” 68
My Mother tongue’s best benison,— 69
God bless thee—precious Child !70