Lines to a Little Boy.

My winsome one, my handsome one, my darling little boy,1
The heart’s pride of thy mother, and thy father’s chiefest joy ;2
Come ride upon my shoulder, come sit upon my knee,3
And prattle all the nonsense that I love to hear from thee :4
With thine eyes of merry lustre, and thy pretty lisping tongue,5
And thy heart that evermore lets out its humming happy song ;6
With thy thousand tricks so gleesome, which I bear without annoy,7
Come to my arms, come to my soul, my darling little boy !8
My winsome one, my fairest one, they say that later years9
Will sometimes change a parent’s hope for bitter grief and tears :10
But thou, so innocent ! canst thou be aught but what thou art,11
And all this bloom of feeling with the bloom of face depart ?12
Canst thou this tabernacle fair, where God reigns bright within,13
Profane, like Judah’s children, with the pagan rites of sin ?14
No—no, so much I’ll cherish thee, so clasped we’ll be in one,15
That bugbear guilt shall only get the father with the son ;16
And thou, perceiving that the grief must me at least destroy,17
Wilt still be fair and innocent, my darling little boy !18
My gentle one, my blessed one, can that time ever be,19
When I to thee shall be severe, or thou unkind to me ?20
Can any change which time may bring, this glowing passion
Or clench with rage the little hand now fondling round my neck ?22
Can this community of sport, to which love brings me down,23
Give way to anger’s kindling glance, and hate’s malignant frown ?24
No—no, that time can ne’er arrive, for, whatsoe’er befall,25
This heart shall still be wholly thine, or shall not be at all ;26
And to an offering like this thou canst not e’er be coy,27
But still wilt be my faithful and my gentle little boy !28
My winsome one, my gallant one, so fair, so happy now,29
With thy bonnet set so proudly upon thy shining brow,30
With thy fearless bounding motions, and thy laugh of thought-
less glee,
So circled by a father’s love which wards each ill from thee !32
Can I suppose another time when this shall all be o’er,33
And thy cheek shall wear the ruddy badge of happiness no more ;34
When all who now delight in thee far elsewhere shall have gone,35
And thou shalt pilgrimise through life, unfriended and alone,36
Without an aid to strengthen or console thy troubled mind,37
Save the memory of the love of those who left thee thus behind.38
On, let me not awake the thougnt, but, in the present blest,39
Make thee a child of wisdom—and to heaven bequeath the rest :40
Far rather let me image thee, in sunny future days,41
Outdoing every deed of mine and wearing brighter bays ;42
With less to dull thy fervency of recollected pain,43
And more to animate thy course of glory and of gain ;44
A home as happy shall be thine, and I too shall be there,45
The blessings purchased by thy worth in peace and love to share46
Shall see within thy beaming eye my early love repaid,47
And every ill of failing life a bliss by kindness made48
Shall see thee pour upon thy son, then sitting on thy knee,49
A father’s gushing tenderness, such as I feel for thee ;50
And know, as I this moment do, no brighter, better joy,51
Than thus to clasp unto thy soul thy darling little boy !52