POETRY FOR CHILDREN
(1808-1809. Text of 1809)
This rose-tree is not made to bear
The violet blue, nor lily fair,
Nor the sweet mignionet:
And if this tree were discontent,
Or wish’d to change its natural bent,
It all in vain would fret.
And should it fret, you would suppose
It ne’er had seen its own red rose,
Nor after gentle shower
Had ever smell’d it rose’s scent,
Or it could ne’er be discontent
With its own pretty flower.
Like such a blind and senseless tree
As I’ve imagin’d this to be,
All envious persons are:
With care and culture all may find
Some pretty flower in their own mind,
Some talent that is rare.
THE REAPER’S CHILD
If you go to the field where the Reapers
The sheaves of ripe corn, there a fine little lass,
Only three months of age, by the hedge-row you’ll find,
Left alone by its mother upon the low grass.
While the mother is reaping, the infant
Not the basket that holds the provision is less
By the hard-working Reaper, than this little sleeper,
Regarded, till hunger does on the babe press.
Then it opens its eyes, and it utters
Which its hard-working mother afar off will hear;
She comes at its calling, she quiets its squalling,
And feeds it, and leaves it again without fear.
When you were as young as this field-nursed
You were fed in the house, and brought up on the knee;
So tenderly watched, thy fond mother thought her
Whole time well bestow’d in nursing of thee.
Lately an Equipage I overtook,
And help’d to lift it o’er a narrow brook.
No horse it had except one boy, who drew
His sister out in it the fields to view.
O happy town-bred girl, in fine chaise going
For the first time to see the green grass growing.
This was the end and purport of the ride
I learn’d, as walking slowly by their side
I heard their conversation. Often she—
“Brother, is this the country that I see?”
The bricks were smoking, and the ground was broke,
There were no signs of verdure when she spoke.
He, as the well-inform’d delight in chiding
The ignorant, these questions still deriding,
To his good judgment modestly she yields;
Till, brick-kilns past, they reach’d the open fields.
Then as with rapt’rous wonder round she gazes
On the green grass, the butter-cups, and daisies,
“This is the country sure enough,” she cries;
“Is’t not a charming place?” The boy replies,
“We’ll go no further.” “No,” says she, “no need;
No finer place than this can be indeed.”
I left them gathering flow’rs, the happiest pair
That ever London sent to breathe the fine fresh air,