Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1267. To a Child
 
By George Edgar Montgomery
 
 
I LOOK upon thy happy face—
Dear child with those undarkened eyes
Like glimpses of transparent skies—
And dream of things which have no place
 
In that small, golden head of thine;        5
Things that no ten-year-old has yet
Dared in his roguish wit to set
To thought, or word, or rhythmic line.
 
And it is better so, I think,
Better the child should be a child,        10
That he should grow as glad and wild
As flowers upon a river’s brink.
 
Laugh, then, and romp, and kiss the sun,
And be as if this ancient earth
Were but the resting-place of mirth        15
Since time was born and joy begun.
 
Laugh, and I ’ll be a child with thee,
Forgetful of the days which fly,
Forgetful of the nights which die,
And sipping sweetness like the bee.        20
 
For, oh! remember, little sir,
Childhood is but a passing spring,
Loath to await the burgeoning
Of summer and its fiery stir.…
 
But no, my dreams will not be stilled;        25
I cannot turn the long years back,
And life for me has ploughed its track;
The man must be the man, as willed;
 
Not dreams, I warn thee, such as they,
Our languid-hearted poets make,        30
Nor such as many love to wake
From fable or the Grecian lay;
 
But dreams of an aspiring soul,
That yearns with all its human might
To steal the secrets of the night,        35
To reach some high millennial goal.
 
Here, at this hour, I view the sweep
Of a vast century to its close,
Sublime in its titanic throes,
And in its plummet ocean-deep—        40
 
A century thrilled from start to end
With fearless striving, fearless hope,
Whose larger mind and wider scope
In one eternal progress tend.…
 
Yet thine will be the loftier tread,        45
And thine will be the swifter pace;
When thou shalt be as I, the race
Will scorn the marvels of the dead.
 
Ah, thou shalt look so clear, so far,
That all I wonder at will seem        50
Like the first mistings of a dream
Which dawns into a perfect star.
 

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