Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
Birds of Passage
Flight the First.
Children
 
COME to me, O ye children!
  For I hear you at your play,
And the questions that perplexed me
  Have vanished quite away.
 
Ye open the eastern windows,        5
  That look towards the sun,
Where thoughts are singing swallows
  And the brooks of morning run.
 
In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
  In your thoughts the brooklet’s flow,        10
But in mine is the wind of Autumn
  And the first fall of the snow.
 
Ah! what would the world be to us
  If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us        15
  Worse than the dark before.
 
What the leaves are to the forest,
  With light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
  Have been hardened into wood,—        20
 
That to the world are children;
  Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
  Than reaches the trunks below.
 
Come to me, O ye children!        25
  And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
  In your sunny atmosphere.
 
For what are all our contrivings,
  And the wisdom of our books,        30
When compared with your caresses,
  And the gladness of your looks?
 
Ye are better than all the ballads
  That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,        35
  And all the rest are dead.
 
 
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