Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
 
Poems of Home: I. About Children
To J. H.
Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)
 
 
Four Years Old:—A Nursery Song
  
… “Pien d’ amori,
Pien di canti, e pien di fiori.”—FRUGONI.
  
Full of little loves of ours,
Full of songs, and full of flowers.

AH, little ranting Johnny,
For ever blithe and bonny,
And singing nonny, nonny,
With hat just thrown upon ye;
Or whistling like the thrushes,        5
With a voice in silver gushes;
Or twisting random posies
With daisies, weeds, and roses;
And strutting in and out so,
Or dancing all about so;        10
With cock-up nose so lightsome,
And sidelong eyes so brightsome,
And cheeks as ripe as apples,
And head as rough as Dapple’s,
And arms as sunny shining        15
As if their veins they ’d wine in,
And mouth that smiles so truly
Heaven seems to have made it newly—
It breaks into such sweetness
With merry-lipped completeness;        20
Ah, Jack, ah Gianni mio,
As blithe as Laughing Trio!
—Sir Richard, too, you rattler,
So christened from the Tattler,
My Bacchus in his glory,        25
My little Cor-di-fiori,
My tricksome Puck, my Robin,
Who in and out come bobbing,
As full of feints and frolics as
That fibbing rogue Autolycus,        30
And play the graceless robber on
Your grave-eyed brother Oberon,—
Ah Dick, ah Dolce-riso,
How can you, can you be so?
 
One cannot turn a minute,        35
But mischief—there you ’re in it:
A-getting at my books, John,
With mighty bustling looks, John,
Or poking at the roses,
In midst of which your nose is;        40
Or climbing on a table,
No matter how unstable,
And turning up your quaint eye
And half-shut teeth, with “Mayn’t I?”
Or else you ’re off at play, John,        45
Just as you ’d be all day, John,
With hat or not, as happens;
And there you dance, and clap hands,
Or on the grass go rolling,
Or plucking flowers, or bowling,        50
And getting me expenses
With losing balls o’er fences;
Or, as the constant trade is,
Are fondled by the ladies
With “What a young rogue this is!”        55
Reforming him with kisses;
Till suddenly you cry out,
As if you had an eye out,
So desperately tearful,
The sound is really fearful;        60
When lo! directly after,
It bubbles into laughter.
 
Ah rogue! and do you know, John,
Why ’t is we love you so, John?
And how it is they let ye        65
Do what you like and pet ye,
Though all who look upon ye,
Exclaim, “Ah, Johnny, Johnny!”
It is because you please ’em
Still more, John, than you tease ’em;        70
Because, too, when not present,
The thought of you is pleasant;
Because, though such an elf, John,
They think that if yourself, John,
Had something to condemn too,        75
You ’d be as kind to them too;
In short, because you ’re very
Good-tempered, Jack, and merry;
And are as quick at giving
As easy at receiving;        80
And in the midst of pleasure
Are certain to find leisure
To think, my boy, of ours,
And bring us lumps of flowers.
 
But see, the sun shines brightly;        85
Come, put your hat on rightly,
And we ’ll among the bushes,
And hear your friends, the thrushes;
And see what flowers the weather
Has rendered fit to gather;        90
And, when we home must jog, you
Shall ride my back, you rogue you,—
Your hat adorned with fine leaves,
Horse-chestnut, oak, and vine-leaves,
And so, with green o’erhead, John,        95
Shall whistle home to bed, John.
 
 
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