Mary Botham Howitt

The Clock is on the Stroke of Six

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The clock is on the stroke of six,
The Father’s work is done;
Sweep up the hearth and mend the fire,
And put the kettle on.
The wild night is blowing cold,
‘Tis dreary crossing o’er the wold.

He’s crossing o’er the wold apace,
He is stronger than the storm;
He does not feel the cold, not he,
His heart it is so warm,
For Father’s heart is stout and true
As ever human bosom knew.

He makes all toil, all hardship, light:
Would all men were the same!
So ready to be pleased, so kind,
So very slow to blame!
Folks need not be unkind, austere,
For love hath readier will than fear.

Nay, do not close the shutters, child;
For far along the lane
The little window looks and he
Can see it shining plain.
I’ve heard him say he loves to mark
The cheerful firelight through the dark.

And we’ll do all that Father likes;
His wishes are so few.
Would they were more that every hour
Some wish of his I knew!
I’m sure it makes a happy day
When I can please him any way.

I know he’s coming by this sign,
That baby’s almost wild;
See how he laughs and crows and stares-
Heaven bless the merry child!
He’s father’s self in form and limb,
And father’s heart is strong in him.

Hark! Hark! I hear his footsteps now;
He’s through the garden gate,
Run, little Bess, and ope the door,
And do not let him wait.
Shout, baby, shout! and clap thy hands,
For Father on the threshold stands.

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Mary Botham Howitt