Menella Bute Smedley

To A Little Girl

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AGED THREE YEARS AND A HALF

Deep in thy round blue eyes
Asleep thy spirit lies,
Or half-awake and wanton in its play,
As are the thoughts of those
Who dally with repose,
Dreaming at noon the summer-hours away.
To thee each sight or sound
Of life's most common round,
Twilight or morn, green field or waving tree,
Bird, flower, or trembling star,
Food for sweet wonder are,
Choice spectacles prepared to pleasure thee.
Along earth's dreary scene
Thou, fearless and serene,
As in a softer air, dost breathe and move,

Each of thy smiles or tears
A potent cause appears
For fresh caresses, and for fonder love.
No despot's court could be
Servile as thine to thee,
Thy casual gestures watching and recording;
No sage or bard divine
Finds audience such as thine,
Thy half-form'd words as priceless treasure hoarding.
We look on thee and smile,
The saddest hearts awhile
Forget their tears in thy resistless mirth,
As 'mid thick clouds we view
One spot of stainless blue,
So shows thy life among the griefs of earth.
We look on thee and weep,
When from its happy sleep
Thy soul to its appointed task shall rise;
Must ruthless sorrow chase
The brightness from that face?
Must tears become familiar to those eyes?

We look on thee and fear,
How can we greet thee here,
Thou sinless stranger in a world of shame;
Shall earthly breath or blight
Sully the stainless white
Whereon was written once thy Saviour's name?
Childhood's unconscious heart,
A sacred thing thou art,
An ark of peace with ceaseless storms around;
Man, ere thou dare intrude
On that bright solitude,
Put off thy shoes—the place is holy ground.
Well may we look on thee,
Fresh in thy purity,
By no doubt troubled, by no sin defiled,
And pray (Christ spake the word)—
“Teach us to love Thee, Lord,
Even in the spirit of a little child!”

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Menella Bute Smedley