Just a little baby, lying in my arms,—
Would that I could keep you, with your baby charms;
Helpless, clinging fingers, downy, golden hair,
Where the sunshine lingers, caught from otherwhere;
Blue eyes asking questions, lips that cannot speak,
Roly-poly shoulders, dimple in your cheek;
Dainty little blossom in a world of woe,
Thus I fain would keep you, for I love you so.
Roguish little damsel, scarcely six years old,—
Feet that never weary, hair of deeper gold;
Restless, busy fingers all the time at play,
Tongue that never ceases talking all the day;
Blue eyes learning wonders of the world about,
Here you come to tell them,— what an eager shout!—
Winsome little damsel, all the neighbors know;
Thus I long to keep you, for I love you so.
Sober little schoolgirl, with your strap of books,
And such grave importance in your puzzled looks;
Solving weary problems, poring over sums,
Yet with tooth for sponge-cake and for sugar-plums;
Reading books of romance in your bed at night,
Waking up to study with the morning light;
Anxious as to ribbons, deft to tie a bow,
Full of contradictions, — I would keep you so.
Sweet and thoughtful maiden, sitting by my side,
All the world’s before you, and the world is wide;
Hearts are there for winning, hearts are there to break,
Has your own, shy maiden, just begun to wake?
Is that rose of dawning glowing on your cheek
Telling us in blushes what you will not speak?
Shy and tender maiden, I would fain forego
All the golden future, just to keep you so.
Ah! the listening angels saw that she was fair,
Ripe for rare unfolding in the upper air;
Now the rose of dawning turns to lily white,
And the close-shut eyelids veil the eyes from sight;
All the past I summon as I kiss her brow,—
Babe, and child, and maiden, all are with me now.
Though my heart is breaking, yet God’s love I know,—
Safe among the angels, I would keep her so.
~Louise Chandler Moulton~