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Family Poems - Families Poems

     by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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,
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
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
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,--

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!
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,
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,
And all the rest are dead.


     by Edgar A. Guest

It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye left behind,
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind.
It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped 'round everything.

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it:
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on ye find ye wouldn't part
With anything they ever used--they've grown into yer heart;
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumbmarks on the door.

Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit and sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled, an' leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an' when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified;
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories
O' her that was an' is no more -- ye can't escape from these.

Ye've got t' sing and dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day;
Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em jes' t' run
The way they do, so's they would get the early mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome:
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home


Father and Son
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

My grand-dame, vigorous at eighty-one,
Delights in talking of her only son,
My gallant father, long since dead and gone.
'Ah, but he was the lad!'
She says, and sighs, and looks at me askance.
How well I read the meaning of that glance -
'Poor son of such a dad;
Poor weakling, dull and sad.'
I could, but would not tell her bitter truth
About my father's youth.

She says: 'Your father laughed his way through earth:
He laughed right in the doctor's face at birth,
Such joy of life he had, such founts of mirth.
Ah, what a lad was he!'
And then she sighs. I feel her silent blame,
Because I brought her nothing but his name.
Because she does not see
Her worshipped son in me.
I could, but would not, speak in my defence,
Anent the difference.

She says: 'He won all prizes in his time:
He overworked, and died before his prime.
At high ambition's door I lay the crime.
Ah, what a lad he was!'
Well, let her rest in that deceiving thought,
Of what avail to say, 'His death was brought
By broken sexual laws,
The ancient sinful cause.'
I could, but would not, tell the good old dame
The story of his shame.

I could say: 'I am crippled, weak, and pale,
Because my father was an unleashed male.
Because he ran so fast, I halt and fail
(Ah, yes, he was the lad),
Because he drained each cup of sense-delight
I must go thirsting, thirsting, day and night.
Because he was joy-mad,
I must be always sad.

Because he learned no law of self-control,
I am a blighted soul.'
Of what avail to speak and spoil her joy.
Better to see her disapproving eyes,
And silent, hear her say, between her sighs,
'Ah, but he was the boy!'


The Portrait of a Child
     by Victor Hugo

That brow, that smile, that cheek so fair,
Beseem my child, who weeps and plays:
A heavenly spirit guards her ways,
From whom she stole that mixture rare.
Through all her features shining mild,
The poet sees an angel there,
The father sees a child.

And by their flame so pure and bright,
We see how lately those sweet eyes
Have wandered down from Paradise,
And still are lingering in its light.

All earthly things are but a shade
Through which she looks at things above,
And sees the holy Mother-maid,
Athwart her mother's glance of love.

She seems celestial songs to hear,
And virgin souls are whispering near.
Till by her radiant smile deceived,
I say, "Young angel, lately given,
When was thy martyrdom achieved?
And what name lost thou bear in heaven?"


The Well-Born
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

So many people - people - in the world;
So few great souls, love ordered, well begun,
In answer to the fertile mother need!
So few who seem
The image of the Maker's mortal dream;
So many born of mere propinquity -
Of lustful habit, or of accident.
Their mothers felt
No mighty, all-compelling wish to see
Their bosoms garden-places
Abloom with flower faces;
No tidal wave swept o'er them with its flood;
No thrill of flesh or heart; no leap of blood;
No glowing fire, flaming to white desire
For mating and for motherhood:
Yet they bore children.
God! how mankind misuses Thy command,
To populate the earth!
How low is brought high birth!
How low the woman; when, inert as spawn
Left on the sands to fertilise,
She is the means through which the race goes on!
Not so the first intent.
Birth, as the Supreme Mind conceived it, meant
The clear imperious call of mate to mate
And the clear answer. Only thus and then
Are fine, well-ordered, and potential lives
Brought into being. Not by Church or State
Can birth be made legitimate,
Love in its fulness bless.
Creation so ordains its lofty laws
That man, while greater in all other things,
Is lesser in the generative cause.
The father may be merely man, the male;
Yet more than female must the mother be.
The woman who would fashion
Souls, for the use of earth and angels meet,
Must entertain a high and holy passion.
Not rank, or wealth, or influence of kings
Can give a soul its dower
Of majesty and power,
Unless the mother brings
Great love to that great hour.


My Home
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This is the place that I love the best,
A little brown house like a ground-bird's nest,
Hid among grasses, and vines, and trees,
Summer retreat of the birds and bees.

The tenderest light that ever was seen
Sifts through the vine-made window screen -
Sifts and quivers, and flits and falls
On home-made carpets and gray-hung walls.

All through June, the west wind free
The breath of the clover brings to me.
All through the languid July day
I catch the scent of the new-mown hay.

The morning glories and scarlet vine
Over the doorway twist and twine;
And every day, when the house is still,
The humming-bird comes to the window-sill.

In the cunningest chamber under the sun
I sink to sleep when the day is done;
And am waked at morn, in my snow-white bed,
By a singing-bird on the roof o'erhead.

Better than treasures brought from Rome
Are the living pictures I see at home -
My aged father, with frosted hair,
And mother's face like a painting rare
Far from the city's dust and heat,
I get but sounds and odours sweet.
Who can wonder I love to stay,
Week after week, here hidden away,
In this sly nook that I love the best -
The little brown house, like a ground-bird's nest?


The Kettle
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There's many a house of grandeur,
With turret, tower and dome,
That knows not peace or comfort,
And does not prove a home.
I do not ask for splendor
To crown my daily lot,
But this I ask -- a kitchen
Where the kettle's always hot.

If things are not all ship-shape,
I do not fume or fret,
A little clean disorder
Does not my nerves upset.
But one thing is essential,
Or seems so to my thought,
And that's a tidy kitchen
Where the kettle's always hot.

In my Aunt Hattie's household,
Though skies outside are drear,
Though times are dark and troubled,
You'll always find good cheer.
And in her quaint old kitchen--
The very homiest spot--
The kettle's always singing,
The water's always hot.

And if you have a headache,
Whate'er the hour may be,
There is no tedious waiting
To get your cup of tea.
I don't know how she does it--
Some magic she has caught--
For the kitchen's cool in summer,
Yet the kettle's always hot.

Oh, there's naught else so dreary
In household kingdom found
As a cold and sullen kettle
That does not make a sound.
And I think that love is lacking
In the hearts in such a spot,
Or the kettle would be singing
And the water would be hot.


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