Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.
See it springing all around us —
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.
Who loves not its joyous revel,
Leaping lightly on the lawn,
Up the knoll, along the level,
Free and graceful as a fawn
Let it revel; it is nature
Giving to the little dears
Strength of limb, and healthful features,
For the toil of coming years.
He who checks a child with terror,
Stops its play, and stills its song,
Not alone commits an error,
But a great and moral wrong.
Give it play, and never fear it —
Active life is no defect;
Never, never break its spirit —
Curb it only to direct.
Would you dam the flowing river,
Thinking it would cease to flow
Onward it must go forever —
Better teach it where to go.
Childhood is a fountain welling,
Trace its channel in the sand,
And its currents, spreading, swelling,
Will revive the withered land.
Childhood is the vernal season;
Trim and train the tender shoot;
Love is to the coming reason,
As the blossom to the fruit.
Tender twigs are bent and folded —
Art to nature beauty lends;
Childhood easily is moulded;
Manhood breaks, but seldom bends.
by David Bates