Home  »  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century  »  Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)

Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Amenophis and Other Poems (1892). III. On the Love of Children

Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)

TO that green hill, the shepherds’ haunt,

Why speed the children’s feet?

And who the Youth that sits alone,

The clamorous flock to greet?

His hands are laid above their heads,

Their faces at His knee:

His looks are looks of love; yet seem

Something beyond to see.

The simple townsmen cross the hill,

And bid the throng away,

“Nor press around the stranger youth,

Nor by the fold delay.”

As one who smiles and wakes, He lifts

A child upon His knee:

“God’s kingdom is of such as these;

So let them come to Me.”

—Ah, Lord and Christ! Thy perfect heart

No fond excess could touch!

But man’s best strength is feebleness,

And we may love too much!

Yet maim’d the man, or poor in blood,

Who glows not with delight

Whene’er the little ones go by

In casual daily sight;

Or when the child at mother’s knee,

His altar, lisps a prayer,

And perfect faith, and utter love,

And Christ Himself, is there;

Or when the little hands are clasp’d

To beg some baby grace,

And all the beauty of the dawn

Comes rose-red o’er the face;

Or when some elder one from sport

Her smaller sister wiles,

And two bright heads o’ershade the book;

Half study, and half smiles.

—Ah, Lord and Christ! Thy perfect heart

No fond excess could touch!

Yet when that innocence we see,

How can we love too much?

They twine around our heart of hearts;

Their spell we seek in vain;—

Go, ask the linnet why he sings,—

He can but sing again!

To winter-life their bloom and breath

Renew a later spring,

O dewy roses of the dawn,

Fresh from God’s gardening!

Earth’s treasures waste with use; but Thine,

O Lord! by lessening grow;

From love’s pure fount the more we take,

The more the waters flow.

How should we prize the things unseen,

Not prizing what we see?

How turn away Thy little ones

Without forbidding Thee?

The Shepherd wills not we should stint

Or count our kisses o’er;

Nor bids us love His lambs the less,

But Him Who loves them, more.