The Birthday

A poem by R. C. Lehmann

Sweetheart, where all the dancing joys compete
Take now your choice; the world is at your feet,
All turned into a gay and shining pleasance,
And every face has smiles to greet your presence.
Treading on air,
Yourself you look more fair;
And the dear Birthday-elves unseen conspire
To flush your cheeks and set your eyes on fire.

Mayhap they whisper what a birthday means
That sets you spinning through your pretty teens.
A slim-grown shape adorned with golden shimmers
Of tossing hair that streams and waves and glimmers,
Lo, how you run
In mere excess of fun,
Or change to silence as you stand and hear
Some kind old tale that moves you to a tear.

And, since this is your own bright day, my dear,
Of all the days that gem the sparkling year,
See, we have picked as well as we were able
And set your gifts upon your own small table:
A knife from John,
Who straightway thereupon,
Lest you should cut your friendship for the boy,
Receives a halfpenny and departs with joy.

The burnished inkstand was your mother's choice;
For six new handkerchiefs I gave my voice,
Having in view your tender little nose's
Soft comfort; and the agate pen is Rosie's;
The torch is Peg's,
Guide for your errant legs
When ways are dark, and, last, behold with these
A pencil from your faithful Pekinese!

And now the mysteries are all revealed
That were so long, so ardently concealed -
All save the cake which still is in the making,
Not yet smooth-iced and unprepared for taking
The thirteen flames
That start the noisy games
Of tea-time, when my happy little maid
Thrones it triumphant, teened and unafraid.

So through the changing years may all delight
Live in your face and make your being bright.
May the good sprites and busy fays befriend you,
And cheerful thoughts and innocent defend you;
And, far away
From this most joyous day,
When in the chambers of your mind you see
Those who have loved you, then remember me.

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