Thou art home at last, my darling one,
Flushed and tired with thy play,
From morning dawn until setting sun
Hast thou been at sport away;
And thy steps are weary - hot thy brow,
Yet thine eyes with joy are bright, -
Ah! I read the riddle, show me now
The treasures thou graspest tight.
A pretty pebble, a tiny shell,
A feather by wild bird cast,
Gay flowers gathered in forest dell,
Already withering fast,
Four speckled eggs in a soft brown nest,
Thy last and thy greatest prize,
Such the things that fill with joy thy breast,
With laughing light thine eyes.
Ah! my child, what right have I to smile
And whisper, too dearly bought,
By wand'ring many a weary mile -
Dust, heat, and toilsome thought?
For we, the children of riper years,
Task aching heart and brain,
Waste yearning hopes and anxious fears
On baubles just as vain.
For empty title, ribbon or star,
For worshipped and much-sought gold,
How men will struggle at home - afar -
And suffer toils untold;
Plodding their narrow and earth-bound way
Amid restless care and strife,
Wasting not merely a fleeting day,
But the precious years of life.
And thou, fair child, with to-morrow's dawn
Wilt rise up calm and glad,
To cull wild flowers 'mid wood and lawn,
Untroubled by memory sad;
But, alas! the worldly-wise of earth,
When life's last bonds are riven,
Will find that for things of meanest worth
They've lost both Life and Heaven.