Six of us once, my darlings, played together
Beneath green boughs, which faded long ago,
Made merry in the golden summer weather,
Pelted each other with new-fallen snow.
Did the sun always shine? I can't remember
A single cloud that dimmed the happy blue,--
A single lightning-bolt or peal of thunder,
To daunt our bright, unfearing lives: can you?
We quarrelled often, but made peace as quickly,
Shed many tears, but laughed the while they fell,
Had our small woes, our childish bumps and bruises,
But Mother always "kissed and made them well."
Is it long since?--it seems a moment only:
Yet here we are in bonnets and tail-coats,
Grave men of business, members of committees,
Our play-time ended: even Baby votes!
And star-eyed children, in whose innocent faces
Kindles the gladness which was once our own,
Crowd round our knees, with sweet and coaxing voices,
Asking for stories of that old-time home.
"Were _you_ once little too?" they say, astonished;
"Did you too play? How funny! tell us how."
Almost we start, forgetful for a moment;
Almost we answer, "We are little _now!_"
Dear friend and lover, whom to-day we christen,
Forgive such brief bewilderment,--thy true
And kindly hand we hold; we own thee fairest.
But ah! our yesterday was precious too.
So, darlings, take this little childish story,
In which some gleams of the old sunshine play,
And, as with careless hands you turn the pages,
Look back and smile, as here I smile to-day.