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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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Poems of Mother and Child

by the Editor [Charlotte Mason]
Volume 12, no. 12, December 1901, pgs. 905-



          I.

"Unto us a Child is born."
"Christ in you, the hope."

All his rest is on her arm;
She, his only shield from harm;
She doth his sole meat supply;
All his joy is in her eye.

Helpless, that is not his care;
A burden, she is strong to bear;
Fragile, will not she forefend?
Ailing—soft, her love shall tend.

Jesus, Saviour, Son of man,
Who camest, Infant of a span,
Was Mary thy one mother mild,
Or art thou ever born a Child?

My trembling heart doth in me burn;
There, perchance, shall I discern,—
Though the stall be all defiled,—
The tender form of Christ the Child:

Is there One, a little One,
Who lieth sweetly as a son—
All His meat, the Father's grace,
All His joy, the Father's face;

Rueing not His feeble state,
Fearing not the ills that wait,
Safe, nor asking why, nor how—
Jesus, then, not I, but Thou!

Other fearsome inmates there;
Evil dragons, giant Care;
Hope, joyous, sees them led in thrall,—
This "Little One" shall rule them all.


          II.

"Of Such is the Kingdom."

In the Kingdom are the children;
     You may read it in their eyes;
All the freedom of the Kingdom
     In their careless humour lies.

Very winsome are the children,—
     Yet what merit in their grace?
Small the pains they take for goodness,
     Scarcely know they Duty's face.

Frail and faulty little lieges,—
     Yet well-pleasing to their King:
Not much thought they take to serve Him;
     Yet, the chosen Offering bring.

Ours, the weary, long endeavour;
     Theirs, the happy entering in;
Ours, to strive and wait and labour;
     Theirs, to joy before the King!

"Except ye be as the children,
     Have ye in my courts no place":—
Lord, how meekly would we ponder
     The glad secret of their grace!

Not in holy, painful living;
     Not in tears, nor e'en in prayers;
Not in white days, free from sinning,
     No such perfectness is theirs.

What do they to take the Kingdom?
     Only this they leave undone—
Suffering Christ, the King, within them,
     They in nought invade his throne.

On the children's brows no witness
     That themselves do fill their thoughts
In the children's hearts no strivings
     That to them be honour brought.

Wherefore finds the King an entrance;
     Freely goes He out and in;
Sheds the gladness of His presence;
     For the babes doth victory win!


          III.

"I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father."
"I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake."
"And now, little children, abide in him."

Ye children, unto you I write:
   Not strong to overcome are ye,
      Faithful to strive, nor wise to flee;—
But your weak coming was in Light!
   Ye see; thought not your feeble thought
      Can shape the knowledge Light has brought,
Yet have ye known the Father, long from wisdom hid.

An older breast with pity swells
   For babe in this rude world bereft
      Of parent love; all des'late left!
Uncareful and at ease he dwells;
   He knows, yet knows not that he knows,
      A care that bears him as he goes,—
The Father he discerns and smiles all fear amid!

And children, unto you I write!
   Ah, not the shining of his face
      Nor enfolding of the Father's grace
Has kept your garments wholly white.
   Poor babes, ye sin—for strong is ill,
      And small your might and weak your will—
Lo, swift forgiveness lifts anew to His embrace!

For not on you the burden lies:
   A gracious cloud, a tender tear
      Is all ye know of hireling fear;
Then into joy again do rise:
   E'en while ye sin, are ye forgiven
      For his Name's sake: wherefore in Heaven
Your angels evermore behold your Father's face.

For, ah, wise little ones, ye know
   To take the Off'ring at the door,
      Nor question aught nor tell the score,
But enter, free as winds that blow!
   Wherefore, O little ones, I write
      That ye do keep you in the Light—
For loving must ye be, O children of His grace!


          IV.

"Come the disciples unto Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?"
"And Jesus called a little child until him, and set him in the midst of them."

Weigh his estate and thine: accustom'd, he,
   To all sweet courtly usage that obtains
Where dwells the King. How, with thy utmost pains,
   Canst thou produce what shall full worthy be?

One "Greatest in the kingdom" is with thee,
Whose spirit yet beholds the Father's face,
   And, thence replenish'd, glows with constant grace:
Take fearful heed lest he despised be!
   Order thy goings softly, as before
A Prince; nor let thee out, unmannerly,
   In thy rude moods and irritable: more,
Beware lest round him wind of words rave free.
   Refrain thee; see thy speech be sweet and rare:
Thy ways, considered; and thine aspect, fair.


          V.

"These little ones which believe in me."
"Little children . . . ye have known the Father."
"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise."
"Their angels do always behold the face of My Father."

      1.

I sat at my young son's feet—
   Sat low by my sleeping boy—
Much pond'ring the high-born air he wore,
   As of native claim on joy.

Sure not of his father or me
   Was he made thus free of the earth;
Ah, were we at large! But the hours confine,—
   Knows he a loftier birth?

Great is the mystery! Yea—
   How little, O babe, art thou mine!
A halo surrounds and divides thee,
   Living Words about thee shine!

All faith and hid knowledge, thine—
   My little one, how can it be?
When sing'st thou those perfect praises—
   The Father, where dost thou see?

Thy Guardian waiteth ever
   On the face of our God for light,—
O little son, how high thy estate!
   Thy mother, alas her plight!

      2.

I slept. As one bends to waken
   A harp, so gave voice to my pain
The angel in ward; "Wherefore troubled?
   Thy boy's state, is't not all gain?"

"Yea! All my breath is thanksgiving,
   This heart lives in song for the grace;
Yet at moments a pang,—sure not envy?
   Comes with the light on his face.

"To thine angel-state 'twere easy
   To win fullest thought of the Lord;
Faith, to us, the torn wafture of storms; these—
   'Believe they on Me," His word!

"Say thou! These simple, how search they
   The mystery of things unseen?
By what wit can they know to trust Him
   Whose Name, scarce lisp they, I ween?"

"Nay, mother, thy heart best answers;
   Is there any in all the wide land
So utterly trusts thee and worships,
   So kept him in thine hand,

"As the babe who not yet calls thee,
   Nor knows any name for his joy?
Thus, serene in the hand of the king,
   The simple soul of the thy boy!"


          VI.

A Birthday letter to Susie

My news is of a King—a King so sweet
That might she place her low stool at His feet,
And sit and watch His face the live-long day,
"My happiest birthday this," would Susie say.
But that, for wisest reasons, may not be;
At least, not yet. A mighty King is He,
And everything He wishes He can do;
So 'tis His pleasure oft to visit you,
And every little child whose name He knows.
But, that you may be in your weekday clothes,
And may behave as you do every day,
And not for company your best display,
He places His dear hand upon your eyes,
And holds them so—tho' things of shape and size
You see quite well— you cannot tell when He
Is standing by, and so your thoughts are free,
And He sees just what kind of child you are.

But there is more to tell and better far:
You know He is a King; but, ah, not proud!
Not palace bright where many servants crowd
He chooses for his dwelling; the least room,
The tiniest house that anywhere can be,
A little maiden's heart, is not too wee
For Him to enter in and make His home.
You wonder that He can: the King may come,
Because He is so mighty, where He will:
And, if you watch for Him, your thoughts quite still,
You'll oft find Some One good within your heart,
Who makes you care to choose the better part,
To be a gentle, thoughtful, loving child,
Not selfish, disobedient, cross or wild.
And when He comes, He makes your face so fair,
Your friends are glad and say, "The King is there!"


          VII.

"Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him . . ."

"Our thoughts are for him: his dear weal, the end
Our cares pursue; wherein shall love offend?"
"Offenceless, love, that duty doth intend."

Recall, when soul of Law convinced did rise
For baby-trespass to thy startled sight;
How, shamed, the wee transgressor sunk his eyes
Knowing beyond they knowledge of the right,
And meek 'neath thy chastisement. Keep him now
Under the Law as then; that, as he grows,
"Due followeth deed in course," the rule he knows
His times t' interpret. And, Law-compell'd be thou,
Nor drop some heedless trespass in his way,
That, stumbling over, his weak knees shall fail.
Offence shall come! But do not thou betray
His soul to sin. Yet, oh, without the pale
Of love's sweet use, no banishment accord
For any sake— lest thou malign thy Lord!


          VIII.

The Grandmother's Rede.

As they are wariest guides who most have met
Mischance themselves, thy mother's slips may yet
Shew thy feet, daughter, places to eschew.
Ah, sweet the mother-walk, but perilous!
And flowers do cheer the progress hazardous,
Tho' heedless pilgrims chance on bitter rue!
But thou, my daughter, meekly glad, hast ta'en
A man from the' Lord; thy joy hath wholesome pain
Of diffidence; safety's sole pledge, for here,
Danger avoids, assurance keeps, in fear!
So hold thy soul 'neath heaven, as April earth,
Waiting the fall of counsel; nor in vain—
Who hath so graced thee to a blessed birth,
Will not His wisdom's waterings restrain.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, Mar 2009