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Lessons for a Child


I.

There breathes not a breath of the morning air,
But the spirit of Love is moving there;
Not a trembling leaf on the shadowy tree
Mingles with thousands in harmony;
But the Spirit of God doth make the sound,
And the thoughts of the insect that creepeth around.
And the sunshiny butterflies come and go,
Like beautiful thoughts moving to and fro;
And not a wave of their busy wings
Is unknown to the Spirit that moveth all things.
And the long-mantled moths, that sleep at noon,
And dance in the light of the mystic moon--
All have one being that loves them all;
Not a fly in the spider's web can fall,
But He cares for the spider, and cares for the fly;
And He cares for each little child's smile or sigh.
How it can be, I cannot know;
He is wiser than I; and it must be so.


II.

The tree-roots met in the spongy ground,
Looking where water lay;
Because they met, they twined around,
Embraced, and went their way.

Drop dashed on drop, as the rain-shower fell,
Yet they strove not, but joined together;
And they rose from the earth a bright clear well,
Singing in sunny weather.

Sound met sound in the wavy air;
They kissed as sisters true;
Yet, jostling not on their journey fair,
Each on its own path flew.

Wind met wind in a garden green;
Each for its own way pled;
And a trampling whirlwind danced between,
Till the flower of Love lay dead.


III.

[To C.C.P.]

The bird on the leafy tree,
The bird in the cloudy sky,
The fish in the wavy sea,
The stag on the mountain high,
The albatross asleep
On the waves of the rocking deep,
The bee on its light wing, borne
Over the bending corn,--
What is the thought in the breast
Of the little bird at rest?
What is the thought in the songs
Which the lark in the sky prolongs?
What mean the dolphin's rays,
Winding his watery ways?
What is the thought of the stag,
Stately on yonder crag?
What doth the albatross think,
Dreaming upon the brink
Of the mountain billow, and then
Dreaming down in its glen?
What is the thought of the bee
Fleeting so silently,
Flitting from part to part,
Speedily, gently roving,
Like the love of a thoughtful heart,
Ever at rest, and moving?
What is the life of their thought?
Doth praise their souls employ?
I think it can be nought
But the trembling movement to and fro
Of a bright, life-giving joy.
And the God of cloudless days,
Who souls and hearts doth know,
Taketh their joy for praise,
And biddeth its fountains flow.

And if, in thy life on earth,
In the chamber, or by the hearth,
Mid the crowded city's tide,
Or high on the lone hill-side,
Thou canst cause a thought of peace,
Or an aching thought to cease,
Or a gleam of joy to burst
On a soul in gladness nurst;
Spare not thy hand, my child;
Though the gladdened should never know
The well-spring amid the wild
Whence the waters of blessing flow.
Find thy reward in the thing
Which thou hast been blest to do;
Let the joy of others cause joy to spring
Up in thy bosom too.
And if the love of a grateful heart
As a rich reward be given,
Lift thou the love of a grateful heart
To the God of Love in Heaven.


George MacDonald