Lessons For A Child - Poem by George MacDonald
There breathes not a breath of the summer air
But the spirit of love is moving there;
Not a trembling leaf on the shadowy tree,
Flutters with hundreds in harmony,
But that spirit can part its tone from the rest,
And read the life in its beetle's breast.
When the sunshiny butterflies come and go,
Like flowers paying visits to and fro,
Not a single wave of their fanning wings
Is unfelt by the spirit that feeleth all things.
The long-mantled moths that sleep at noon
And rove in the light of the gentler moon;
And the myriad gnats that dance like a wall,
Or a moving column that will not fall;
And the dragon-flies that go burning by,
Shot like a glance from a seeking eye-
There is one being that loves them all:
Not a fly in a spider's web can fall
But he cares for the spider, and cares for the fly;
He cares for you, whether you laugh or cry,
Cares whether your mother smile or sigh.
How he cares for so many, I do not know,
But it would be too strange if he did not so-
Dreadful and dreary for even a fly:
So I cannot wait for the
But believe that all things are gathered and nursed
In the love of him whose love went first
And made this world-like a huge great nest
For a hen to sit on with feathery breast.
The bird on the leafy tree,
The bird in the cloudy sky,
The hart in the forest free,
The stag on the mountain high,
The fish inside the sea,
The albatross asleep
On the outside of the deep,
The bee through the summer sunny
Hunting for wells of honey-
What is the thought in the breast
Of the little bird in its nest?
What is the thought in the songs
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 does 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,
Or flitting-with busy hum,
But a careless go-and-come-
From flower-chalice to chalice,
Like a prince from palace to palace?
What makes them alive, so very-
Some of them, surely, merry.
And others so stately calm
They might be singing a psalm?
I cannot tell what they think--
Only know they eat and drink,
And on all that lies about
With a quiet heart look out,
Each after its kind, stately or coy,
Solemn like man, gamesome like boy,
Glad with its own mysterious joy.
And God, who knows their thoughts and ways
Though his the creatures do not know,
From his full heart fills each of theirs:
Into them all his breath doth go;
Good and better with them he shares;
Content with their bliss while they have no prayers,
He takes their joy for praise.
If thou wouldst be like him, little one, go
And be kind with a kindness undefiled;
Who gives for the pleasure of thanks, my child,
God's gladness cannot know.
Root met root in the spongy ground,
Searching each for food:
Each turned aside, and away it wound.
And each got something good.
Sound met sound in the wavy air-
That made a little to-do!
They jostled not long, but were quick and fair;
Each found its path and flew.
Drop dashed on drop, as the rain-shower fell;
They joined and sank below:
In gathered thousands they rose a well,
With a singing overflow.
Wind met wind in a garden green,
They began to push and fret:
A tearing whirlwind arose between:
There love lies bleeding yet.
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