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The Cry Of The Children - Poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers---
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows;
The young birds are chirping in the nest;
The young fawns are playing with the shadows;
The young flowers are blowing toward the west---
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
They are weeping bitterly!---
They are weeping in the playtime of the others
In the country of the free.
Do you question the young children in the sorrow,
Why their tears are falling so?---
The old man may weep for his to-morrow
Which is lost in Long Ago---
The old tree is leafless in the forest---
The old year is ending in the frost---
The old wound, if stricken, is the sorest---
The old hope is hardest to be lost:
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
Do you ask them why they stand
Weeping sore before the bosoms of their mothers,
In our happy Fatherland?
They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their looks are sad to see,
For the man's grief abhorrent, draws and presses
Down the cheeks of infancy---
'Your old earth,' they say, 'is very dreary;'
'Our young feet,' they say, 'are very weak!
Few paces have we taken, yet are wearyÑ
Our grave-rest is very far to seek.
Ask the old why they weep, and not the children,
For the outside earth is cold,---
And we young ones stand without, in our bewildering,
And the graves are for the old.
'True,' say the young children, 'it may happen
That we die before our time.
Little Alice died last year---the grave is shapen
Like a snowball, in the rime.
We looked into the pit prepared to take her---
Was no room for any work in the close clay:
From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake her
Crying, 'Get up, little Alice! it is day.'
If you listen by that grave, in sun and shower,
With your ear down, little Alice never cries!---
Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her,
For the smile has time for growing in her eyes---
And merry go her moments, lulled and stilled in
The shroud, by the kirk-chime!
It is good when it happens,' say the children,
'That we die before our time.'
Alas, alas, the children! they are seeking
Death in life, as best to have!
They are binding up their hearts away from breaking,
With a cerement from the grave.
Go out, children, from the mine and from the city---
Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do---
Pluck your handfuls of the meadow-cowslips pretty---
Laugh aloud, to feel your fingers let them through!
But they answer, 'Are your cowslips of the meadows
Like our weeds anear the mine?
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal-shadows,
From your pleasures fair and fine!
'For oh,' say the children, 'we are weary,
And we cannot run or leap---
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
To drop down in them and sleep.
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping---
We fall upon our faces, trying to go;
And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping,
The reddest flower would look as pale as snow.
For, all day, we drag our burden tiring,
Through the coal-dark, underground---
Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
In the factories, round and round.
'For, all day, the wheels are droning, turning,---
Their wind comes in our faces,---
Till our hearts turn,---our head, with pulses burning,
And the walls turn in their places---
Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling---
Turns the long light that droppeth down the wall---
Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling---
All are turning, all the day, and we with all.---
And, all day, the iron wheels are droning;
And sometimes we could pray,
'O ye wheels,' (breaking out in a mad moaning)
'Stop! be silent for to-day!' '
Ay! be silent! Let them hear each other breathing
For a moment, mouth to mouth---
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreathing
Of their tender human youth!
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion
Is not all the life God fashions or reveals---
Let them prove their inward souls against the notion
That they live in you, os under you, O wheels!---
Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,
Grinding life down from its mark;
And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward,
Spin on blindly in the dark.
Now, tell the poor young children, O my brothers,
To look up to Him and pray---
So the blessed One, who blesseth all the others,
Will bless them another day.
They answer, 'Who is God that He should hear us,
White the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred?
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us
Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word!
And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding)
Strangers speaking at the door:
Is it likely God, with angels singing round Him,
Hears our weeping any more?
'Two words, indeed, of praying we remember,
And at midnight's hour of harm,---
'Our Father,' looking upward in the chamber,
We say softly for a charm.
We know no other words except 'Our Father,'
And we think that, in some pause of angels' song,
God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,
And hold both within His right hand which is strong.
'Our Father!' If He heard us, He would surely
(For they call Him good and mild)
Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,
'Come and rest with me, my child.'
'But no!' say the children, weeping faster,
'He is speechless as a stone;
And they tell us, of His image is the master
Who commands us to work on.
Go to!' say the children,---'Up in Heaven,
Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find.
Do not mock us; grief has made us unbelieving---
We look up for God, but tears have made us blind.'
Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
O my brothers, what ye preach?
For God's possible is taught by His world's loving---
And the children doubt of each.
And well may the children weep before you;
They are weary ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
Which is brighter than the sun:
They know the grief of man, but not the wisdom;
They sink in man's despair, without its calm---
Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom,---
Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm,---
Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly
No dear remembrance keep,---
Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly:
Let them weep! let them weep!
They look up, with their pale and sunken faces,
And their look is dread to see,
For they mind you of their angels in their places,
With eyes meant for Deity;---
'How long,' they say, 'how long, O cruel nation,
Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,
Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
Our blood splashes upward, O our tyrants,
And your purple shows yo}r path;
But the child's sob curseth deeper in the silence
Than the strong man in his wrath!'
Comments about The Cry Of The Children by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Cry Of The Children
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In Reference To Her Children
Among School Children
William Butler Yeats
Children Of Light
Before The Birth Of One Of Her Children
Good And Bad Children
Robert Louis Stevenson
To A Lady And Her Children
The Money Tree (Children)
God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children
Against Writing About Children
Song To Be Sung By The Father Of Infant ..
To His Two Children
Dancing Fairies (Children)
A Child’s Masterpiece (Children)
Angel In My Pocket (Children)
Children Of The Rainbow (Children)
Warning To Children
I Love Bugs (Children)
Christmas Is Really For The Children
Daddy’s Boots (Children)
The Children Of The Night
Edwin Arlington Robinson
Dear Mommy Up In Heaven (Children)
The Child Within (Children)
From The Short Story Shadow-Children
Louisa May Alcott
I'M Not Talking (Children)
Ode To Being Five (Children)
Windows In Heaven (Children)
My Shadow (Children)
Growing Things (Children)
Robert Louis Stevenson
Children Imitating Cormorants
Whole Duty Of Children
Robert Louis Stevenson
Little Boys And Jelly Beans (Children)
As Children Bid The Guest "Good Night"
All By Myself (Cj & Rusty For Children)
To My Children
A Little Riddle (Children)
Monkey Me (Children)
Mud Pies (Children)
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Pedal Pushin' (Children)
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In Reference To Her Children
I had eight birds hatched in one nest, Four cocks there were, and hens the rest. I nursed them up with pain and care, Nor cost, nor labour did I spare, Till at the last they felt their wing, Mounted the trees, and learned to sing; Chief of the brood then took his flight To regions far and left me quite. My mournful chirps I after send, Till he return, or I do end: Leave not thy nest, thy dam and sire, Fly back and sing amidst this choir. My second bird did take her flight, And with her mate flew out of sight; Southward they both their course did bend, And seasons twain they there did spend, Till after blown by southern gales, They norward steered with filled sails. A prettier bird was no where seen, Along the beach among the treen. I have a third of colour white, On whom I placed no small delight; Coupled with mate loving and true, Hath also bid her dam adieu; And where Aurora first appears, She now hath perched to spend her years. One to the academy flew To chat among that learned crew; Ambition moves still in his breast That he might chant above the rest Striving for more than to do well, That nightingales he might excel. My fifth, whose down is yet scarce gone, Is 'mongst the shrubs and bushes flown, And as his wings increase in strength, On higher boughs he'll perch at length. My other three still with me nest, Until they're grown, then as the rest, Or here or there they'll take their flight, As is ordained, so shall they light. If birds could weep, then would my tears Let others know what are my fears Lest this my brood some harm should catch, And be surprised for want of watch, Whilst pecking corn and void of care, They fall un'wares in fowler's snare, Or whilst on trees they sit and sing, Some untoward boy at them do fling, Or whilst allured with bell and glass, The net be spread, and caught, alas. Or lest by lime-twigs they be foiled, Or by some greedy hawks be spoiled. O would my young, ye saw my breast, And knew what thoughts there sadly rest, Great was my pain when I you fed, Long did I keep you soft and warm, And with my wings kept off all harm, My cares are more and fears than ever, My throbs such now as 'fore were never. Alas, my birds, you wisdom want, Of perils you are ignorant; Oft times in grass, on trees, in flight, Sore accidents on you may light. O to your safety have an eye, So happy may you live and die. Meanwhile my days in tunes I'll spend, Till my weak lays with me shall end. In shady woods I'll sit and sing, And things that past to mind I'll bring. Once young and pleasant, as are you, But former toys (no joys) adieu. My age I will not once lament, But sing, my time so near is spent. And from the top bough take my flight Into a country beyond sight, Where old ones instantly grow young, And there with seraphims set song; No seasons cold, nor storms they see; But spring lasts to eternity. When each of you shall in your nest Among your young ones take your rest, In chirping language, oft them tell, You had a dam that loved you well, That did what could be done for young, And nursed you up till you were strong, And 'fore she once would let you fly, She showed you joy and misery; Taught what was good, and what was ill, What would save life, and what would kill. Thus gone, amongst you I may live, And dead, yet speak, and counsel give: Farewell, my birds, farewell adieu, I happy am, if well with you.
Among School Children
I WALK through the long schoolroom questioning; A kind old nun in a white hood replies; The children learn to cipher and to sing, To study reading-books and histories, To cut and sew, be neat in everything In the best modern way -- the children's eyes In momentary wonder stare upon A sixty-year-old smiling public man. I dream of a Ledaean body, bent Above a sinking fire. a tale that she Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event That changed some childish day to tragedy -- Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent Into a sphere from youthful sympathy, Or else, to alter Plato's parable, Into the yolk and white of the one shell. III And thinking of that fit of grief or rage I look upon one child or t'other there And wonder if she stood so at that age -- For even daughters of the swan can share Something of every paddler's heritage -- And had that colour upon cheek or hair, And thereupon my heart is driven wild: She stands before me as a living child. Her present image floats into the mind -- Did Quattrocento finger fashion it Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind And took a mess of shadows for its meat? And I though never of Ledaean kind Had pretty plumage once -- enough of that, Better to smile on all that smile, and show There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow. What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap Honey of generation had betrayed, And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape As recollection or the drug decide, Would think her Son, did she but see that shape With sixty or more winters on its head, A compensation for the pang of his birth, Or the uncertainty of his setting forth? Plato thought nature but a spume that plays Upon a ghostly paradigm of things; Solider Aristotle played the taws Upon the bottom of a king of kings; World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings What a star sang and careless Muses heard: Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird. VII Both nuns and mothers worship images, But thos the candles light are not as those That animate a mother's reveries, But keep a marble or a bronze repose. And yet they too break hearts -- O presences That passion, piety or affection knows, And that all heavenly glory symbolise -- O self-born mockers of man's enterprise; VIII Labour is blossoming or dancing where The body is not bruised to pleasure soul. Nor beauty born out of its own despair, Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil. O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer, Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole? O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance?
Come to me, O ye children! For I hear you at your play, And the questions that perplexed me Have vanished quite away. Ye open the eastern windows, That look towards the sun, Where thoughts are singing swallows And the brooks of morning run. In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine, In your thoughts the brooklet's flow, But in mine is the wind of Autumn And the first fall of the snow. Ah! what would the world be to us If the children were no more? We should dread the desert behind us Worse than the dark before. What the leaves are to the forest, With light and air for food, Ere their sweet and tender juices Have been hardened into wood, -- That to the world are children; Through them it feels the glow Of a brighter and sunnier climate Than reaches the trunks below. Come to me, O ye children! And whisper in my ear What the birds and the winds are singing In your sunny atmosphere. For what are all our contrivings, And the wisdom of our books, When compared with your caresses, And the gladness of your looks? Ye are better than all the ballads That ever were sung or said; For ye are living poems, And all the rest are dead.
Two children (small), one Four, one Five, Once saw a bee go in a hive, They'd never seen a bee before! So waited there to see some more. And sure enough along they came A dozen bees (and all the same!) Within the hive they buzzed about; Then, one by one, they all flew out. Said Four: 'Those bees are silly things, But how I wish I had their wings!'