Blessings on thee, little man,
|Oh for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy, -
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood's time of June,
|Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O'er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs' orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!
Cheerily, then, my little man,
|Whittier, John Greenleaf
One of the best-loved American poets of the 19th century,
John Greenleaf Whittier, [b. Haverhill, Mass., Dec. 17, 1807, d. Sept. 9, 1892]
achieved a national reputation with his nostalgic poem "Snow-Bound" (1866), celebrating the rural world of New England. A Quaker, Whittier began his career as a journalist for William Lloyd Garrison, committing himself to the abolitionist cause in the celebrated pamphlet Justice and Expediency (1833) and thereafter, throughout the Civil War, in numerous polemics and volumes of patriotic verse. He is best remembered today for such popular poems as "Maud Muller" (1854), "The Barefoot Boy" (1855), and "Barbara Frietchie" (1863). The town of Whittier, Calif., was named for him in 1887.