Friday, June 1, 2012

Truth in poetry, again


I've always liked this poem, but until I lived through the third year of each of my boys, I didn't really appreciate it.  It's always a bit comforting to be reminded that humankind doesn't really change; you can change our clothes, give us new and increasingly complex technologies, but we're still all bound to some universal truths: food, shelter and companionship are necessities; Time marches on, and children will always find ways to drive their parents mad.  Enjoy!
A Parental Ode to My Son, Aged Three Years and Five Months
Thou happy, happy elf!
(But stop, - first let me kiss away that tear) –
   Thou tiny image of myself!
(My love, he's poking peas into his ear!)
   Thou merry, laughing sprite!
   With spirits feather-light,
Untouch'd by sorrow and unsoil'd by sin –
(Good heavens! The child is swallowing a pin!)
   Thou little, tricksy Puck!
With antic toys so funnily bestuck,
Light as the singing bird that wings the air –
(The door! The door! He'll tumble down the stair!)
   Thou darling of thy sire!
(Why, Jane, he'll set his pinafore a-fire!)
   Thou imp of mirth and joy!
In love's dear chain so strong and bright a link,
Thou idol of thy parents – (Drat the boy!
   There goes my ink!)
   Thou cherub – but of earth;
Fit playfellow for Fays, by moonlight pale,
   In harmless sport and mirth,
(That dog will bite him if he pulls its tail!)
   Thou human humming-bee, extracting honey
From ev'ry blossom in the world the blows,
   Singing in Youth's Elysium, ever sunny –
(Another tumble! – that's his precious nose!)
   Thy father's pride and hope!
(He'll break the mirror with that skipping rope!)
With pure heart newly stamp'd from Nature's mint –
(Where did he learn that squint?)
   Thou young domestic dove!
(He'll have that jug off, with another shove!)
   Dear nursling of the hymeneal nest!
   (Are those torn clothes his best?)
   Little epitome of man!
(He'll climb upon the table, that's his plan!)
Touched with the beauteous tints of dawning life –
   (He's got a knife!)
   Thou enviable being
No storms, no clouds, in thy blue sky foreseeing,
   Play on, play on,
   My elfin John!
Toss the light ball – bestride the stick –
(I knew so many cakes would make him sick!)
With fancies buoyant as the thistle-down,
Prompting the face grotesque and antic brisk,
   With many a lamb-like frisk –
(He's got the scissors, snipping at your gown!)
   Thou pretty opening rose!
(Go to your mother, child, and wipe your nose!)
Balmy, and breathing music like the South,
(He really brings my heart into my mouth!)
Fresh as the morn, and brilliant as its star, -
(I wish that window had an iron bar!)
Bold as the hawk, yet gentle as the dove –
   (I'll tell you what, my love,
I cannot write, unless he's sent above!)
-Thomas Hood

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