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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

There Was a Time when I Was Very Little

By Jens Baggesen (1764–1826)

THERE was a time, when I, an urchin slender,

Could hardly boast of having any height.

Oft I recall those days with feelings tender;

With smiles, and yet the tear-drops dim my sight.

Within my tender mother’s arms I sported,

I played at horse upon my grandsire’s knee;

Sorrow and care and anger, ill-reported,

As little known as gold or Greek, to me.

The world was little to my childish thinking,

And innocent of sin and sinful things;

I saw the stars above me flashing, winking—

To fly and catch them, how I longed for wings!

I saw the moon behind the hills declining,

And thought, O were I on yon lofty ground,

I’d learn the truth; for here there’s no divining

How large it is, how beautiful, how round!

In wonder, too, I saw God’s sun pursuing

His westward course, to ocean’s lap of gold;

And yet at morn the East he was renewing

With wide-spread, rosy tints, this artist old.

Then turned my thoughts to God the Father gracious,

Who fashioned me and that great orb on high,

And the night’s jewels, decking heaven spacious;

From pole to pole its arch to glorify.

With childish piety my lips repeated

The prayer learned at my pious mother’s knee:

Help me remember, Jesus, I entreated,

That I must grow up good and true to Thee!

Then for the household did I make petition,

For kindred, friends, and for the town’s folk, last;

The unknown King, the outcast, whose condition

Darkened my childish joy, as he slunk past.

All lost, all vanished, childhood’s days so eager!

My peace, my joy with them have fled away;

I’ve only memory left: possession meagre;

Oh, never may that leave me, Lord, I pray.