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

William Bell Scott (1811–1890)

Little Boy

LITTLE boy, whose great round eye

Hath the tincture of the sky,

Answer now, and tell me true,

Whence and what and why are you?

And he answered, “Mother’s boy.”—

Yes, yes, I know,

But ’twas not so

Six years ago.

You are mother’s anxious joy,

Mother’s pet,

But yet—

A trouble came within the eye

That had some tincture of the sky.

I looked again: within that eye

There was a question, not reply.

I only shaded back his hair,

And kissed him there:

But from that day

There was more thinking and less play;

And that round eye,

That had a tincture of the sky,

Was somewhat shaded in its sheen;

It looked and listened far away,

As if for what cannot be seen.

Then I turned about and cried,

But who am I,

Prompting thus the dawning soul?

I cannot hide

The want of a reply,

Though traveling nearer to the goal

Where we take no note of time;

I can only say I AM,—

A phrase, a word, that hath no rhyme,—

The name God called himself, the best

To answer the weak patriarch’s quest.

“Why talk nonsense to a child?”

Asks the mother from the fire,

Listening through both back and ears,

Listening with a mother’s fears:

“Already is he something wild,

Says that he can fly down-stair!

I do desire

You questioning men would have a care;—

He is my child, my only one,—

You’ll make him try to touch the sun!”