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.
Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow library , or . . . Read the next poem; Chimes