"What wouldst thou be?'–
A wavelet just rising from life's

"What wouldst thou be?'–
A wavelet just rising from life's
wide sea.
I would I were once again a child,
Like a laughing floweret on mountains wild;
In the fairy realms of fancy dwelling,
The golden moments for sunbeams selling;
Ever counting on bright to-morrows,
And knowing naught of unspoken sorrows:
Such would I be,
A sparkling cascade of untiring glee.'


Not so, not so!
For longings change as the full years flow.
When I had but taken a step or two
From the fairy regions still in view;
While their playful breezes fanned me still
At every pause on the steeper hill,
And the blossoms showered from every shoot,
Showered and fell, and yet no fruit,–
It was grief and pain
That I never could be a child again.

Not so, not so!
Back to my life-dawn I would not go.
A little is lost, but more is won.
As the sterner work of the day is done.
We forget that the troubles of childish days
Were once gigantic in morning haze.
There is less fancy, but more of truth,
For we lose the mists with the dew of youth;
And a rose is born
On many a spray which seemed only thorn.

Not so, not so!
While the years of childhood glided slow,
There was all to receive and nothing to give:
Is it not better for others to live?
And happier far than merriest games
Is the joy of our new and nobler aims:
Then fair fresh flowers, now lasting gems;
Then wreaths for a day, but now diadems,
Forever to shine,
Bright in the radiance of Love Divine.

Not so, not so!
I would not again be a child, I know!
But were it not pleasant again to stand
On the border-line of that fairy land,–
Feeling so buoyant and blithe and strong,
Fearing no slip as we bound along,
Halting at will in the sunshine to bask,
Deeming the journey an easy task,
While Courage and hope
Smooth with "Come, see, and conquer" each
emerald slope?

Not so, not so!
Less leaping flame, but a deeper glow!
There is more of sorrow, but more of joy,
Less glittering ore, but less alloy;
There is more of pain, but more of balm,
And less of pleasure, but more of calm;
Many a hope all spent and dead,
But higher and brighter hopes instead;
Less risked, more won;
Less planned and dreamed, but perhaps more

Not so, not so!
Not in stature and learning alone we grow!
Though we no more look from year to year,
For power of mind more strong and clear,
Through the table-land of life we tread,
No widening view before us spread,
No sunlit summits to lure ambition,
But only the path of a daily mission,
We would not turn
Where the will-o'-the-wisps of our young dreams

Then be it so!
For in better things we yet may grow
Onward and upward still our way,
With the joy of progress from day to day;
Nearer and nearer every year
To the visions and hopes most true and dear;
Children still of a Father's love,
Children still of a home above!
Thus we look back,
Without a sigh, o'er the lengthening track.