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Musings in Maoriland

Lays of the Little Ones

Lays of the Little Ones.

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Up-a-daisy! said his mother
  When the babe was three months old;
"Up-a-daisy!" and she'd lift him
  From the rug whereon he rolled.
Soon the boy began to prattle,
  And his lips would strive to say
"Up-a-daisy!" but he couldn't
  Master more than "Up-a-day!"

"Up-a-daisy!" quaint expression
  Coined in some old nurse's brain,
As she tossed some merry baby
  Up and down and up again;
But our boy, unversed in diction,
  Takes it in another way—
Help, assistance, comfort, succour,
  Seeks he in his "Up-a-day!"

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Months flew by—the boy grew stronger:
  Childhood's little griefs and cares
Marr'd some merry, merry moments;
  Stupid stools and naughty chairs
Would persist in falling o'er him;
  And, as on the ground he lay,
He would kick and scream and scramble—
  "Mamma, mamma, Up-a-Day!"

Onward in the march of progress,
  Busy hands and toddling feet,
Cosy cradle superseded
  By the cot so snug and neat;
Mischief-making little meddler,
  Wearied out at twilight gray,
Clinging to the skirts of mamma:
  "Me so tired," then "Up-a-Day!"

Oh, the golden dreams of childhood!
  Oh, the visions babies see!
After they have lisped "Our Faader,"
  Nodding upon mother's knee;
Cares and troubles all forgotten
  Till the morn's first diamond ray
Opes the rosebuds and the red lips,
  And the eyelids—"Up-a-day!"

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Once again the little despot
  Rules the house with iron will,
Jumps and crows and screams and scrambles—
  Not a single moment still;
Merry, rippling, silver laughter,
  Sunshine followed soon by spray,
Troubles crowd again upon him—
  "Mamma, Mamma, Up-a-day!"

Now he falls across the fender,
  Now he tumbles on the stairs,
Screams and sobs and runs to mother
  With his troubles and his cares.
"Oh, you naughty boy, what ails you?
  Sonny, do be quiet, pray!
Dere now, dere now, what's the matter?"
  "Mamma, mamma, up-a-day!"

"Papa, turn and play me sojers,
  Me will shoot oo with my dun."
Fierce the onslaught, papa's vanquished,
  Baby has the victory won.
Ah! the fate of war is cruel:
  Baby's gun breaks in the fray—
"Oh! my dun, my dun is broken;
  Mamma, mamma, up-a-day?"

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Babyhood is manhood's mirror:
  Joys and sorrows, smiles and tears
Find their birth-place in the cradle,
  Growing stronger with the years;
"Mother!" is our cry in spring-time;
  But, when Winter holds his sway,
From the depths we raise our voices—
  "Father, Father, Up-a-day!"

Ah! the time will come, my darling,
  When the hearts that shield thee now
Shall be silent, and Time's furrows
  Will leave traces on thy brow;
When the shadows fall upon thee
  Turn thine eyes from Earth away,
Lift thy voice and cry with fervour—
  "Father, Father, Up-a-day!"

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Among the Buds.

Oh! leave the buds alone,
Leave the buds alone;
Each little flow'ret has a heart
As pure as is thine own.
  That violet,
  My pretty pet,
Hath borrowed from the skies
  Its deepest blue,—
  The same bright hue
That sparkles in thine eyes;
  And, just like thee,
In purity
And beauty it hath grown;
Then leave the buds alone,
Leave the buds alone.

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Oh! leave the buds alone;
Leave the buds alone;
Those little blossoms are the gems
That stud the garden's zone.
  From bell and cup
  The sun-sprites sup
The nectar and the dew;
  Each morn they drink
  From rose and pink
Sweet Nature's freshest "brew"
  Of God's own brand;—
  Thy tiny hand
To playfulness is prone,
But do not break the cups,
Leave the buds alone.

Oh! leave the buds alone,
Leave the buds alone;
They are thy younger sisters, and,
Like thee, they have but known
  The sweets of Spring,
  When everything
Evolves God's purest breath;
  They have no fear
  For Autumn's sere,

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Nor Winter's tint of death;
 Links them and thee
To heaven's eternal throne.
Ye are the stainless ones,
Leave the buds alone.

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Good Night to Baby.

Where is Babe, to-night? I miss him —
 Where is little Bright Eyes? bless him!
Bend above his cot and kiss him,
   Say "good night" to Baby.

Say "good night," though he be sleeping,
List'ning cherubs will be peeping
Through God's windows, fondly keeping
   Loving watch o'er Baby.

They will catch the words with pleasure,
Floating downwards through the azure;
They will cluster round your treasure,
   Whisp'ring them to Baby.

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Say"good night,"though he be sleeping,List'ning cherubs will be peepingThrough God's windows, fondly keepingLoving watch o'er Baby.

"good night,"
though he be sleeping,
List'ning cherubs will be peeping
Through God's windows, fondly keeping
Loving watch o'er Baby.

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They will tell him many a story
Of their Golden City's glory—
Wiser than his grandsire hoary,
   Happy little Baby!

Purer sight to him is given,
All the star-nail'd gates are riven,
Opening up a view of heaven
   In his dreams to Baby.

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Mother's Grave.

Up on the hill where beds are made
Narrow and deep with pick and spade;
Up on the hill where death-flowers grow,
Over a grave a child bent low,
  Picking the weeds of a new-formed plot;
Up on the hill on a Sabbath morn,
(Works of mercy that day adorn),
  Guardian spirits around the spot.

Under the sun the city basked,
  The sun that over the valley smiled,
"Why art thou here alone?" I asked—
  "Why art thou here alone, my child?"
Her bosom swelled with sorrow's throbs,
  Which burst the flood-gates of the heart;
I watched the bright drops, born of sobs,
  Out from the wells of her sad eyes start.
"Why art thou here?" again I said,
"Weeping over this lonely bed?"

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And this was the only reply she gave,
"Oh, sir, I am weeding my mother's grave."

I asked no more, but turned away
From girl, and stone, and mound of clay;
I asked no more, for that sentence told
Of lonely hearts, and of strangers cold;
And then I knelt in an old churchyard,
Where one grim elm-tree stood to guard
A daisy quilt and a crumbling stone,
And I was a child, alone, alone;
And the wild wind moaned through the ruins old,
And the clouds were black and the world was cold,
And sadly I heard the weird gusts rave
Through the crumbling walls near my mother's grave.

Up on the hill, where beds are made
Narrow and deep with pick and spade;
Up on the hill, where death-flowers grow,
Over a grave a child bent low,
  Picking the weeds off a new-formed plot;
Up on the hill, on a Sabbath morn,
(Works of mercy that day adorn),
  Guardian spirits around the spot.

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Little Violet.

She met me on the garden walk,
  Her bright eyes filled with mirth and glee,
And listening to her prattling talk,
  My childhood's days returned to me,
"And don't you know my name?" she said—
  "Why, no," I answered, "we've not met
Before, my charming little maid;"
  Then she replied, "I'm Violet."

"Indeed; well, that's a pretty name;"
  I wandered back to sunnier hours,
And little Violet became
  Far fairer than the other flowers
That grew around her where she stood—
  Each pansy, pink, and mignonette
Smiled sweetly at their sister bud,
  The tender little Violet.

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I gazed into her pure bright eyes,
  Where nestled childish innocence;
Then she, with look so very wise,
  Took me into her confidence,
And told me all her griefs and joys,
  How babies often scream and fret,
How brother robbed her of her toys,
  And broke the dolls of Violet.

How cherries grow upon a tree,
  How Grandpapa lived far away,
Where big ships swim across the sea,
  And she was going there to stay.
Youth's blossom made my heart its bower,
  But near it sprang the weed—regret;
I plucked the weed and kept the flower,
  And called it—Mem'ry's Violet.

There's rapture in the blithesome time
  When love inhales young passion's breath—
The poet's is a joy sublime,
  The Christian's happiness is—death.
But in pure childhood's thoughtless bliss,
  A taste of Heaven and earth we get—
More of the other life than this,
  Earth's angels are like Violets.

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The Land Beyond the Sun.

A dear little boy with a cherub's face,
Stood by the side of his mother's knee,
The Sun at the end of his daily race
Rested awhile on the crimson sea;
Glimpses of Paradise burst through the beams
That painted the hills and tinted the bay,
The mother was thinking on early dreams,
Her pure little innocent prattled away.

"The sun is like a golden ball
Dancing on the Ocean's brim,
Every eve I watch him fall,
How I love to look at him.
If upon the shore he'd set,
Then to greet him we would run,

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And behind him we could get,
To the land beyond the sun.

"Bessy went there, you have said,
To obey the Shepherd's will,
When she left her little bed
Where the flax waves on the hill
And she left the flowers behind,
Though to bloom they had begun,
Sweeter roses she must find,
In the land beyond the sun.

"Mother, if we had a boat,
We might cross the crimson track,
Round the sun then we could float,
And we'd bring our Bessie back.
See, he sets on yonder wave,
All his threads of gold are spun,
When he sinks into his cave,
We might sail beyond the sun."

Simple words oft touch love's chord
Waking mem'ry's softest tune.
"Bessie, dear, is with her Lord,
We will go to meet her soon;

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You and I and father, too,
Must win the crown that she has won,
By and bye we'll journey through
To the land beyond the sun."

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The Boy and the Year.

Come out, dear father, come and see this weary-looking man;
His hair is grey and very thin, his face is pale and wan;
With tottering steps he slowly wends his way down yonder hill;
The sun is shining warm and bright, and yet he seems quite chill,
His eye is dimmed by sorrow, yet he has a kingly mien;
I'm sure that he far happier and better days has seen.
I think I know his features well—and yet it cannot be!
Dear father, come and look on him, and tell me who is he?"

"My darling boy, you speak aright, we've seen that face before,
But then, instead of sorrow's streaks, a cheerful smile it wore.

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He came to us, 'twill be twelve months ago to-morrow morn;
His brow was crown'd with evergreens and sheaves of golden corn;
We welcomed him with open arms, and many a rural game
Was played to honour him, for joy and gladness with him came;
His eye was filled with manly fire, his breath was fresh and pure;
Majestically he stood erect,—his step was firm and sure."

"Dear father, I remember him; the morning he came here
You kissed myself and Amy, and we christened him New Year;
The church bells rang a merry peal, and filled our hearts with glee—
And little Amy laughed;—but now she's gone from you and me.
You said that mother called her to the land beyond the stars,
Where angels paint the silver clouds, and forge the golden bars
That gird the sun at eventide:—but New Year must have known
That Amy meant to leave us here in sorrow all alone."

"My darling boy, the New Year had a mission to fulfil—
Our Supreme Master sent him here to do His holy will;

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With smiles for some, and tears for more—'tis sinful to complain,
For pleasure would engender pride unless subdued by pain.
If yon bright orb shone constantly, and never hid his light,
We'd soon get weary of his rays, and wish for sable night;
If those sweet roses blooming in the garden ne'er decayed,
Their fragrance would be wasted, and their loveliness would fade."

"But, father, I am thinking still that New Year was to blame;
Deceitful smiles were on his face the morning that he came.
He fondled our dear Amy, and she sang to him so gay:
He should have told us that he meant to take her far away.
The night she left us, father dear, I thought my heart would break;
You said she only was asleep,—that soon she would awake;
But months have passed, and still she slumbers in the narrow cave,
Beneath the pretty pansies that we planted on her grave."

"The year is not to blame, my son, for wheresoe'er he walks,
Behind his back, with mocking strides, a ghastly spectre stalks;
Who crushes oft the fairest flowers until their leaves are dead—
Their essence he can not destroy, for, soaring o'er his head,
A lovely Angel gathers up the fragrant balm, and pours

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The sweet elixir in the stream beyond the azure doors,
Where Cherubs live, and Seraphs sing their never-ending lays,—
Our Amy is above with them, and joins their song of praise."

"Oh, father, dear, I wish that I were up with Amy, too;
You say the bowers are beautiful beyond the aereal blue,
Each New Year seems to bring along a load of care and strife,—
There seems to be less bliss than pain, dear father, in this life;
The hopes we cherish most to-day, to-morrow change to fears;
The smiles that gild our cheeks to-day, to-morrow turn to tears;
Our dearest friends are here to-day—but, ere the morning, fly,
Like mother dear and Amy, to the realms beyond the sky."

"My son, you should not murmur thus; the tide that laves the beach
Can rush along its measured pace, but further cannot reach;
And like unto it is the grasping intellect of man,
It searches to the gates of Heaven, but further cannot scan.
Then face the world bravely, boy, and let repining cease,—
Let honour be your compass, and your harbour will be peace;
Year after year may come and go, but Death, the tyrant, gains
No victory o'er the honest heart, where calm contentment reigns."

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Our Little Darling.

The wattle trees begin to bloom,
  And load the air with sweet perfume;
  But spring's green robe is edged with gloom:
   We've lost our little darling.

No more beneath the spreading gum
Our darling and the lambkins come;
The little prattling mouth is dumb—
  We've lost our little darling.

No longer to the creekside she
With little pail runs after me;
Shep frisks about no more with glee
  To play with little darling.

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The magpie's notes at early dawn,
Which used to wake our pretty fawn,
Remind us that our love light's gone—
  At morn we miss our darling.

At night we hear the gum-leaves stir,
Whilst listening to the 'possum's burr,
'Tis wearisome when wanting her—
  Ah! then we miss our darling.

A big, brown snake1, one sultry noon,
Played with her near the broad lagoon,
At our approach he vanished soon,
  But left unhurt our darling.

She followed him with childish mirth,
Which told us she was not of earth;
A charm hung round her from her birth;
  The angels watched our darling.

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She brought from homes where seraphs stay,
To gild our hearts a golden ray;
It shone a short, short summer day,
  Then faded with our darling.

Her time with us, alas! was short;
From paradise came this report—
"A cherub strayed from Heaven's court,
  Give up your little darling."

Her tiny feet have left no print,
Her rosy cheeks have left no tint;
God wanted treasure in His mint,
  And took our little darling.

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Angels' Feathers.

I saw the snow fall, with my childhood's vision;
  My soul leaped back unto its fresher clay,
Though manhood mock'd me, in its cold derision,
    And knowledge laugh'd too, in its sober day;
'Tis not the wind's wail, but some spirit sighing,
  That through the crannies now so weirdly sings—
'Tis not the snow-drift, now above me flying,
  But feathers falling from the angels' wings.

Light fancy flies far from the realm of reason,
  And revels wildly in its young conceit—
Oh! sweet deception, thou art harmless treason,
  Oh! sacred privilege, at times to cheat
Hard-grained reality and stern worldly duty—
  To touch life's harp upon its sweetest strings,
Oh! trance of gladness, and bright dream of beauty,
  Oh! feathers falling from the angels' wings.

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'Tis not the snow drift now above me flying,But feathers falling from the angels' wings

'Tis not the snow drift now above me flying,
But feathers falling from the angels' wings

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Proud seers survey the outside of creation,
  But cannot peer beyond the azure wall;
Their lamp, compared to young imagination,
  Is but a little rush-light after all.
The child is lord of all the realms of wonder,
  For him alone the tempest-giant swings
Red bars of lightning and black bolts of thunder;
  He sees the feathers fall from angels' wings.

Rail, if it please you, at each fond illusion,—
  Witch'd by their glamour we were nearer God;
Our sight was clearer ere the spirit's fusion
  With rougher wisdom in a coarser clod!
Ere mind was wed to the prosaic real,
  Our inspiration came from purer springs;
Snow was not snow then, in those dreams ideal,
  But feathers falling from the angels' wings.

We rise to manhood, in the eyes of sages,
  We're day by day evolving something new,
And year by year we're mounting higher stages!
  We fall from childhood, in the poet's view.
The storm of life sweeps through the young plantations,
  And from youth's mount to manhood's vale it brings
Hope's blossoms, blown with withered aspirations,
  To fall like feathers from the angels' wings.

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Bush Children.

Eyes of hazel and of blue,
  Raven locks and golden tresses,
Lips of rosy-tinted hue
  Pouting for the fond caresses,
Laughter filling hearts with joy,
  As the merry moments whirl,
Father loves his manly boy,
  Mother dotes upon her girl.

Gambolling across the glade,
  Sporting through the tea-tree mazes,
Resting 'neath the wattle's shade,
  When the summer's red sun blazes;
Fondling the dear pet lamb,
  Patting Bob, the sleek old coley,
Teasing Bill, the aged ram,
  Driving Redman, Sam, and Poley.

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Seeking for the 'possum's nest,
  In the wrinkled box-tree hollow;
Breaking in upon his rest,
  "Let him run, and Pinch will follow."
Hunting for the hidden sweets
  Where the wild bush-bees are humming;
Listening for the cheerful bleats
  When the shepherd home is coming.

"Willie, give the lads a call,
  We must have a game at cricket;
Jack and you can stop the ball,
  I will stand to guard the wicket."
Play your games, you merry crew,
  Now's the time for recreation,
By-and-by there's work to do,
  You have yet to build a nation.

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1 Snakes have been known in Australia to nestle beside children, and even to climb on to their laps without harming them.