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To A Child

WHOSE imp art thou, with dimpled cheek,
And curly pate and merry eye,
And arm and shoulders round and sleek,
And soft and fair? thou urchin sly!
What boots it who, with sweet caresses,
First call'd thee his, or squire or hind?--
For thou in every wight that passes,
Dost now a friendly play-mate find.
Thy downcast glances, grave but cunning,
As fringed eye-lids rise and fall,
Thy shyness, swiftly from me running,--
'Tis infantine coquetry all!
But far afield thou hast not flown,
With mocks and threats half-lisp'd half-spoken,
I feel thee pulling at my gown,
Of right good-will thy simple token.

And thou must laugh and wrestle too,
A mimick warfare with me waging,
To make, as wily lovers do,
Thy after-kindness more engaging.
The wilding rose, sweet as thyself,
And new-cropt daisies are thy treasure,
I'd gladly part with worldly pelf,
To taste again thy youthful pleasure.
But yet for all thy merry look,
Thy frisks and wiles, the time is coming,
When thou shalt sit in cheerless nook,
The weary spell or horn book thumbing.
Well; let it be! thro' weal and woe,
Thou know'st not now thy future range;
Life is a motley shifting show,
And thou a thing of hope and change.

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