Inscribed to a dear Child:
in memory of golden summer hours
and whispers of a summer sea.
Girt with a boyish garb for boyish task,
Eager she wields her spade: yet loves as well
Rest on the friendly knee, intent to ask
The tale one loves to tell.
Rude scoffer of the seething outer strife,
Unmeet to read her pure and simple spright,
Deem, if thou wilt, such hours a waste of life,
Empty of all delight!
Chat on, sweet Maid, and rescue from annoy
Hearts that by wiser talk are unbeguilded.
Ah, happy he who owns the tenderest joy,
The heart-love of a child!
Away, fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more!
Work claims my wakeful nights, my busy days,
Albeit bright memories of the sunlit shore
Yet haunt my dreaming gaze.
One winter night, at half-past nine,
Cold, tired, and cross, and muddy,
I had come home, too late to dine,
And supper, with cigars and wine,
Was waiting in the study.
There was a strangeness in the room,
And Something white and wavy
Was standing near me in the gloom —
I took it for the carpet-broom
Left by that careless slavey.
But presently the Thing began
To shiver and to sneeze:
On which I said “Come, come, my man!
That’s a most inconsiderate plan.
Less noise there, if you please!”
“The Thing standing by chair.”
“I’ve caught a cold,” the Thing replies,
“Out there upon the landing.”
I turned to look in some surprise,
And there, before my very eyes,
A little Ghost was standing!
He trembled when he caught my eye,
And got behind a chair.
“How came you here,” I said, “and why?
I never saw a thing so shy.
Come out! Don’t shiver there!”