The Children to the School-house;
They chatter and laugh and hum.
The little boys with satchels
Slung round them, and the Girls
Each with hers swinging in her hand;
I love their sunny curls.
I love to see them playing,
Romping and shouting with glee,
The boys and girls together,
Simple, fearless, free.
I love to see them marching
In squads, in file, in line,
Advancing and retreating,
Tramping, keeping time.
Sometimes a little lad
With a bright brave face I’ll see,
And a wistful yearning wonder
Comes stealing over me.
For once I too had a Darling;
I dreamed what he should do,
And surely he’d have had, I thought,
Just such a face as You.
And I, I dreamed to see him
Noble and brave and strong,
Loving the light, the lovely,
Hating the dark, the wrong,
Loving the poor, the People,
Ready to smile and give
Blood and brain to their service,
For them to die or live!
No matter, O little Darlings!
Little Boys, you shall be
My Citizens for faithful labour,
My Soldiers for victory!
Little Girls, I charge you
Be noble sweethearts, wives,
Mothers — comrades the sweetest,
Fountains of happy lives!
Farewell, O little Darlings!
Far away — with strangers, too —
He sleeps, the little Darling,
I dreamed to see like you.
And I, O little Darlings,
I have many miles to go,
And where I too may stop and sleep,
And when, I do not know.
But I charge you to remember
The love, the trust I had,
That you’d be noble, fearless, free,
And make your country glad.
That you should toil together,
Face whatever yet shall be,
My citizens for faithful labour,
My soldiers for victory.
I charge you to remember;
I bless you with my hand,
And I know the hour is coming
When you shall understand:
When you shall understand too,
Why, as I said farewell,
Although my lips were smiling,
The shining tears down fell.

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