WHEN children, heedless in their eager play,
Seem casting half their innocence away
In some coarse word or deed that makes us start,
Waking a painful wonder in the heart,
We, ripe and righteous, blame the little ones;
Then quick to God, poor, trembling Conscience runs,
For while our sternness brings an instant hush,
The cheek is kindling with a guilty blush.
The older heart remembers its dark room
Wherein it would not have the children come ;
Where, when they sleep, the worldly-wise steal in,
Exchanging thoughts that have to do with sin.
And then it scorns this place that dreads surprise,
And would like children live without disguise,
Longing to have the secret soul become
Choice as the eye and ear that guard the home.
Charlotte F. Bates.