Seven Times One Are Seven

In his grandmother’s garden was a cake with seven candles,
And the family had forgathered that rose-haunted afternoon.
Aunt Jane was singing Felicia Heman’s verses
About a seventh birthday to a sentimental tune.
“It’s a birthday to remember,” said his grandmother smiling,
“With all the roses out on the third day of June.”
His brother said, “There should have been eight candles. One to grow on.”
“For seven years,” the Rector said, “I think he’s pretty tall.”
They talked about him amiably as though he were not present,
And he felt at his own party embarrassingly small.
His mother sat in silence, and he knew the scent of roses
Had made her think — as he did — of his father’s funeral.
The books for his birthday had all been sent from England.
“No one writes for children like the English.” said Aunt Jane.
“How about Louisa May Alcott?” asked the Rector.
“Only fit for girls,” said his brother with disdain.
His uncle coughed and murmured, “There’s Huckleberry Finn.”
“Good heavens!” said his grandmother, “that vulgar Mark Twain?”
Momently his birthday was slipping through his fingers,
Till, “Blow and make a wish,” said his sister. So he blew.
Out went four candles, the wind blew out the other three,
And he was disappointed that he’d blown out so few.
His mother said. “How wonderful! Four sevenths of your happiness
Is way above the average for your wishes to come true.”
The Rector and the members of the older generation
Put aside their plates and settled comfortably to chat.
His brother went to baseball, his sister to a friend’s house,
And everything seemed suddenly quite commonplace and flat.
Freed from all attention now, his birthday party over with,
He chose a book called Storyland and lost himself in that.