51 Greatest Poems About Children

We always say that children are our legacy for the future. They hold what tomorrow brings. Moreover, adults are responsible for our dear children to be equipped with integrity, intelligence, and virtue for a better tomorrow.

Almost all people in our society, such as parents, teachers, and school staff, ensure that children have every right to education, health, and freedom. We look forward to their success as that will also be a success in the future, just like the poets. These are fifty-one (51) greatest poems about children. If you want to know how poets describe children in their own ways, these poems are for you.

Keep reading!

Child And Father

A Little child, one night, awoke and cried,
“Oh, help me, father! there is something wild
Before me! help me!” Hurrying to his side
I answered, “I am here. You dreamed, my child.”
“A dream?” he questioned.”Oh, I could not see!
It was so dark! Take me into your bed!”
And I, who loved him, held him soothingly,
And smiling on his terror, comforted.
He nestled in my arms. I held him fast;
And spoke to him and calmed his childish fears,
Until he smiled again, asleep at last,
Upon his lashes still a trace of tears….
How like a child the world! who, in this night
Of strife, beholds strange monsters threatening;
And with black fear, having so little light,
Cries to its Father, God, for comforting.
And well for it, if, answering the call,
The Father hear and soothe its dread asleep!
How many though, whom thoughts and dreams appall,
Must lie awake and in the darkness weep.

Madison Julius Cawein

The Child And The Flower-Elf.

“I was walking, dearest mother,
This morning, by the brook,
And tired at last I rested me
Within a shady nook.

“There all was still and lonely,
And suddenly I heard
A little voice,–a sweeter one
Than note of any bird.

“I looked above, around me,
I saw not whence it came;
And yet that tone of music
Was calling me by name.

“The violet beside me
Bloomed with its purple cup,
And a tiny face, so lovely,
Amidst its leaves peeped up.

“Again the silver music,–
The voice I loved to hear,–
Upon its sweet breath floated,
And bade me not to fear.

“‘I am the elf,’ it whispered,
‘Who in the violet dwells,
And every blossom hides one
Within its fragrant cells.

“‘If you will list our teaching,
And catch our faintest tone,
Your heart will be as spotless,
As loving as our own.’

“And then, as I was gazing,
It vanished from my sight;
Once more the violet nodded,
And sought the sunshine bright.”

“My darling child, the elfins
That live within the flowers
Sweet sounds are ever breathing,
To glad this world of ours.

“Well may we weep and sorrow,
If they are silent all;
Then are our souls too sinful
To heed their spirit call.

“The pure in heart alone can hear
Those precious words and low;
And by their lessons purer yet
Throughout their lives shall grow.”

H. P. Nichols

A Child Asleep

How he sleepeth! having drunken
Weary childhood’s mandragore,
From his pretty eyes have sunken
Pleasures, to make room for more
Sleeping near the withered nosegay, which he pulled the day before.

Nosegays! leave them for the waking:
Throw them earthward where they grew.
Dim are such, beside the breaking
Amaranths he looks unto
Folded eyes see brighter colours than the open ever do.

Heaven-flowers, rayed by shadows golden
From the paths they sprang beneath,
Now perhaps divinely holden,
Swing against him in a wreath
We may think so from the quickening of his bloom and of his breath.

Vision unto vision calleth,
While the young child dreameth on.
Fair, O dreamer, thee befalleth
With the glory thou hast won!
Darker wert thou in the garden, yestermorn, by summer sun.

We should see the spirits ringing
Round thee, were the clouds away.
‘Tis the child-heart draws them, singing
In the silent-seeming clay
Singing! Stars that seem the mutest, go in music all the way.

As the moths around a taper,
As the bees around a rose,
As the gnats around a vapour,
So the Spirits group and close
Round about a holy childhood, as if drinking its repose.

Shapes of brightness overlean thee,
Flash their diadems of youth
On the ringlets which half screen thee,
While thou smilest, . . . not in sooth
Thy smile . . . but the overfair one, dropt from some aethereal mouth.

Haply it is angels’ duty,
During slumber, shade by shade:
To fine down this childish beauty
To the thing it must be made,
Ere the world shall bring it praises, or the tomb shall see it fade.

Softly, softly! make no noises!
Now he lieth dead and dumb
Now he hears the angels’ voices
Folding silence in the room
Now he muses deep the meaning of the Heaven-words as they come.

Speak not! he is consecrated
Breathe no breath across his eyes.
Lifted up and separated,
On the hand of God he lies,
In a sweetness beyond touching held in cloistral sanctities.

Could ye bless him father mother ?
Bless the dimple in his cheek?
Dare ye look at one another,
And the benediction speak?
Would ye not break out in weeping, and confess yourselves too weak?

He is harmless ye are sinful,
Ye are troubled he, at ease:
From his slumber, virtue winful
Floweth outward with increase
Dare not bless him! but be blessed by his peace and go in peace.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Child At The Gate

The sunset was a sleepy gold,
And stars were in the skies
When down a weedy lane he strolled
In vague and thoughtless wise.

And then he saw it, near a wood,
An old house, gabled brown,
Like some old woman, in a hood,
Looking toward the town.

A child stood at its broken gate,
Singing a childish song,
And weeping softly as if Fate
Had done her child’s heart wrong.

He spoke to her:”Now tell me, dear,
Why do you sing and weep?”
But she she did not seem to hear,
But stared as if asleep.

Then suddenly she turned and fled
As if with soul of fear.
He followed; but the house looked dead,
And empty many a year.

The light was wan: the dying day
Grew ghostly suddenly:
And from the house he turned away,
Wrapped in its mystery.

They told him no one dwelt there now:
It was a haunted place.
And then it came to him, somehow,
The memory of a face.

That child’s like hers, whose name was Joy
For whom his heart was fain:
The face of her whom, when a boy,
He played with in that lane.

Madison Julius Cawein

Child Ballad

Jesus, He loves one and all,
Jesus, He loves children small,
Their souls are waiting round His feet
On high, before His mercy-seat.

While He wandered here below
Children small to Him did go,
At His feet they knelt and prayed,
On their heads His hands He laid.

Came a Spirit on them then,
Better than of mighty men,
A Spirit faithful, pure and mild,
A Spirit fit for king and child.

Oh! that Spirit give to me,
Jesus Lord, where’er I be!


Charles Kingsley

Child, Child

Child, child, love while you can
The voice and the eyes and the soul of a man;
Never fear though it break your heart,
Out of the wound new joy will start;
Only love proudly and gladly and well,
Though love be heaven or love be hell.

Child, child, love while you may,
For life is short as a happy day;
Never fear the thing you feel,
Only by love is life made real;
Love, for the deadly sins are seven,
Only through love will you enter heaven.

Sara Teasdale

The Child Impaled

Beside the path, on either hand,
To keep the garden beds,
The rusted iron pickets stand
Thin shafts and pointed heads.

And straight my spirit swooping goes
Across the waves of time
Till I’m a little boy who knows
A fence is made to climb;

And bed and lawn and gloomy space
By thicket overgrown
Are wonderlands where I may trace
The beckoning Unknown.

But O the cruelty that strikes
My elder heart with dread
The writhing form upon the spikes,
The trickled pool of red!

So, every day I pass and see
The fence the urchin scales,
The little boy stands up in me
To curse the iron rails.

John Le Gay Brereton

The Child In Our Soul

Toward God in heaven spacious
With artless faith a boy looks free,
As toward his mother gracious,
And top of Christmas-tree.
But early in the storm of youth
There wounds him deep the serpent’s tooth;
His childhood’s faith is doubted
And flouted.

Soon stands in radiant splendor
With bridal wreath his boyhood’s dream;
Her loving eyes and tender
The light of heaven’s faith stream.
As by his mother’s knee of yore
God’s name he stammers yet once more,
The rue of tears now paying
And praying.

When now life’s conflict stirring
Leads him along through doubtings wild,
Then upward points unerring
Close by his side his child.
With children he a child is still
And whatsoe’er his heart may chill,
Prayer for his son is warming,

The greatest man in wonder
Must ward the child within his breast,
And list ‘mid loudest thunder
Its whisperings unrepressed.
Where oft a hero fell with shame,
The child it was restored his name,
His better self revealing,
And healing.

All great things thought created
In child-like joy sprang forth and grew;
All strength with goodness mated,
Obeyed the child’s voice true.
When beauty in the soul held sway,
The child gave it in artless play; –
All wisdom worldly-minded
Is blinded.

Hail him, who forward presses
So far that he a home is worth
For there alone possesses
The child-life peace on earth.
Though worn we grieve and hardened grow,
What solace ‘t is our home to know
With children’s laughter ringing
And singing.

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

The Child In The Story Awakes

The light of dawn rose on my dreams,
And from afar I seemed to hear
In sleep the mellow blackbird call
Hollow and sweet and clear.

I prythee, Nurse, my casement open,
Wildly the garden peals with singing,
And hooting through the dewy pines
The goblins all are winging.

O listen the droning of the bees,
That in the roses take delight!
And see a cloud stays in the blue
Like an angel still and bright.

The gentle sky is spread like silk,
And, Nurse, the moon doth languish there,
As if it were a perfect jewel
In the morning’s soft-spun hair.

The greyness of the distant hills
Is silvered in the lucid East,
See, now the sheeny-plum’d cock
Wags haughtily his crest.

‘O come you out, O come you out,
Lily, and lavender, and lime;
The kingcup swings his golden bell,
And plumpy cherries drum the time.

‘O come you out, O come you out!
Roses, and dew, and mignonette,
The sun is in the steep blue sky,
Sweetly the morning star is set.’

Walter De La Mare

The Child In The Story Goes To Bed

I prythee, Nurse, come smooth my hair,
And prythee, Nurse, unloose my shoe,
And trimly turn my silken sheet
Upon my quilt of gentle blue.

My pillow sweet of lavender
Smooth with an amiable hand,
And may the dark pass peacefully by
As in the hour-glass droops the sand.

Prepare my cornered manchet sweet,
And in my little crystal cup
Pour out the blithe and flowering mead
That forthwith I may sup.

Withdraw my curtains from the night,
And let the crisp’d crescent shine
Upon my eyelids while I sleep,
And soothe me with her beams benign.

From far-away there streams the singing
Of the mellifluent nightingale, –
Surely if goblins hear her lay,
They shall not o’er my peace prevail.

Now quench my silver lamp, prythee,
And bid the harpers harp that tune
Fairies which haunt the meadowlands
Sing clearly to the stars of June.

And bid them play, though I in dreams
No longer heed their pining strains,
For I would not to silence wake
When slumber o’er my senses wanes.

You Angels bright who me defend,
Enshadow me with curv’d wing,
And keep me in the darksome night
Till dawn another day do bring.

Walter De La Mare

Child Made Happy.

In a great city hospital
There lay poor Mary Crosby small,
She had no friends her heart to cheer,
So time with her passed sad and drear.

She sought for ease but all in vain,
Month after month she passed in pain,
She had no relative nor friend
Who aid or comfort could her lend.

A surgeon saw her cheerless state,
And deplored the poor child’s fate,
She tried to make doll of her finger,
And sang to it poor little singer.

Her’s indeed was an awful lot,
The weary days she spent in cot,
For the poor child she could not walk,
And it soon exhausted her to talk.

But surgeon bought her ribbon gay,
And with it she all day did play,
The giver often she did bless,
And thought sometimes she was princess.

For in it she did take such pride,
She fancied she was beauteous bride,
And was possessed of great riches,
Or thought herself a wealthy Duchess.

And she would bind it round her hair,
Imagining that she was fair.
But poor child feels that she must die,
She asks the surgeon to come nigh.

And kindly o’er her he doth stand,
She asked him for to take her hand,
Thanked him for ribbon green and blue,
Then evermore bade him adieu.

James McIntyre

Child Of A Day

Child of a day, thou knowest not
The tears that overflow thy urn,
The gushing eyes that read thy lot,
Nor, if thou knewest, couldst return!

And why the wish! the pure and blest
Watch like thy mother o’er thy sleep.
O peaceful night! O envied rest!
Thou wilt not ever see her weep.

Walter Savage Landor

Child Of Dawn

O gentle vision in the dawn:
My spirit over faint cool water glides.
Child of the day,
To thee;
And thou art drawn
By kindred impulse over silver tides
The dreamy way
To me.

I need thy hands, O gentle wonder-child,
For they are moulded unto all repose;
Thy lips are frail,
And thou art cooler than an April rose;
White are thy words and mild:
Child of the morning, hail!

Breathe thus upon mine eyelids, that we twain
May build the day together out of dreams.
Life, with thy breath upon my eyelids, seems
Exquisite to the utmost bounds of pain.
I cannot live, except as I may be
Compelled for love of thee.
O let us drift,
Frail as the floating silver of a star,
Or like the summer humming of a bee,
Or stream-reflected sunlight through a rift.

I will not hope, because I know, alas,
Morning will glide, and noon, and then the night
Will take thee from me. Everything must pass
Swiftly, but nought so swift as dawn-delight.
If I could hold thee till the day,
Is broad on sea and hill,
Child of repose,
What god can say,
What god or mortal knows,
What dream thou mightest not in me fulfil?

O gentle vision in the dawn:
My spirit over faint cool water glides,
Child of the day,
To thee;
And thou art drawn
By kindred impulse over silver tides
The dreamy way
To me.

Harold Edward Monro

The Child Of The Maid

On Christmas Day The Child was born,
On Christmas Day in the morning;–
–To tread the long way, lone and lorn,
–To wear the bitter crown of thorn,
–To break the heart by man’s sins torn,
–To die at last the Death of Scorn.
For this The Child of The Maid was born,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

But that first day when He was born,
Among the cattle and the corn,
The sweet Maid-Mother wondering,
And sweetly, deeply, pondering
The words that in her heart did ring,
Unto her new-born king did sing,–

“My baby, my baby,
My own little son,
Whence come you,
Where go you,
My own little one?
Whence come you?

Ah now, unto me all alone
That wonder of wonders is properly known.
Where go you?
Ah, that now, ’tis only He knows,
Who sweetly on us, dear, such favour bestows.
In us, dear, this day is some great work begun,–
Ah me, little son dear, I would it were done!
I wonder … I wonder …

“O little, little feet, dears.
So curly, curly sweet!–
How will it be with you, dears,
When all your work’s complete?
O little, little hands, dears,
That creep about my breast!–
What great things you will do, dears,
Before you lie at rest!
O softest little head, dear,
It shall have crown of gold,
For it shall have great honour
Before the world grows old!
O sweet, white, soft round body,
It shall sit upon a throne!
My little one, my little one,
Thou art the Highest’s son!
All this the angel told me,
And so I’m sure it’s true,
For he told me who was coming,–
And that sweet thing is YOU.”

On Christmas Day The Child was born,
On Christmas Day in the morning;–
–He trod the long way, lone and lorn,
–He wore the bitter crown of thorn,
–His hands and feet and heart were torn,
–He died at last the Death of Scorn.
But through His coming Death was slain,
That you and I might live again.

For this The Child of The Maid was born,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham)

The Child of the Poet

The sunshine of thy Father’s fame
Sleeps in the shadows of thy eyes,
And flashes sometimes when his name
Like a lost star seeks its skies.

In the horizons of thy heart
His memory shines for aye,
A light that never shall depart
Nor lose a single ray.

Thou passest thro’ the crowds unknown,
So gentle, so sweet, and so shy;
Thy heart throbs fast and sometimes may grow low;
Then alone
Art the star in thy Father’s sky.

‘Tis fame enough for thee to bear his name —
Thou couldst not ask for more;
Thou art the jewel of thy Father’s fame,
He waiteth on the bright and golden shore;
He prayeth in the great Eternity
Beside God’s throne for thee.

Abram Joseph Ryan

A Child Said, What Is The Grass?

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Walt Whitman

Child Saved By Dog.

Johnston he is an engineer,
He always looks if track is clear,
For he hath a keen eagle eye,
Danger afar he doth espy.

And he hath too a warm true heart,
Of others woes he shares a part;
One day he gazed far down the line,
And a large dog he could define.

So eager busy on the track,
In mouth it seemed to lift a pack,
But it oftentimes did fail
For to raise it o’er the rail.

The engineer put on his steam
And he loud made his whistle scream,
So that the dog would take alarm
And thus preserve his life from harm.

This noble dog, it feared not danger,
Fear to him it was a stranger,
His mistress child he wished to save,
And all the danger he would brave.

His last great effort did prevail,
He raised it safe beyond the rail,
Into a snug and hollow spot,
A place seem’d formed for a child’s cot.

This dog of noble mastiff breed,
For his own safety took no heed,
But at approaching train did bark,
To make them to his troubles hark.

The engineer did sad bewail,
To see the dog still on the rail,
A moment more the beast is slain,
Cut in two by the cruel train.

The engineer now shuts off steam
For to investigate the theme,
That caused the dog to die at post,
Finds to save child its life it lost.

Faithful in the cause of duty,
Saving life of little beauty,
A little darling three year old,
More precious than her weight in gold.

On track she wandered for to play,
But soon she in quiet slumber lay,
And all the efforts of old Towser,
Were not able to arouse her.

The mother now in agony wild,
Rushed down to train to find her child,
There she found it sweetly sleeping,
While some for faithful dog were weeping.

And a brave man was engineer,
For he himself knew not of fear,
But his heart was filled with pain,
Because the noble dog was slain.

James McIntyre



The City Child.

Dainty little maiden, whither would you wander?
Whither from this pretty home, the home where mother dwells?
‘Far and far away,’ said the dainty little maiden,
‘All among the gardens, auriculas, anemones,
Roses and lilies and Canterbury-bells.’

Dainty little maiden, whither would you wander?
Whither from this pretty house, this city-house of ours?
‘Far and far away,’ said the dainty little maiden,
‘All among the meadows, the clover and the clematis,
Daisies and kingcups and honeysuckle-flowers.’


Minnie and Winnie.

Minnie and Winnie
Slept in a shell.
Sleep, little ladies!
And they slept well.

Pink was the shell within,
Silver without;
Sounds of the great sea
Wander’d about.

Sleep, little ladies!
Wake not soon!
Echo on echo
Dies to the moon.

Two bright stars
Peep’d into the shell.
‘What are they dreaming of?
Who can tell?’

Started a green linnet
Out of the croft;
Wake, little ladies,
The sun is aloft!


Still linger in our noon of time
And on our Saxon tongue
The echoes of the home-born hymns
The Aryan mothers sung.

And childhood had its litanies
In every age and clime;
The earliest cradles of the race
Were rocked to poet’s rhyme.

Nor sky, nor wave, nor tree, nor flower,
Nor green earth’s virgin sod,
So moved the singer’s heart of old
As these small ones of God.

The mystery of unfolding life
Was more than dawning morn,
Than opening flower or crescent moon
The human soul new-born.

And still to childhood’s sweet appeal
The heart of genius turns,
And more than all the sages teach
From lisping voices learns,

The voices loved of him who sang,
Where Tweed and Teviot glide,
That sound to-day on all the winds
That blow from Rydal-side,

Heard in the Teuton’s household songs,
And folk-lore of the Finn,
Where’er to holy Christmas hearths
The Christ-child enters in!

Before life’s sweetest mystery still
The heart in reverence kneels;
The wonder of the primal birth
The latest mother feels.

We need love’s tender lessons taught
As only weakness can;
God hath His small interpreters;
The child must teach the man.

We wander wide through evil years,
Our eyes of faith grow dim;
But he is freshest from His hands
And nearest unto Him!

And haply, pleading long with Him
For sin-sick hearts and cold,
The angels of our childhood still
The Father’s face behold.

Of such the kingdom! Teach Thou us,
O-Master most divine,
To feel the deep significance
Of these wise words of Thine!

The haughty eye shall seek in vain
What innocence beholds;
No cunning finds the key of heaven,
No strength its gate unfolds.

Alone to guilelessness and love
That gate shall open fall;
The mind of pride is nothingness,
The childlike heart is all

John Greenleaf Whittier

The Child Who Would Not Be Washed

“Don’t wash me, pray, mamma, today,”
I once heard little Jennie say,
“For oh! so very hard you rub,
I never want to see my tub.”

“O, very well,” her mother said;
“I’ll put you back again to bed;
And you must in your night-gown stay,
Nor come down stairs at all to-day.”

And then I heard Miss Jennie cry,
And beg mamma to let her try;
And say, as she had done before,
That she’d so naughty be no more.

Her mother turned and left her there;
She heard her step upon the stair;
But in her chamber, all day long,
She staid alone, for doing wrong.

She heard her sister jump and run,
And longed to join her in her fun;
Her brother made a snow-man high;
But she upon her bed must lie.

She heard the merry sleigh-bells ring,
And to the door come clattering;
But Jennie could not go to ride
In night-clothes by her father’s side.

And glad was she, as you may guess,
The next day to put on her dress;
She ran and told her mother then
She never would do so again.

H. P. Nichols

The Child Year


“Dying of hunger and sorrow:
I die for my youth I fear!”
Murmured the midnight-haunting
Voice of the stricken Year.

There like a child it perished
In the stormy thoroughfare:
The snow with cruel whiteness
Had aged its flowing hair.

Ah, little Year so fruitful,
Ah, child that brought us bliss,
Must we so early lose you –
Our dear hopes end in this?


“Too young am I, too tender,
To bear earth’s avalanche
Of wrong, that grinds down life-hope,
And makes my heart’s-blood blanch.

“Tell him who soon shall follow
Where my tired feet have bled,
He must be older, shrewder,
Hard, cold, and selfish-bred –

“Or else like me be trampled
Under the harsh world’s heel.
‘Tis weakness to be youthful;
‘Tis death to love and feel.”


Then saw I how the New Year
Came like a scheming man,
With icy eyes, his forehead
Wrinkled by care and plan

For trade and rule and profit.
To him the fading child
Looked up and cried, “Oh, brother!”
But died even while it smiled.

Down bent the harsh new-comer
To lift with loving arm
The wanderer mute and fallen;
And lo! his eyes were warm;

All changed he grew; the wrinkles
Vanished: he, too, looked young –
As if that lost child’s spirit
Into his breast had sprung.

So are those lives not wasted,
Too frail to bear the fray.
So Years may die, yet leave us
Young hearts in a world grown gray.

George Parsons Lathrop


What trifles touch our feelings, when we view
The simple scenes of Childhood’s early day,
Pausing on spots where gather’d blossoms grew,
Or favour’d seats of many a childish play;
Bush, dyke, or wood, where painted pooties lay,
Where oft we’ve crept and crept the shades among,
Where ivy hung old roots bemoss’d with grey,
Where nettles oft our infant fingers stung,
And tears would weep the gentle wounds away:–
Ah, gentle wounds indeed, I well may say,
To those sad Manhood’s tortur’d passage found,
Where naked Fate each day new pangs doth feel,
Clearing away the brambles that surround,
Inflicting tortures death can only heal.

John Clare

Childhood Calls

Come over, come over the deepening river,
Come over again the dark torrent of years,
Come over, come back where the green leaves quiver,
And the lilac still blooms and the grey sky clears.
Come, come back to the everlasting garden,
To that green heaven, and the blue heaven above.
Come back to the time when time brought no burden
And love was unconscious, knowing not love.

John Frederick Freeman

Childish Griefs.

Softened by Time’s consummate plush,
How sleek the woe appears
That threatened childhood’s citadel
And undermined the years!
Bisected now by bleaker griefs,
We envy the despair
That devastated childhood’s realm,
So easy to repair.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson


Up to the little grave, with blossoms kept,
They went together; and one hid her face,
And spoke aloud the boy’s dear name, and wept.
The other woman stood apart a space.
And prayed to God. “If only I,” she said,
“Might keep a grave, and mourn my little dead!”

Margaret Steele Anderson

The Childhood Of Jesus.

Of the childhood of our Saviour
Tells one simple verse alone;
Yet from that his whole behavior
When he was a child, is known.

He was subject to his mother,
So the holy Scriptures say;
‘Tis enough, we need no other
Record of him day by day.

Thus we, his obedience knowing,
Know how gentle and how mild,–
How in truth and goodness growing
Was our Saviour from a child.

Little children, who endeavor
Like the blessed One to be,
As you try, remember ever
How obedient was he.

If, like Jesus pure and holy,
You your parents’ will obey,
You will grow more meek and lowly,
And more like him, every day.

H. P. Nichols

The Childless Father

“Up, Timothy, up with your staff and away!
Not a soul in the village this morning will stay;
The hare has just started from Hamilton’s grounds,
And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds.”

Of coats and of jackets grey, scarlet, and green,
On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen;
With their comely blue aprons, and caps white as snow,
The girls on the hills made a holiday show.

Fresh sprigs of green box-wood, not six months before,
Filled the funeral basin at Timothy’s door;
A coffin through Timothy’s threshold had past;
One Child did it bear, and that Child was his last.

Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray,
The horse and the horn, and the hark! hark away!
Old Timothy took up his staff, and he shut
With a leisurely motion the door of his hut.

Perhaps to himself at that moment he said;
“The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead.”
But of this in my ears not a word did he speak;
And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek.

William Wordsworth

Children At Play

I hear a merry noise indeed:
Is it the geese and ducks that take
Their first plunge in a quiet pond
That into scores of ripples break,
Or children make this merry sound?

I see an oak tree, its strong back
Could not be bent an inch though all
Its leaves were stone, or iron even:
A boy, with many a lusty call,
Rides on a bough bareback through Heaven.

I see two children dig a hole
And plant in it a cherry-stone:
“We’ll come to-morrow,” one child said,
“And then the tree will be full grown,
And all its boughs have cherries red.”

Ah, children, what a life to lead:
You love the flowers, but when they’re past
No flowers are missed by your bright eyes;
And when cold winter comes at last,
Snowflakes shall be your butterflies.

William Henry Davies

Children Of Light

Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen’s bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva’s night,
They planted here the Serpent’s seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning the unburied grain.

Robert Lowell

Children Of Love

The holy boy
Went from his mother out in the cool of the day
Over the sun-parched fields
And in among the olives shining green and shining grey.

There was no sound,
No smallest voice of any shivering stream.
Poor sinless little boy,
He desired to play and to sing; he could only sigh and dream.

Suddenly came
Running along to him naked, with curly hair,
That rogue of the lovely world,
That other beautiful child whom the virgin Venus bare.

The holy boy
Gazed with those sad blue eyes that all men know.
Impudent Cupid stood
Panting, holding an arrow and pointing his bow.

(Will you not play?
Jesus, run to him, run to him, swift for our joy.
Is he not holy, like you?
Are you afraid of his arrows, O beautiful dreaming boy?)

And now they stand
Watching one another with timid gaze;
Youth has met youth in the wood,
But holiness will not change its melancholy ways.

Cupid at last
Draws his bow and softly lets fly a dart.
Smile for a moment, sad world! –
It has grazed the white skin and drawn blood from the sorrowful heart.

Now, for delight,
Cupid tosses his locks and goes wantonly near;
But the child that was born to the cross
Has let fall on his cheek, for the sadness of life, a compassionate tear.

Marvellous dream!
Cupid has offered his arrows for Jesus to try;
He has offered his bow for the game.
But Jesus went weeping away, and left him there wondering why.

Harold Edward Monro

The Children Of Stare

Winter is fallen early
On the house of Stare;
Birds in reverberating flocks
Haunt its ancestral box;
Bright are the plenteous berries
In clusters in the air.

Still is the fountain’s music,
The dark pool icy still,
Whereupon a small and sanguine sun
Floats in a mirror on,
Into a West of crimson,
From a South of daffodil.

‘Tis strange to see young children
In such a wintry house;
Like rabbits’ on the frozen snow
Their tell-tale footprints go;
Their laughter rings like timbrels
‘Neath evening ominous:

Their small and heightened faces
Like wine-red winter buds;
Their frolic bodies gentle as
Flakes in the air that pass,
Frail as the twirling petal
From the briar of the woods.

Above them silence lours,
Still as an arctic sea;
Light fails; night falls; the wintry moon
Glitters; the crocus soon
Will ope grey and distracted
On earth’s austerity:

Thick mystery, wild peril,
Law like an iron rod: –
Yet sport they on in Spring’s attire,
Each with his tiny fire
Blown to a core of ardour
By the awful breath of God.

Walter De La Mare

The Children Of The Poor.

(“Prenez garde ‘ ce petit ‘tre.”)


Take heed of this small child of earth;
He is great: in him is God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth
Are lights in the blue sky.

In our brief bitter world of wrong
They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue,
And His forgiveness in their smile.

Their sweet light rests upon our eyes:
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry, Paradise
Weeps, and if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.

The want that saps their sinless flower
Speaks judgment on Sin’s ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs.

When God seeks out these tender things,
Whom in the shadow where we keep,
He sends them clothed about with wings,
And finds them ragged babes that weep!

Dublin University Magazine.

Victor-Marie Hugo

The Children’s Heaven.

The infant lies in blessed ease
Upon his mother’s breast;
No storm, no dark, the baby sees
Invade his heaven of rest.
He nothing knows of change or death–
Her face his holy skies;
The air he breathes, his mother’s breath;
His stars, his mother’s eyes!

Yet half the soft winds wandering there
Are sighs that come of fears;
The dew slow falling through that air–
It is the dew of tears;
And ah, my child, thy heavenly home
Hath storms as well as dew;
Black clouds fill sometimes all its dome,
And quench the starry blue!

“My smile would win no smile again,
If baby saw the things
That ache across his mother’s brain
The while to him she sings!
Thy faith in me is faith in vain–
I am not what I seem:
O dreary day, O cruel pain,
That wakes thee from thy dream!”

Nay, pity not his dreams so fair,
Fear thou no waking grief;
Oh, safer he than though thou were
Good as his vague belief!
There is a heaven that heaven above
Whereon he gazes now;
A truer love than in thy kiss;
A better friend than thou!

The Father’s arms fold like a nest
Both thee and him about;
His face looks down, a heaven of rest,
Where comes no dark, no doubt.
Its mists are clouds of stars that move
On, on, with progress rife;
Its winds, the goings of his love;
Its dew, the dew of life.

We for our children seek thy heart,
For them we lift our eyes:
Lord, should their faith in us depart,
Let faith in thee arise.
When childhood’s visions them forsake,
To women grown and men,
Back to thy heart their hearts oh take,
And bid them dream again.

George MacDonald

The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Children’s Hymn For Their Patroness. (From The Villager’s Verse-Book.)

On God, whose eyes are over all,
Who shows to all a father’s care,
First, with each voice, we children call,
And humbly raise our daily prayer.

And next, to her, who placed us here,
The path of knowledge to pursue,
(Oh! witness all we have – a tear!)
Our heartfelt gratitude is due.

Our parents, when they draw their breath,
In pain, and to the grave descend,
Shall smile upon the bed of death,
To think their children have a friend.

As slow our infant thoughts expand,
And life unfolds its opening road,
We still shall bless the bounteous hand
That kind protection first bestowed.

And still, with fervour we shall pray,
When she to distant scenes shall go;
That God, in blessing, might repay
The blessings which to her we owe!

William Lisle Bowles

The Children’s Song

Land of our Birth, we pledge to thee
Our love and toil in the years to be;
When we are grown and take our place
As men and women with our race.

Father in Heaven who lovest all,
Oh, help Thy children when they call;
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage.

Teach us to bear the yoke in youth,
With steadfastness and careful truth;
That, in our time, Thy Grace may give
The Truth whereby the Nations live.

Teach us to rule ourselves alway,
Controlled and cleanly night and day;
That we may bring, if need arise,
No maimed or worthless sacrifice.

Teach us to look in all our ends
On Thee for judge, and not our friends;
That we, with Thee, may walk uncowed
By fear or favour of the crowd.

Teach us the Strength that cannot seek,
By deed or thought, to hurt the weak;
That, under Thee, we may possess
Man’s strength to comfort man’s distress.

Teach us Delight in simple things,
And Mirth that has no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And Love to all men ‘neath the sun!

Land of our Birth, our faith, our pride,
For whose dear sake our fathers died;
Oh, Motherland, we pledge to thee
Head, heart and hand through the years to be!

Rudyard Kipling

Children’s Song.

We little children join to praise
The Holy Child of endless days.
The Lord of glory undefiled
Was once like us a little child.

“Sweetly, sweetly, sweetly singing,
Let us praise him, praise him, praise him, bringing
Happy voices, voices, voices ringing
Like the songs of the angels round the throne.”

He hears the ravens when they call,
He sees the little sparrows fall,
He heard the little children sing
Hosanna to the Saviour King.
Sweetly, &c.

O Jesus, we sing to praise thee,
Who said let children come to me;
We gather round the mercy seat,
O let our songs to thee be sweet.
Sweetly, &c.

Jesus, our Master, Lord and King,
Spread over us thy sheltering wing,
Keep us unspotted, let us be
Thy children singing praise to thee.
Sweetly, &c.

Nora Pembroke (Margaret Moran Dixon McDougall)

A Child’s Amaze

Slient and amazed, even when a little boy,
I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God in his
As contending against some being or influence.

Walt Whitman

The Child’s Dream.

Buried in childhood’s cloudless dreams, a fair-haired nursling lay,
A soft smile hovered round the lips as if still oped to pray;
And then a vision came to him, of beauty, strange and mild,
Such as may only fill the dreams of a pure sinless child.

Stood by his couch an angel fair, with radiant, glitt’ring wings
Of hues as bright as the living gems the fount to Heaven flings;
With loving smile he bent above the fair child cradled there,
While sounds of sweet seraphic power stole o’er the fragrant air.

“Child, list to me,” he softly said, “on mission high I’m here:
Sent by that Glorious One to whom Heav’n bows in loving fear;
I seek thee now, whilst thou art still on the threshold of earth’s strife,
To speak of what thou knowest not yet, this new and wond’rous life.

“Dost cling to it? dost find this earth a fair and lovely one?
Dost love its bright-dyed birds and flowers, its radiant golden sun?
I come to bid thee leave it all – to turn from its bright bloom,
And, having closed thine eyes in death, descend into the tomb.

“Thou shudderest, child! with restless gaze from me thou turn’st away;
‘Mid summer flowers and singing birds wouldst thou remain to play;
Thou still wouldst bask in the dear light of thy fond father’s smile,
And on thy mother’s doating heart would linger yet awhile.

“‘Tis well, sweet child, I blame thee not, but in spheres far away
Are blossoms lovelier far than those which tempt thee here to stay;
And if the love of parents fond with joy thy heart doth fill,
In those bright distant realms is One who loves thee better still!

“That One for thee in suffering lived – for thy sake, too, he died;
Oh! like the ocean is His love, as deep, my child, as wide.
Leave, then, this earth ere hideous sin thy spotless brow shall dim –
One struggling breath, one parting pang, and then thou’lt be with Him!”

A smile lit up the sleeper’s face, but soon it softly fled,
The rose leaf cheeks and lips grew wan – could it be the child was dead?
Yes, dead – and spared the ills of life, and in bright bliss above
The pure soul nestles in the light of God’s unbounded Love.

Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

A Child’s Future

What will it please you, my darling, hereafter to be?
Fame upon land will you look for, or glory by sea?
Gallant your life will be always, and all of it free.

Free as the wind when the heart of the twilight is stirred
Eastward, and sounds from the springs of the sunrise are heard:
Free, and we know not another as infinite word.

Darkness or twilight or sunlight may compass us round,
Hate may arise up against us, or hope may confound;
Love may forsake us; yet may not the spirit be bound.

Free in oppression of grief as in ardour of joy
Still may the soul be, and each to her strength as a toy:
Free in the glance of the man as the smile of the boy.

Freedom alone is the salt and the spirit that gives
Life, and without her is nothing that verily lives:
Death cannot slay her: she laughs upon death and forgives.

Brightest and hardiest of roses anear and afar
Glitters the blithe little face of you, round as a star:
Liberty bless you and keep you to be as you are.

England and liberty bless you and keep you to be
Worthy the name of their child and the sight of their sea:
Fear not at all; for a slave, if he fears not, is free.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

A Child’s Grace

Here a little child I stand
Heaving up my either hand;
Cold as paddocks though they be,
Here I lift them up to Thee,
For a benison to fall
On our meat and on us all. Amen

Robert Herrick

A Child’s Laughter

All the bells of heaven may ring,
All the birds of heaven may sing,
All the wells on earth may spring,
All the winds on earth may bring
All sweet sounds together;
Sweeter far than all things heard,
Hand of harper, tone of bird,
Sound of woods at sundawn stirred,
Welling water’s winsome word,
Wind in warm wan weather,

One thing yet there is, that none
Hearing ere its chime be done
Knows not well the sweetest one
Heard of man beneath the sun,
Hoped in heaven hereafter;
Soft and strong and loud and light,
Very sound of very light
Heard from morning’s rosiest height,
When the soul of all delight
Fills a child’s clear laughter.

Golden bells of welcome rolled
Never forth such notes, nor told
Hours so blithe in tones so bold,
As the radiant mouth of gold
Here that rings forth heaven.
If the golden-crested wren
Were a nightingale, why, then,
Something seen and heard of men
Might be half as sweet as when
Laughs a child of seven.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

A Child’s Nightmare

Through long nursery nights he stood
By my bed unwearying,
Loomed gigantic, formless, queer,
Purring in my haunted ear
That same hideous nightmare thing,
Talking, as he lapped my blood,
In a voice cruel and flat,
Saying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”

That one word was all he said,
That one word through all my sleep,
In monotonous mock despair.
Nonsense may be light as air,
But there’s Nonsense that can keep
Horror bristling round the head,
When a voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”

He had faded, he was gone
Years ago with Nursery Land
When he leapt on me again
From the clank of a night train,
Overpowered me foot and head,
Lapped my blood, while on and on
The old voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, “Cat!… Cat!… Cat!…”

Morphia drowsed, again I lay
In a crater by High Wood:
He was there with straddling legs,
Staring eyes as big as eggs,
Purring as he lapped my blood,
His black bulk darkening the day,
With a voice cruel and flat,
“Cat!… Cat!… Cat!…” he said,
“Cat!… Cat!…”

When I’m shot through heart and head,
And there’s no choice but to die,
The last word I’ll hear, no doubt,
Won’t be “Charge!” or “Bomb them out!”
Nor the stretcher-bearer’s cry,
“Let that body be, he’s dead!”
But a voice cruel and flat
Saying for ever, “Cat!… Cat!… Cat!”

Robert von Ranke Graves

A Child’s Pity

No sweeter thing than children’s ways and wiles,
Surely, we say, can gladden eyes and ears:
Yet sometime sweeter than their words or smiles
Are even their tears.

To one for once a piteous tale was read,
How, when the murderous mother crocodile
Was slain, her fierce brood famished, and lay dead,
Starved, by the Nile.

In vast green reed-beds on the vast grey slime
Those monsters motherless and helpless lay,
Perishing only for the parent’s crime
Whose seed were they.

Hours after, toward the dusk, our blithe small bird
Of Paradise, who has our hearts in keeping,
Was heard or seen, but hardly seen or heard,
For pity weeping.

He was so sorry, sitting still apart,
For the poor little crocodiles, he said.
Six years had given him, for an angel’s heart,
A child’s instead.

Feigned tears the false beasts shed for murderous ends,
We know from travellers’ tales of crocodiles:
But these tears wept upon them of my friend’s
Outshine his smiles.

What heavenliest angels of what heavenly city
Could match the heavenly heart in children here?
The heart that hallowing all things with its pity
Casts out all fear?

So lovely, so divine, so dear their laughter
Seems to us, we know not what could be more dear:
But lovelier yet we see the sign thereafter
Of such a tear.

With sense of love half laughing and half weeping
We met your tears, our small sweet-spirited friend:
Let your love have us in its heavenly keeping
To life’s last end.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

The Child’s Question.

“What are the flowers for, mamma,
That spring up fresh and bright,
And grow on every hill and plain,
Where’er I turn my sight?

“How do the flowers grow, mamma?
I’ve pulled the leaves away,
And tried to see them blossom out,
On many a summer’s day.”

“The flowers were made, my little child,
That when our footsteps trod
Upon the green and pleasant fields,
We then might think of God.

“We may not see how they do grow,
And bloom in beauty fair;
We cannot tell how they can spread
Their small leaves to the air:

“But yet we know that God’s kind hand
Creates these little flowers,
And makes the warm sun shine on them,
And waters them with showers.

“And so we love to think that He,
Who paints their sweet leaves thus,
Who sends the sunshine and the rain,
Has thought and care for us.”

H. P. Nichols

Child’s Song.

The King and the Queen were riding
Upon a Summer’s day,
And a Blackbird flew above them,
To hear what they did say.
The King said he liked apples,
The Queen said she liked pears.
And what shall we do to the Blackbird
Who listens unawares.

Kate Greenaway

The Child’s Wish Granted

Do you remember, my sweet, absent son,
How in the soft June days forever done
You loved the heavens so warm and clear and high;
And when I lifted you, soft came your cry, –
“Put me ‘way up – ‘way, ‘way up in blue sky”?

I laughed and said I could not; – set you down,
Your gray eyes wonder-filled beneath that crown
Of bright hair gladdening me as you raced by.
Another Father now, more strong than I,
Has borne you voiceless to your dear blue sky.

George Parsons Lathrop

A Child-World

The Child-World – long and long since lost to view –
A Fairy Paradise! –
How always fair it was and fresh and new –
How every affluent hour heaped heart and eyes
With treasures of surprise!

Enchantments tangible: The under-brink
Of dawns that launched the sight
Up seas of gold: The dewdrop on the pink,
With all the green earth in it and blue height
Of heavens infinite:

The liquid, dripping songs of orchard-birds –
The wee bass of the bees, –
With lucent deeps of silence afterwards;
The gay, clandestine whisperings of the breeze
And glad leaves of the trees.

* * * * *

O Child-World: After this world – just as when
I found you first sufficed
My soulmost need – if I found you again,
With all my childish dream so realised,
I should not be surprised.

James Whitcomb Riley

A Child’s Evensong

The sun is weary, for he ran
So far and fast to-day;
The birds are weary, for who sang
So many songs as they?
The bees and butterflies at last
Are tired out, for just think too
How many gardens through the day
Their little wings have fluttered through.
And so, as all tired people do,
They’ve gone to lay their sleepy heads
Deep deep in warm and happy beds.
The sun has shut his golden eye
And gone to sleep beneath the sky,
The birds and butterflies and bees
Have all crept into flowers and trees,
And all lie quiet, still as mice,
Till morning comes – like father’s voice.

So Geoffrey, Owen, Phyllis, you
Must sleep away till morning too.
Close little eyes, down little heads,
And sleep – sleep – sleep in happy beds.

Richard Le Gallienne

A Child’s Pet
When I sailed out of Baltimore
With twice a thousand head of sheep,
They would not eat, they would not drink,
But bleated o’er the deep.

Inside the pens we crawled each day,
To sort the living from the dead;
And when we reached the Mersey’s mouth
Had lost five hundred head.

Yet every night and day one sheep,
That had no fear of man or sea,
Stuck through the bars its pleading face,
And it was stroked by me.

And to the sheep-men standing near,
‘You see,’ I said, ‘this one tame sheep:
It seems a child has lost her pet,
And cried herself to sleep.’

So every time we passed it by,
Sailing to England’s slaughter-house,
Eight ragged sheep-men – tramps and thieves –
Would stroke that sheep’s black nose.

William Henry Davies

A Child’s Treasures.

Thou art home at last, my darling one,
Flushed and tired with thy play,
From morning dawn until setting sun
Hast thou been at sport away;
And thy steps are weary – hot thy brow,
Yet thine eyes with joy are bright, –
Ah! I read the riddle, show me now
The treasures thou graspest tight.

A pretty pebble, a tiny shell,
A feather by wild bird cast,
Gay flowers gathered in forest dell,
Already withering fast,
Four speckled eggs in a soft brown nest,
Thy last and thy greatest prize,
Such the things that fill with joy thy breast,
With laughing light thine eyes.

Ah! my child, what right have I to smile
And whisper, too dearly bought,
By wand’ring many a weary mile –
Dust, heat, and toilsome thought?
For we, the children of riper years,
Task aching heart and brain,
Waste yearning hopes and anxious fears
On baubles just as vain.

For empty title, ribbon or star,
For worshipped and much-sought gold,
How men will struggle at home – afar –
And suffer toils untold;
Plodding their narrow and earth-bound way
Amid restless care and strife,
Wasting not merely a fleeting day,
But the precious years of life.

And thou, fair child, with to-morrow’s dawn
Wilt rise up calm and glad,
To cull wild flowers ‘mid wood and lawn,
Untroubled by memory sad;
But, alas! the worldly-wise of earth,
When life’s last bonds are riven,
Will find that for things of meanest worth
They’ve lost both Life and Heaven.

Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

A Child’s Wish

Before an Altar

I wish I were the little key
That locks Love’s Captive in,
And lets Him out to go and free
A sinful heart from sin.

I wish I were the little bell
That tinkles for the Host,
When God comes down each day to dwell
With hearts He loves the most.

I wish I were the chalice fair,
That holds the Blood of Love,
When every flash lights holy prayer
Upon its way above.

I wish I were the little flower
So near the Host’s sweet face,
Or like the light that half an hour
Burns on the shrine of grace.

I wish I were the altar where,
As on His mother’s breast,
Christ nestles, like a child, fore’er
In Eucharistic rest.

But, oh! my God, I wish the most
That my poor heart may be
A home all holy for each Host
That comes in love to me

Abram Joseph Ryan

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about children.

Let me know which one is your favorite! 😉


3 thoughts on “51 Greatest Poems About Children

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