Henry Timrod

8 December 1828 - 7 October 1867 / Charleston, South Carolina

Dramatic Fragment

Let the boy have his will! I tell thee, brother,
We treat these little ones too much like flowers,
Training them, in blind selfishness, to deck
Sticks of our poor setting, when they might,
If left to clamber where themselves incline,
Find nobler props to cling to, fitter place,
And sweeter air to bloom in. It is wrong --
Thou striv'st to sow with feelings all thine own,
With thoughts and hopes, anxieties and aims,
Born of thine own peculiar self, and fed
Upon a certain round of circumstance,
A soul as different and distinct from thine
As love of goodness is from love of glory,
Or noble poesy from noble prose.
I could forgive thee, if thou wast of them
Who do their fated parts in this world's business,
Scarce knowing how or why -- for common minds
See not the difference 'twixt themselves and others --
But thou, thou, with the visions which thy youth did cherish
Substantialized upon thy regal brow,
Shouldst boast a deeper insight. We are born,
It is my faith, in miniature completeness,
And like each other only in our weakness.
Even with our mother's milk upon our lips,
Our smiles have different meanings, and our hands
Press with degrees of softness to her bosom.
It is not change -- whatever in the heart
That wears its semblance, we, in looking back,
With gratulation or regret, perceive --
It is not change we undergo, but only
Growth or development. Yes! what is childhood
But after all a sort of golden daylight,
A beautiful and blessed wealth of sunshine,
Wherein the powers and passions of the soul
Sleep starlike but existent, till the night
Of gathering years shall call the slumbers forth,
And they rise up in glory? Early grief,
A shadow like the darkness of eclipse,
Hath sometimes waked them sooner.
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