Untold lives blog

22 December 2015

Christmas Stock-Taking

Today we share a poem about a Victorian father's Christmas reflections on his children, both dead and alive.


I pass to my populous nursery,
I look round my circled hearth,
On this marvellous anniversary,
This time of the Wondrous Birth.

 

Christmas stocktaking

The first I see is Charlie,
An urchin just fourteen;
I know he smokes in private,
And never washes clean.

And there was a second Charlie,
Who might have shared his sins,
But died without a name on earth
(N.B. – We started with twins).

Arthur, the lazy rascal,
Though sharp as any nail,
Brought face to face with a school-book
Collapses like a snail.

Johnny, how well I remember
His handsome boyish face!
All I can see is the little cross
That marks his resting-place.

Then Bob, a ten-year spalpeen,*
Is dirty as a grub,
And such a veritable imp,
We call him Beelzebub.

Polly, my eldest daughter,
Has eyes as black as sloes;
But where in nature did she get
That impudent pug-nose?

Dora, the next “young lady”,
 Is very prim and staid;
And weeps, though only six years old,
If we call her an old maid.

Freddy, four years, the “baby”,
Was getting rather a lout,
Till, a year ago, came Amy,
And his nose was clean put out.

Amy, asleep beside me,
Pouting, as if to be kissed,
Is the veriest darling among them,
And closes – at present – my list.

*rascal 

The poem and the accompanying illustration come from one of my favourite books in the British Library collections - Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses for young and old by E M Davies.  Fans of Victorian verse will be thrilled to learn that the book has been digitised to share its delights.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

 

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.

Untold lives blog recent posts

Archives

Tags

Other British Library blogs