Harry the First

by Marietta Holley

Marietta Holley

In his arm-chair, warmly cushioned,
In the quiet earned by labor,
Life's reposeful Indian summer,
Grandpa sits; and lets the paper
Lie upon his knee unheeded.
Shine his cheeks like winter apples,
Gleams his smile like autumn sunshine,
As he looks on little Harry,
First-born of the house of Graham,
Bravely cutting teeth in silence,
Cutting teeth with looks heroic.
Some deep thought seems moving Grandpa,
Ponders he awhile in silence,
Then he turns, and says to Grandma,
"Nancy, do you think that ever
There was such a child before?—

Grandma, with prim precision
The seam-stitch impaleth deftly
On her sharp and glittering needle,
Then she turns and answers calmly,
With a deep assurance—"Never
Was there such a child before!—

Papa thinks so, but in manly
Dignity controls his feelings;
More than half a year a father,
He must show a cool composure,
He must stately be if ever.
But his dark eyes plainly tell it,
Tell it, as he sayeth proudly,
"Papa's man is little Harry.—

Mamma, maybe, does not speak it,
But she prints the thought on velvet,
Rosy-hued, with fondest kisses,
When the pink, soft page is lying
Folded closely to her bosom.

A little farther goes his auntie,
Aged fourteen—age of fancy;
She looks down the future ages
With her wise, prophetic vision;
Sees the babies pass before her,
Babies of the twentieth century,
All the long and dusty ages,
To the thousand years of glory.
Oh, the host of bright-eyed children,
Thronging like the stars at midnight,
Faces sweet and countless, as the
Rose-leaves of a thousand summers.
All the pretty heads so curly
That shall hold a riper wisdom
Than our youthful planet dreams of;
All the ranks of dimple shoulders,
That shall move Time's rolling chariot
Nearer to the golden city;
Vieweth these the blue-eyed prophet,
Still the oracle says calmly,
Speaks the seer with golden tresses—
"No! there never was, nor will be
Such a child as our Harry,
Such a noble boy as Harry.—

Summer brings a wealth of flowers,
Flowers of every form and color,
Orange, crimson, royal purple,
All along the mountain passes,
All along the pleasant valley,
Low the emerald branches bendeth
With their weight of summer glory.

But they do not waken in us
Half the tender, blissful feeling,
Half the pure and sweet emotion
As the first spring-flower in April,
With its lashes tinged with crimson,
Partly raised from eyes half-timid,
Fearful that the snow will drown it;
How we love the dainty blossom,
How we wear it in our bosom.

Just so with the tree ancestral,
Many flowers may blossom on it,
But the first wee bud that's grafted,
To its heart, ah, how we love it;
Others may be loved as fondly,
But they are not loved so proudly,
Loved so blindly, so entirely.

Yes, when first the heart's door opens
To the touch of baby fingers,
Quick the dimpled feet will bear them
To the dearest place and warmest
Plenty room enough for other
Buds of beauty, buds of promise,
In the heart's capacious chambers;
But the first is firmly settled—
Little Harry's firmly settled
In the centre of affection;
Later ones must settle round him.

Last updated April 01, 2023