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Little Boy We Used to Know

From The Birmingham Age Herald, November 30, 1913. By Judd Mortimer Lewis.

The little boy whom we used to know,
Who came to us when the day burned low,
Who left his swing and his bat and ball
Who left his playmates and games and all
To come and stand by our easy-chair,
To stand before us with yellow hair,
On sturdy legs—with his feet apart,
Before he snuggled against our heart.
Where is he now with his romp and squeal,
With his little hurts that a kiss would heal?

We heard him say his “I lay me down,”
And we pressed our lips to his tousled crown,
Then his father tiptoed across the gloom
And sat him down in the farther room,
While his mother stayed by his side to croon
A soft bye-low to a world-old tune
While he drifted out into Slumberland;
Then we stood and gazed at him, hand in hand,
And—looking backward to where he lay—
It seems ’twas then that he went away.

It seems that he never came back at all
To the rubber cat and the bouncing ball,
To the old rope swing and the games he knew.
A genie touched him—he grew and grew!
From the room where our baby had sunk to sleep
A youth came forth. And his voice is deep
And his eyes are honest, and he his strong!
And while still echoes the bye-low song,
His lips say “Mother!” and then laugh “Dad!”
And we are frightened—but we are glad!

Sometimes we stand in the little room
By the little bed in the evening’s gloom;
And we miss the faltering “lay me down,”
And we’d give the world for the tousled crown
To kiss once more! Oh, Boy! Grown tall,
We are frightened for you at the thought of all
The dangers that wait your unwary feet!
And grieving—for heartaches you’re bound to meet!
But we are proud for the dear world’s sake
Because of the man you are going to make.

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