Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
210. From “The Sinless Child”
By Elizabeth Oakes Smith
HER ways were gentle while a babe,
  With calm and tranquil eye,
That turned instinctively to seek
  The blueness of the sky.
A holy smile was on her lip        5
  Whenever sleep was there;
She slept, as sleeps the blossom, hushed
  Amid the silent air.
And ere she left with tottling steps
  The low-roofed cottage door,        10
The beetle and the cricket loved
  The young child on the floor;
For every insect dwelt secure
  Where little Eva played,
And piped for her its blithest song        15
  When she in greenwood strayed.
With wing of gauze and mailëd coat
  They gathered round her feet,
Rejoiced, as are all gladsome things,
  A truthful soul to greet.        20
They taught her infant lips to sing
  With them a hymn of praise,
The song that in the woods is heard,
  Through the long summer days.
And everywhere the child was traced        25
  By snatches of wild song
That marked her feet along the vale
  Or hillside, fleet and strong.
She knew the haunts of every bird—
  Where bloomed the sheltered flower,        30
So sheltered that the searching frost
  Might scarcely find its bower.
No loneliness young Eva knew,
  Though playmates she had none:
Such sweet companionship was hers,        35
  She could not be alone;
For everything in earth or sky
  Caressed the little child,—
The joyous bird upon the wing,
  The blossom in the wild.        40
Much dwelt she on the green hill-side,
  And under forest tree;
Beside the running, babbling brook,
  Where lithe trout sported free.
She saw them dart, like stringëd gems,        45
  Where the tangled roots were deep,
And learned that love forevermore
  The heart will joyful keep.
She loved all simple flowers that spring
  In grove or sunlit dell,        50
And of each streak and varied hue
  Would pretty meanings tell.
For her a language was impressed
  On every leaf that grew,
And lines revealing brighter worlds        55
  That seraph fingers drew.
The opening bud that lightly swung
  Upon the dewy air,
Moved in its very sportiveness
  Beneath angelic care;        60
She saw that pearly fingers oped
  Each curved and painted leaf,
And where the canker-worm had been
  Were looks of angel grief.
Each tiny leaf became a scroll        65
  Inscribed with holy truth,
A lesson that around the heart
  Should keep the dew of youth,
Bright missals from angelic throngs
  In every byway left:—        70
How were the earth of glory shorn,
  Were it of flowers bereft!
Young Eva said all noisome weeds
  Would pass from earth away,
When virtue in the human heart        75
  Held its predestined sway.
Exalted thoughts were always hers,
  Some deemed them strange and wild;
And hence, in all the hamlets round,
  Her name of Sinless Child.        80


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