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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
‘Ex Ore Infantium’
By Francis Thompson (1859–1907)
 
LITTLE Jesus, wast Thou shy
Once, and just so small as I?
And what did it feel like to be
Out of Heaven, and just like me?
Didst Thou sometimes think of there,        5
And ask where all the angels were?
I should think that I would cry
For my house all made of sky;
I would look about the air,
And wonder where my angels were;        10
And at waking ’twould distress me—
Not an angel there to dress me!
 
Hadst Thou ever any toys,
Like us little girls and boys?
And didst Thou play in Heaven with all        15
The angels that were not too tall,
With stars for marbles? Did the things
Play Can you see me? through their wings?
And did thy Mother let Thee spoil
Thy robes, with playing on our soil?        20
How nice to have them always new
In Heaven, because ’twas quite clean blue!
 
Didst Thou kneel at night to pray,
And didst Thou join thy hands, this way?
And did they tire sometimes, being young,        25
And make the prayer seem very long?
And dost Thou like it best, that we
Should join our hands to pray to Thee?
I used to think, before I knew,
The prayer not said unless we do.        30
And did thy Mother at the night
Kiss Thee, and fold the clothes in right?
And didst Thou feel quite good in bed,
Kiss’d, and sweet, and thy prayers said?
 
Thou canst not have forgotten all        35
That it feels like to be small:
And Thou know’st I cannot pray
To Thee in my father’s way—
When Thou wast so little, say,
Couldst Thou talk thy Father’s way?—        40
So, a little Child, come down
And hear a child’s tongue like thy own;
Take me by the hand and walk,
And listen to my baby-talk.
To thy Father show my prayer        45
(He will look, Thou art so fair),
And say: ‘O Father, I, thy Son,
Bring the prayer of a little one.’
 
And He will smile, that children’s tongue
Has not changed since Thou wast young!        50
 
 
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