Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: I. About Children
Little Feet
Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832–1911)
TWO little feet, so small that both may nestle
          In one caressing hand,—
Two tender feet upon the untried border
          Of life’s mysterious land.
Dimpled, and soft, and pink as peach-tree blossoms,        5
          In April’s fragrant days,
How can they walk among the briery tangles,
          Edging the world’s rough ways?
These rose-white feet, along the doubtful future,
          Must bear a mother’s load;        10
Alas! since Woman has the heaviest burden,
          And walks the harder road.
Love, for a while, will make the path before them
          All dainty, smooth, and fair,—
Will cull away the brambles, letting only        15
          The roses blossom there.
But when the mother’s watchful eyes are shrouded
          Away from sight of men,
And these dear feet are left without her guiding,
          Who shall direct them then?        20
How will they be allured, betrayed, deluded,
          Poor little untaught feet!
Into what dreary mazes will they wander,
          What dangers will they meet?
Will they go stumbling blindly in the darkness        25
          Of Sorrow’s tearful shades?
Or find the upland slopes of Peace and Beauty,
          Whose sunlight never fades?
Will they go toiling up Ambition’s summit,
          The common world above?        30
Or in some nameless vale, securely sheltered,
          Walk side by side with Love?
Some feet there be which walk Life’s track unwounded,
          Which find but pleasant ways:
Some hearts there be to which this life is only        35
          A round of happy days.
But these are few. Far more there are who wander
          Without a hope or friend,—
Who find their journey full of pains and losses,
          And long to reach the end.        40
How shall it be with her, the tender stranger,
          Fair-faced and gentle-eyed,
Before whose unstained feet the world’s rude highway
          Stretches so fair and wide?
Ah! who may read the future? For our darling        45
          We crave all blessings sweet,
And pray that He who feeds the crying ravens
          Will guide the baby’s feet.

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