Upon The Disobedient Child

Children become, while little, our delights!
When they grow bigger, they begin to fright's.
Their sinful nature prompts them to rebel,
And to delight in paths that lead to hell.
Their parents' love and care they overlook,
As if relation had them quite forsook.
They take the counsels of the wanton's, rather
Than the most grave instructions of a father.
They reckon parents ought to do for them,
Though they the fifth commandment do contemn;
They snap and snarl if parents them control,
Though but in things most hurtful to the soul.
They reckon they are masters, and that we
Who parents are, should to them subject be!
If parents fain would have a hand in choosing,
The children have a heart will in refusing.
They'll by wrong doings, under parents gather,
And say it is no sin to rob a father.
They'll jostle parents out of place and power,
They'll make themselves the head, and them devour.
How many children, by becoming head,
Have brought their parents to a piece of bread!
Thus they who, at the first, were parents joy,
Turn that to bitterness, themselves destroy.
But, wretched child, how canst thou thus requite
Thy aged parents, for that great delight
They took in thee, when thou, as helpless, lay
In their indulgent bosoms day by day?
Thy mother, long before she brought thee forth,
Took care thou shouldst want neither food nor cloth.
Thy father glad was at his very heart,
Had he to thee a portion to impart.
Comfort they promised themselves in thee,
But thou, it seems, to them a grief wilt be.
How oft, how willingly brake they their sleep,
If thou, their bantling, didst but winch or weep.
Their love to thee was such they could have giv'n,
That thou mightst live, almost their part of heav'n.
But now, behold how they rewarded are!
For their indulgent love and tender care;
All is forgot, this love he doth despise.
They brought this bird up to pick out their eyes.

Of Child With Bird At The Bush

My little bird, how canst thou sit
And sing amidst so many thorns?
Let me a hold upon thee get,
My love with honour thee adorns.
Thou art at present little worth,
Five farthings none will give for thee,
But pr'ythee, little bird, come forth,
Thou of more value art to me.
'Tis true it is sunshine to-day,
To-morrow birds will have a storm;
My pretty one come thou away,
My bosom then shall keep thee warm.
Thou subject are to cold o'nights,
When darkness is thy covering;
At days thy danger's great by kites,
How can'st thou then sit there and sing?
Thy food is scarce and scanty too,
'Tis worms and trash which thou dost eat;
Thy present state I pity do,
Come, I'll provide thee better meat.
I'll feed thee with white bread and milk,
And sugar plums, if them thou crave.
I'll cover thee with finest silk,
That from the cold I may thee save.
My father's palace shall be thine,
Yea, in it thou shalt sit and sing;
My little bird, if thou'lt be mine,
The whole year round shall be thy spring.
I'll teach thee all the notes at court,
Unthought-of music thou shalt play;
And all that thither do resort,
Shall praise thee for it every day.
I'll keep thee safe from cat and cur,
No manner o' harm shall come to thee;
Yea, I will be thy succourer,
My bosom shall thy cabin be.
But lo, behold, the bird is gone;
These charmings would not make her yield;
The child's left at the bush alone,
The bird flies yonder o'er the field.


This child of Christ an emblem is,
The bird to sinners I compare,
The thorns are like those sins of his
Which do surround him everywhere.
Her songs, her food, and sunshine day,
Are emblems of those foolish toys,
Which to destruction lead the way,
The fruit of worldly, empty joys.
The arguments this child doth choose
To draw to him a bird thus wild,
Shows Christ familiar speech doth use
To make's to him be reconciled.
The bird in that she takes her wing,
To speed her from him after all,
Shows us vain man loves any thing
Much better than the heavenly call.

The title page will show, if there thou look,
Who are the proper subjects of this book.

They're boys and girls of all sorts and degrees,
From those of age to children on the knees.

Thus comprehensive am I in my notions,
They tempt me to it by their childish motions.

We now have boys with beards, and girls that be
Big[8]as old women, wanting gravity.

Then do not blame me, 'cause I thus describe them.
Flatter I may not, lest thereby I bribe them

To have a better judgment of themselves,
Than wise men have of babies on their shelves.[9]

Their antic tricks, fantastic modes, and way,
Show they, like very boys and girls, do play

With all the frantic fopperies of this age,
And that in open view, as on a stage;

Our bearded men do act like beardless boys;
Our women please themselves with childish toys.

Our ministers, long time, by word and pen,
Dealt with them, counting them not boys, but men.

Thunderbolts they shot at them and their toys,
But hit them not, 'cause they were girls and boys.

The better charg'd, the wider still they shot,
Or else so high, these dwarfs they touched not.

Instead of men, they found them girls and boys,
Addict to nothing as to childish toys.

Wherefore, good reader, that I save them may,
I now with them the very dotterel[10] play;

And since at gravity they make a tush,
My very beard I cast behind a bush;

And like a fool stand fing'ring of their toys,
And all to show them they are girls and boys.

Nor do I blush, although I think some may
Call me a baby, 'cause I with them play.

I do't to show them how each fingle-fangle
On which they doting are, their souls entangle,

As with a web, a trap, a gin, or snare;
And will destroy them, have they not a care.

Paul seemed to play the fool, that he might gain
Those that were fools indeed, if not in grain;[11]

And did it by their things, that they might know
Their emptiness, and might be brought unto

What would them save from sin and vanity,
A noble act, and full of honesty.

Yet he nor I would like them be in vice,
While by their playthings I would them entice,

To mount their thoughts from what are childish toys,
To heaven, for that's prepared for girls and boys.

Nor do I so confine myself to these,
As to shun graver things; I seek to please

Those more compos'd with better things than toys;
Though thus I would be catching girls and boys.

Wherefore, if men have now a mind to look,
Perhaps their graver fancies may be took

With what is here, though but in homely rhymes:
But he who pleases all must rise betimes.

Some, I persuade me, will be finding fault,
Concluding, here I trip, and there I halt:

No doubt some could those grovelling notions raise
By fine-spun terms, that challenge might the bays.

But should all men be forc'd to lay aside
Their brains that cannot regulate the tide

By this or that man's fancy, we should have
The wise unto the fool become a slave.

What though my text seems mean, my morals be
Grave, as if fetch'd from a sublimer tree.

And if some better handle[12] can a fly,
Than some a text, why should we then deny

Their making proof, or good experiment,
Of smallest things, great mischiefs to prevent?

Wise Solomon did fools to piss-ants[13] send,
To learn true wisdom, and their lies to mend.

Yea, God by swallows, cuckoos, and the ass,[14]
Shows they are fools who let that season pass,

Which he put in their hand, that to obtain
Which is both present and eternal gain.

I think the wiser sort my rhymes may slight,
But what care I, the foolish will delight

To read them, and the foolish God has chose,
And doth by foolish things their minds compose,

And settle upon that which is divine;
Great things, by little ones, are made to shine.

I could, were I so pleas'd, use higher strains:
And for applause on tenters[15] stretch my brains.

But what needs that? the arrow, out of sight,
Does not the sleeper, nor the watchman fright;

To shoot too high doth but make children gaze,
'Tis that which hits the man doth him amaze.

And for the inconsiderableness
Of things, by which I do my mind express,

May I by them bring some good thing to pass,
As Samson, with the jawbone of an ass;

Or as brave Shamgar, with his ox's goad
(Both being things not manly, nor for war in mode),

I have my end, though I myself expose
To scorn; God will have glory in the close.

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