Babette Deutsch





To an Amiable Child

 
On upper Riverside Drive, New York, 
there is an enclosure containing a child's 
grave. It is marked by a funerary urn, 
the base of which bears this inscription: 
''Erected to the Memory of an Amiable 
Child, St. Claire Pollock. Died 15 July 1797, 
in the Fifth Year of His Age."
 

Was it because you'd wear 
Your half-grown wisdom with a 
Debonair gaiety, and laughed less than you smiled? 
Or because you were tolerant 
Of rainy days, of games and company you did not want? 
I see you stilly radiant, 
And — like delicious food, delicious play — 
Loving music and motion and 
Pleasure you did not understand 
In voice or face or golden weather; 
But sometimes for whole hours together 
Hooding yourself in silence; 
And when you tired of being good, 
Driving them wild. 
Could you go with death, making no outcry 
If slow-footed, as though with nurse at bedtime? 
You lie alone here. 
Turfs and a quaint urn 
Cover the dust of your small body. 
The show 
Of your inimitable ways is over. 
Child, amiable centuries ago, 
At your city-huddled little grave 
You are remembered so: 
Haunting too merrily for a ghost, you are loved 
Now.