A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields/Maxima Debetur Pueris Reverentia (Amédée Pommier)
MAXIMA DEBETUR PUERIS REVERENTIA.
Faith, loyalty, modesty, innocence,
Are like a precious essence in the heart:
Should the least shock the phial's crystal crack,
The perfume vanishes at once away.
Oh, let us leave the child his candour fresh!
This velvet bloom that spreads on prune and peach,
This soft down, this virginity of fruit
Which the least friction utterly destroys,
This vapour varnish on the gilded grape,
This light upon the picture, thrown from heaven,
This coloured dust upon the butterfly,
This thin and subtle veil that longs to leave,
This network delicate that a breath would melt,
A covering frail, so frail and tinted so
With interwoven shades that cross and blend,
One fears to touch it, even with the thought.