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CHILDREN AT PLAY

I hear a merry noise indeed:
Is it the geese and ducks that take
Their first plunge in a quiet pond
That into scores of ripples break—
Or children make this merry sound?

I see an oak tree, its strong back
Could not be bent an inch though all
Its leaves were stone, or iron even:
A boy, with many a lusty call,
Rides on a bough bareback through Heaven.

I see two children dig a hole
And plant in it a cherry-stone:
"We'll come to-morrow," one child said—
"And then the tree will be full grown,
And all its boughs have cherries red."

Ah, children, what a life to lead:
You love the flowers, but when they're past
No flowers are missed by your bright eyes;
And when cold winter comes at last,
Snowflakes shall be your butterflies.