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Poem: On children - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Poem: On children

On children


He lisped in infant accents mild

And all the parish spinsters smiled;

In seeming innocence, beguiled

The elders who had oft reviled

The less well-mannered class of child.

Yet Pelion on Ossa piled

Could hardly measure quite how wild

The barbarism – although styled

‘High spirits’ – rose within the child.


His character seems limpid as a gill of Plymouth gin

Yet, taking proof of mankind, you will surely find within

The laughing careless infant, no small tendency to sin.


Of culture, Gemma had no gleam:

To civilise her was a dream

As insubstantial as the steam.

She gorged on scones and clotted cream,

Her tantrums were the most extreme

That ever made a nanny scream,

She left off plotting but to scheme –

And, had she compassed it, I deem,

Would fain have run a cruel regime.


There is a small barbarian in any human heart,

The taming of which Visigoth is maturation’s art:

And is what education, in the old days, would impart.


Now, generations run amok

And adulthood must trust to luck

That all that rises from the muck

And totters as each blow is struck

Will yet abide.  The world wants pluck

To smooth what yobbish hands will ruck,

So soon as they’ve been given suck,

Back to some semblance.  Thunderstruck,

The tapestry has come unstuck.


The civilising impetus was once a stern command

With whole battalions ready to step up and take a stand.

Now the bonds that late restrained us show as naught but woven sand.


So.  Shall we then surrender to the shambling horde of youths

Whose bovver-boots kick up the broken shards of toppled truths?

Well, abdication is the path that put us in this spot,

So, on the whole, I’m quite inclined, for my part, to say not.

We don’t do them any favours with this cotton-wool approach:

Simply teach them, give them challenge, and they’ll rise beyond reproach.

Old Adam in the garden made a cock-up of it all;

This fallen world’s for striving.  Let them rally to a call,

And the preacher’s old ‘Old Adam’ will rise up then, man anew,

When the discipline of challenge falls the troops in for review.




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