BIRTHDAY GIFTS FOR A CHILD POEM by Adelaide Anne Procter
Poetry from A Chaplet of Verses.
ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER – BIRTHDAY GIFTS FOR A CHILD POEM
WHY do you look sad, my Minnie?
Tell me darling—for to-day
Is the birthday of Our Lady,
And Her children should be gay.
What?—You say that all the others,
Alice, Cyril, Effie, Paul,
All had got a gift to give Her,
Only you had none at all.
Well dear, that does seem a pity:
Tell me how it came about
That the others bring a present,
And my Minnie comes without.
Alice has a lovely Banner
All embroidered blue and gold:
Then you know that Sister Alice
Is so clever and so old.
Cyril has his two camellias;
One deep red, and one pure white:
They will stand at Benediction
On the Altar steps to-night.
Effie, steady little Effie,
Stitching many an hour away,
She has clothed a little orphan
All in honour of to-day.
With the skill the good Nuns taught her
Angela herself has made
Two tall stems of such real lilies,
They do all but smell—and fade.
Then with look of grave importance
Comes our quiet little Paul
With the myrtle from his garden:
He himself is not as tall.
Even Baby Agnes, kneeling
With half shy, half solemn air,
Held up one sweet rose to Mary,
Lisping out her tiny prayer.
Well my Minnie—say—how was it?
Shall I guess? I think I know
All the griefs. Well, I will count them—
First your rose-tree would not blow;
Then the fines have been so many
All the pennies melt away;
Then for work—I know my Minnie
Cares so very much for play,
That these little clumsy fingers
Scarcely yet have learnt to sew,
Still less all the skilful fancies
Angela and Alice know.
Yet my Minnie can’t be treated
Quite as Baby was to-day,
When Mamma or Alice gave her
Something just to give away.
Well my darling, there are many
Who have neither time nor skill,
Gold nor silver, yet they offer
Gifts to Mary if they will.
There are ways—our Lady knows them,
And Her children all should know
How to find a flower for Mary
Underneath the deepest snow;
How to make a lovely garland,
Winter though it be and cold;
How to buy the rarest offering,
Costing—something—but not gold;
How to buy, and buy it dearly,
Gifts that She will love to take;
Nor to grudge the cost, but give it
Cheerfully for Mary’s sake.
Does that seem so strange, my Darling?
Nay dear, it is nothing new;
All can give Her noble presents—
Shall I tell you of a few?
What were those the Magi offered
Frankincense and gold and myrrh:—
Minnie thinks that Saints and Monarchs
Are quite different from her!
. . . Sometimes it is hard to listen
To a word unkind or cold
And to smile a loving answer:
Do it—and you give Her gold.
Thoughts of Her in work or playtime—
Those small grains of incense rare,
Cast upon a burning censer,
Rise in perfumed clouds of prayer.
There are sometimes bitter fancies,
Little murmurs that will stir
Even a loving heart:—but crush them
And you give Our Lady myrrh.
Give your little crosses to her,
Which each day, each hour befall,
They remind Her of Her Jesus,
So she loves them best of all.
Some seem very poor and worthless,
Yet however small and slight,
Given to her by one who loves her
They are precious in Her sight.
One may be so hard to carry
That your hands will bleed and smart:—
Go and take it to Her Altar,
Go and place it in Her heart;
Check your tears and try to love it,
Love it as His sacred will—
So you set the cross with jewels,
Make your gift more precious still.
There are souls—alas! too many
Who forget that Jesus died,
Who forget that sin for ever
Is the lance to pierce His side.
Hearts that turn away from Jesus;
Sins that scourge Him and betray;
Cold and cruel souls that even
Crucify Him day by day.
Ah! poor sinners! Mary loves them,
And she knows no royal gem
Half so noble or so precious
As the prayer you say for them;
Or resign some little pleasure,
Give it her instead, to win
Help for some poor soul in peril,
Grace for some poor heart in sin,
Mercy for poor sinners—pleading
For their souls as for your own—
So you make a crown of jewels
Fit to lay before Her throne.
Flowers—why I should never finish
If I tried to count them too—
If I told you how to know them,
In what garden-plot they grew.
Yet I think my darling guesses
They are emblems and we trace
In the rarest and the loveliest
Acts of love and gifts of grace.
Modest violets—meek snowdrops,
Holy lilies white and pure,
Faithful tendrils—herbs for healing—
If they only would endure!
And they will—such flowers fade not;
They are not of mortal birth—
And such garlands given to Mary
Die not like the gifts of Earth.
Well, my Minnie—can you tell me
You have still no gift to lay
At the feet of your dear Mother,
Any hour, any day?
Give Her now—to-day—for ever,
One great gift—the first, the best—
Give your heart to Her, and ask
Her How to give Her all the rest.