A Century of Roundels/Not a Child

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A Century of Roundels by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Not a Child

NOT A CHILD.


I.

'Not a child: I call myself a boy,'
Says my king, with accent stern yet mild,
Now nine years have brought him change of joy;
 'Not a child.'


How could reason be so far beguiled,
Err so far from sense's safe employ,
Stray so wide of truth, or run so wild?


Seeing his face bent over book or toy,
Child I called him, smiling: but he smiled
Back, as one too high for vain annoy—
 Not a child.


II.

Not a child? alack the year!
What should ail an undefiled
Heart, that he would fain appear
 Not a child?


Men, with years and memories piled
Each on other, far and near,
Fain again would so be styled:


Fain would cast off hope and fear,
Rest, forget, be reconciled:
Why would you so fain be, dear,
 Not a child?


III.

Child or boy, my darling, which you will,
Still your praise finds heart and song employ,
Heart and song both yearning toward you still,
 Child or boy.


All joys else might sooner pall or cloy
Love than this which inly takes its fill,
Dear, of sight of your more perfect joy.


Nay, be aught you please, let all fulfil
All your pleasure; be your world your toy:
Mild or wild we love you, loud or still,
 Child or boy.