The Little Foot

By Hannah Flagg Gould

My boy, as gently on my breast,
From infant sport, thou sink’st to rest;
And on my hand I feel thee put,
In playful dreams, thy little foot,
The thrilling touch sets every string
Of my full heart to quivering;
For, ah! I think, what chart can show
The ways through which this foot may go?

Its print will be, in childhood’s hours,
Traced in the garden, round the flowers;
But youth will bid it leap the rills,
Bathe in the dew on distant hills,
Roam o’er the vales, and venture out
When riper years would pause and doubt,
Nor brave the pass, nor try the brink
Where youth’s unguarded foot may sink.

But what, when manhood tints thy cheek,
Will be the ways this foot will seek?
Is it to lightly pace the deck,
Helpless, to slip from off the wreck?
Or wander o’er a foreign shore,
Returning to thy home no more,
Until the bosom now thy pillow,
Is low and cold beneath the willow?

Or, is it for the battle-plain,
Beside the slayer and the slain?
Will there its final step be taken?
There, sleep thine eye no more to waken?
Is it to glory or to shame—
To sully, or to gild thy name?
Is it to happiness or wo
This little foot is made to go?

But wheresoe’er its lines may fall,
Whether in cottage or in hall;
O, may it ever shun the ground
Where’er his foot was never found,
Who, on his path of life, hath shed
A living light, that all may tread
Upon his earthly steps; and none
E’er dash the foot against a stone!

Yet, if thy way is marked by fate,
As, guilty, dark and desolate;
If thou must float, by vice and crime,
A wreck, upon the stream of time!
Oh! rather than behold that day,
I’d know this foot, in lightsome play,
Would bound, with guiltless, infant glee,
Upon the sod that sheltered me!

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