Friday, 15 June 2018

The Children’s Church - Karl von Gerock

The bells of the churches are ringing,—
  Papa and mamma have both gone,—
And three little children sit singing
  Together this still Sunday morn.

While the bells toll away in the steeple,
  Though too small to sit still in a pew,
These busy religious small people
  Determine to have their church too.

So, as free as the birds, or the breezes
  By which their fair ringlets are fanned,
Each rogue sings away as he pleases,
  With book upside down in his hand.

Their hymn has no sense in its letter,
  Their music no rhythm nor tune:
Our worship, perhaps, may be better,
  But theirs reaches God quite as soon.

Their angels stand close to the Father;
  His heaven is bright with these flowers;
And the dear God above us would rather
  Hear praise from their lips than from ours.

Sing on, little children,—your voices
  Fill the air with contentment and love;
All Nature around you rejoices,
  And the birds warble sweetly above.

Sing on,—for the proudest orations,
  The liturgies sacred and long,
The anthems and worship of nations,
  Are poor to your innocent song.

Sing on,—our devotion is colder,
  Though wisely our prayers may be planned,
For often we, too, who are older,
  Hold our book the wrong way in our hand.

Sing on,—our harmonic inventions
  We study with labor and pain;
Yet often our angry contentions
  Take the harmony out of our strain.

Sing on,—all our struggle and battle,
  Our cry when most deep and sincere,—
What are they? A child’s simple prattle,
  A breath in the Infinite ear.

Karl von Gerock (1815–1890) Germany
Translated by James Freeman Clarke
Source: The World’s Best Poetry, ed. by Bliss Carman, et al. Philadelphia: John D. Morris & Co., 1904

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