Not “Only a Boy,” but “The Coming Man”


Only a boy, with his noise and fun,
The veriest mystery under the sun;
As brimful of mischief and wit and glee
As ever a human frame can be,
And as hard to manage as — ah! ah me!
‘Tis hard to tell,
Yet we love him well.

Only a boy, with his fearful tread,
Who cannot be driven, but must be led;
Who troubles the neighbors’ dogs and cats,
And tears more clothes and spoils more hats,
Loses more tops and kites and bats
Than would stock a store
For a year or more.

Only a boy, with his wild, strong ways,
With his idle hours on busy days;
With his queer remarks and his odd replies,
Sometimes foolish and sometimes wise,
Often brilliant for one of his size,
As a meteor hurl’d
From the pleasant world.

Only a boy, who will be a man
If Nature goes on with her first great plan,
If water, or fire, or some fatal snare
Conspires not to rob us of this our heir,
Our blessing, our trouble, our rest, our care,
Our torment, our joy,
“Only a boy.”

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Nov 5, 1877


A pair of very chubby legs,
Encased in scarlet hose;
A pair of little stubby boots,
With rather doubtful toes;
A little kilt, a little coat,
Cut as a mother can —
And lo! before us strides in state,
The Future’s “coming man.”

His eyes, perchance, will read the stars,
And search their unknown ways;
Perchance the human heart and soul
Will open to their gaze;
Perchance their keen and dashing glance
Will be a nation’s light —
Those eyes that now are wistful bent
On some “big fellow’s” kite.

That brow where mighty thoughts will dwell
In solemn secret state;
Where fierce Ambition’s restless strength
Shall war with future fate;
Where Science from now hidden caves
New treasures shall outpour —
‘Tis knit now, with a troubled doubt,
Are two, or three, cents more?

Those lips that, in the coming years,
Will plead, or pray, or teach,
Whose whispered words on lightning flash,
From world to world may reach;
That sternly grave may speak command,
Or, smiling, win control —
Are coaxing now for gingerbread
With all a baby’s soul!

Those hands — those little busy hands —
So sticky, small and brown;
Those hands, whose only mission seems
To tear all order down —
Who knows what hidden strength may lie
Within their future grasp,
Though now ’tis but a taffy-stick
In sturdy hold they clasp?

Ah, blessings on those little hands,
Whose work is yet undone,
And blessing on those little feet,
Whose race is yet unrun!
And blessings on the little brain
That has not learned to plan!
Whate’er the Future hold in store,
God bless the “coming man!”

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Nov 8, 1877

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