Is there, when the winds are singing
In the happy summer-time,—
When the raptured air is ringing
With Earth’s music heavenward springing,
Forest chirp, and village chime,—
Is there, of the sounds that float
Unsighingly, a single note
Half so sweet and clear and wild
As the laughter of a child?
Listen! and be now delighted:
Morn hath touched her golden strings;
Earth and Sky their vows have plighted;
Life and Light are reunited
Amid countless carollings;
Yet, delicious as they are,
There ’s a sound that ’s sweeter far,—
One that makes the heart rejoice
More than all,—the human voice!
Organ finer, deeper, clearer,
Though it be a stranger’s tone,—
Than the winds or waters dearer,
More enchanting to the hearer,
For it answereth to his own.
But, of all its witching words,
Sweeter than the song of birds,
Those are sweetest, bubbling wild
Through the laughter of a child.
Harmonies from time-touched towers,
Haunted strains from rivulets,
Hum of bees among the flowers,
Rustling leaves, and silver showers,—
These, erelong, the ear forgets;
But in mine there is a sound
Ringing on the whole year round,—
Heart-deep laughter that I heard
Ere my child could speak a word.
Ah! ’t was heard by ear far purer,
Fondlier formed to catch the strain,—
Ear of one whose love is surer,—
Hers, the mother, the endurer
Of the deepest share of pain;
Hers the deepest bliss to treasure
Memories of that cry of pleasure,
Hers to hoard, a lifetime after,
Echoes of that infant laughter.
’T is a mother’s large affection
Hears with a mysterious sense,—
Breathings that evade detection,
Whisper faint, and fine inflection,
Thrill in her with power intense.
Childhood’s honeyed words untaught
Hiveth she in loving thought,—
Tones that never thence depart;
For she listens—with her heart.