Little Nell’s Funeral by Charles Dickens

And now the bell, — the bell
She had so often heard by night and day
  And listened to with solemn pleasure,
        E’en as a living voice, —
Rung its remorseless toll for her,
  So young, so beautiful, so good.

  Decrepit age, and vigorous life,
And blooming youth, and helpless infancy,
  Poured forth, — on crutches, in the pride of strength
        And health, in the full blush
        Of promise, the mere dawn of life, —
To gather round her tomb. Old men were there,
        Whose eyes were dim
        And senses failing, —
Grandames, who might have died ten years ago,
And still been old, — the deaf, the blind, the lame,
        The palsied,
The living dead in many shapes and forms,
To see the closing of this early grave.
  What was the death it would shut in,
To that which still could crawl and keep above it!

Along the crowded path they bore her now;
        Pure as the new fallen snow
That covered it; whose day on earth
        Had been as fleeting.
Under that porch, where she had sat when Heaven
In mercy brought her to that peaceful spot,
  She passed again, and the old church
  Received her in its quiet shade.

     They carried her to one old nook,
Where she had many and many a time sat musing,
  And laid their burden softly on the pavement.
           The light streamed on it through
The colored window, — a window where the boughs
        Of trees were ever rustling
     In the summer, and where the birds
           Sang sweetly all day long.

My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see,
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed!

When you are Old by W.B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore

‘T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below;
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid, on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys,—and St. Nicholas too.
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump—a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed, when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

I knew a Man by Sight by Henry David Thoreau

I knew a man by sight,
A blameless wight,
Who, for a year or more,
Had daily passed my door,
Yet converse none had had with him.

I met him in a lane,
Him and his cane,
About three miles from home,
Where I had chanced to roam,
And volumes stared at him, and he at me.

In a more distant place
I glimpsed his face,
And bowed instinctively;
Starting he bowed to me,
Bowed simultaneously, and passed along.

Next, in a foreign land
I grasped his hand,
And had a social chat,
About this thing and that,
As I had known him well a thousand years.

Late in a wilderness
I shared his mess,
For he had hardships seen,
And I a wanderer been;
He was my bosom friend, and I was his.

And as, methinks, shall all,
Both great and small,
That ever lived on earth,
Early or late their birth,
Stranger and foe, one day each other know.

Little Things by Julia A. F. Carney

Little drops of water
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.
Thus our little errors
Lead the soul away
From the path of virtue,
Off in sin to stray.
Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the heaven above.

Ode on Solitude by Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Sing a While Longer by Edwin Markham

Has the bright sun set,

   Has the gale grown stronger?

Still we’ll not grieve yet:

   We will sing a while longer!

Has our youth been met

   By Time the wronger?

Let us not grieve yet,

   Let us sing a while longer!

Is the world beset,

   Do the sorrows throng her?

Let us not grieve yet:

   Let us sing a while longer!

On Thinking Glad by John Kendrick Bangs

Never mind a change of scene
Try a change of thinking.
What if things seem sordid, mean,
What’s the use of blinking?

Life’s not always storm and cloud,
Somewhere stars are shining.
Try to think your joys out loud,
Silence all repining.

By degrees, by thinking light,
Thinking glad and sweetly,
You’ll escape the stress of night,
Worry gone completely.

Get the habit looking for
Sunbeams pirouetting,
Tapping gaily at your door
Surest cure for fretting.

Needn’t fool yourself at all,
For there’s no denying
E’en above a prison wall
Song-birds are aflying.

Wherefore hearken to the song,
Never mind the prison,
And you’ll find your soul ere long
Unto freedom risen.

Limericks by Edward Lear

There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a Bee;
When they said, “Does it buzz?” he replied,
“Yes, it does!
It’s a regular brute of a Bee.”
There was an Old Man on some rocks,
Who shut his Wife up in a box:
When she said, “Let me out,” he exclaimed,
“Without doubt
You will pass all your life in that box.”
There was an Old Man who said “How
Shall I flee from this horrible Cow?
I will sit on this stile, and continue to smile,
Which may soften the heart of that Cow.”
There was an Old Man who said, “Hush!
I perceive a young bird in this bush!”
When they said, “Is it small?” he replied, “Not at all;
It is four times as big as the bush!”
There was once an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!—
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren
Have all built their nests in my beard.”
There was an old person of Ware
Who rode on the back of a bear;
When they said, “Does it trot?”
He said, “Certainly not,
It’s a Moppsikon Floppsikon bear.”
There was a young lady in blue,
Who said, “Is it you? Is it you?”
When they said, “Yes, it is,” she replied only,
“Whizz!”
That ungracious young lady in blue.