Frederick Locker-Lampson

My Firstborn

    “But thou that didst appear so fair
       To fond imagination,
    Dost rival in the light of day,
       Her delicate creation!”


It shall not be “Albert” nor “Arthur,”
   Though both are respectable men,
His name shall be that of his father,
   My Benjamin shorten’d to “Ben.”

Yes, much as I wish for a corner
   In each of my relative’s wills,
I will not be reckon’d a fawner—
   That creaking of boots must be Squills.

It is clear, though his means may be narrow,
   This infant his age will adorn;
I shall send him to Oxford from Harrow—
   I wonder how soon he’ll be born.

A spouse thus was airing his fancies
   Below—’twas a labour of love—
And calmly reflecting on Nancy’s
   More practical labour above.

Yet while it so pleas’d him to ponder,
   Elated, at ease, and alone,
That pale, patient victim up yonder
   Had budding delights of her own;

Sweet thoughts in their essence diviner
   Than dreams of ambition and pelf;
A cherub, no babe will be finer,
   Invented and nursed by herself!

One breakfasting, dining, and teaing,
   With appetite nought can appease,
And quite a young Reasoning Being
   When called on to yawn and to sneeze.

What cares that heart, trusting and tender,
   For fame or avuncular wills;
Except for the name and the gender,
   She is almost as tranquil as Squills.

That father, in reverie centr’d,
   Dumfoundered, his brain in a whirl,
Heard Squills—as the creaking boots enter’d,—
   Announce that his Boy was—a Girl.

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