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    Little Elfie

    by George MacDonald
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    I have an elfish maiden child;
    She is not two years old;
    Through windy locks her eyes gleam wild,
    With glances shy and bold.

    Like little imps, her tiny hands
    Dart out and push and take;
    Chide her--a trembling thing she stands,
    And like two leaves they shake.

    But to her mind a minute gone
    Is like a year ago;
    So when you lift your eyes anon,
    They're at it, to and fro.

    Sometimes, though not oppressed with thought,
    She has her sleepless fits;
    Then to my room in blanket brought,
    In round-backed chair she sits;

    Where, if by chance in graver mood,
    A hermit she appears,
    Seated in cave of ancient wood,
    Grown very still with years.

    Then suddenly the pope she is,
    A playful one, I know;
    For up and down, now that, now this,
    Her feet like plash-mill go.

    Why like the pope? She's at it yet,
    Her knee-joints flail-like go:
    Unthinking man! it is to let
    Her mother kiss each toe.

    But if I turn away and write,
    Then sudden look around,
    I almost tremble; tall and white
    She stands upon the ground.

    In long night-gown, a tiny ghost,
    She stands unmoving there;
    Or if she moves, my wits were lost
    To meet her on the stair!

    O Elfie, make no haste to lose
    Thy lack of conscious sense;
    Thou hast the best gift I could choose,
    A God-like confidence.
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