On the Gift of a Book to a Child
Child! do not throw this book about;
Refrain from the unholy pleasure
Of cutting all the pictures out!
Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.
Child, have you never heard it said
That you are heir to all the ages?
Why, then, your hands were never made
To tear these beautiful thick pages!
Your little hands were made to take
The better things and leave the worse ones.
They also may be used to shake
The Massive Paws of Elder Persons.
And when your prayers complete the day,
Darling, your little tiny hands
Were also made, I think, to pray
For men that lose their fairylands.
You may read this book in its entirety at Gutenberg.org.
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) was an orator, poet, satirist, man of letters, and political activist. He is most notable for his Catholic faith, which had a strong impact on most of his works, and for his writing collaboration with his friend, G. K. Chesterton. His most lasting legacy is probably his verse, which encompasses cautionary tales and religious poetry. (Read more at Wikipedia.)