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Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2000 / 10 Elul, 5760

Anne B. Adams and Nancy Nash-Cummings

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Consumer Reports

Poem to all parents -- DEAR ANNE AND NAN: I don't know if you can help me or not, but I sure hope you can. I don't have much information to go on, and I'm not really even sure if it's a poem, but it goes, "our children aren't really ours; God only loans them to us and can call them home any time." That's all I have. -- S.M. from Pa.

Dear S.M.: The poem you are looking for was written by Edgar Guest. It was first published in a 1938 collection of his poetry, titled "All In A Lifetime."

To All Parents

"I'll lend you for a little time
A child of mine," He said.
"For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he is dead.

It may be six or seven years,
Or 22 or three.
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you,
And shall his stay be brief.
You'll have his lovely memories
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.

I've searched the wide world over
In my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes
I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take him back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
'Dear L-rd, thy will be done.
For all the joy thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may.
And for the happiness we've known,
Will ever grateful stay.

But shall the angels call for him
Much sooner than we planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.'"

FEEDBACK: Laura Forbes of Lisle, Ill., wondered if anyone knows the words to a lullaby her mother sang to her over 50 years ago. She remembers only the first verse and the refrain: Rock-a-bye my little owlet/ In thy mossy, swaying nest/ With thy little woodland brothers/ Close thy eyes and go to rest. Refrain: To-whoo, to-whoo, to-whoo.

We were stumped, but thanks to many readers who sent in both music and verses, we now know the poem is "Indian Lullaby" by Henry W. Longfellow, set to music by Walter H. Aiken.

The second and third verses are as follows: Hush-a-bye my little owlet/Many voices sing to thee, "Hush-a-bye," the water whispers/ "Hush!" replies the tall pine tree. (Refrain) Sleep, O sleep, my little owlet/ Through our tent the moon shines bright/ Like a great eye it will watch thee/ Sleep till comes the morning light.

Write to "Ask Anne & Nan" at P.O. Box 240, Hartland, VT 05048.

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