“My little Son, who looked from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobeyed,
I struck him and dismissed
With hard words and unkissed,
His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep
I visited his bed,
But found him slumbering deep,
With darkened eyelids, and their lashes yet
From their late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
For on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-veined stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach
And six or seven shells, A bottle with bluebells
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I prayed To God, I wept and said;
Ah, when at last we lie with tranced breath
Not vexing thee in death,
And thou rememberest of what toys
We made our joys,
How weakly understood,
Thy great commanded good,
Then, Fatherly not less
Than I whom thou hast moulded from the clay,
Thou’lt leave thy wrath, and say
‘I will be sorry for their childishness’.”

One might be tempted to dismiss Coventry Patmore’s poem as a piece of Victorian sentimentality if one did not know that it was founded on fact.

His wife Emily died 15 years after they were married, leaving him to bring up three sons and three daughters. What is remarkable about it, written as it was in the mid-19th century, is its tenderness. For this was when the maxims of Proverbs were applied with rigour. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (22:15). “Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (23:15). “Let not thy soul spare for his crying”. (19:18).

How different the attitude of Jesus was………..