The Seven Ages of Childhood

Project Gutenberg is one of life’s loveliest pleasure, bringing us vintage lovers a daily glimpse into a world vanishing before our very eyes. Each day I peek at whats new and almost always find a little something to gladden my silly heart.

This morning it was the bestest kind of delight: a book illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith – The Seven Ages of Childhood with verses from Carolyn Wells. So here for your pleasure and mine are the seven ages illustrated and described…


First the Infant in Its Mother’s Arms


Then the Toddling Baby Boy
With shining morning face,
Creeping like a snail.


Then the Epicure,
With fine and greedy taste for porridge


Then the Lover,
sighing like a furnace.


Then the Scholar,
With eyes severe and hair of formal cut


The Sixth Shifts,
To lean and slender maidenhood,
With thoughtful eyes and quiet mien.


Last scene of all that ends
This strange eventful history—
Is First Love and mere enchantment—
Sans Mother, Sans Father, Sans Brother, Sans Everything

P.S: Did any other Mummy find this ever so slightly painful? I am starting to think I need to find a way to keep my Finn, giggling at ten years old forever. Sans Mother?? Not if I have my way Finnster!

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2 comments on “The Seven Ages of Childhood

  1. Note of Interest:
    The verses are cleverly adapted from “All the world’s a stage” passage in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

    “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages.
    At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurses arms.
    And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school”

  2. Shakespeare, truly a man for the ages. His jokes are still funny and his observations of life are still poignant.

    Motherhood is bittersweet, with the desire to see your child grow into the full flower of maturity struggling against the desire to hold them forever small and sweet and safe in your arms. *sigh*