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Algernon Charles Swinburne

A Child's Laughter

All the bells of heaven may ring,

All the birds of heaven may sing,

All the wells on earth may spring,

All the winds on earth may bring

All sweet sounds together;

Sweeter far than all things heard,

Hand of harper, tone of bird,

Sound of woods at sundawn stirred,

Welling water's winsome word,

Wind in warm, wan weather.

One thing yet there is that none

Hearing, ere its chime be done

Knows not well the sweetest one

Heard of man beneath the sun,

Hoped in heaven hereafter;

Soft and strong and loud and light,

Very sound of very light,

Heard from morning's rosiest height,

When the soul of all delight

Fills a child's clear laughter.

Golden bells of welcome rolled

Never forth such note, nor told

Hours so blithe in tones so bold,

As the radiant month of gold

Here that rings forth heaven.

If the golden-crested wren

Were a nightingale—why, then

Something seen and heard of men

Might be half as sweet as when

Laughs a child of seven.