Of Birthdays

For us Life's wheel runs backward. Other nests
          Are stripped of all their fledglings when our Fate 
          Pitying may be, a childhood  desolate,
Brings home deferred,—unparted each one rests 
          Beneath one roof.
                                           But the year's fitful span
          Brings change & growth & half displeased you say
          Musing upon the babes of yesterday: 
'Behold, she is a woman; He a man.'

Yet, spite of all, the childish wonder clings 
          About our spirits when we hear him say—
          Our Father—'Children I was born to-day.'
And we return to nursery wonderings
          Back comes the childish question to the tongue 
          Father a child!—Was Father ever young?