When the lessons and tasks are all ended, 

And the school for the day is dismissed, 

And the little ones gather around me, 

To bid me good-night and be kissed, 

Oh, the little white arms that encircle

My neck in a tender embrace! 

Oh, the smiles that are halos of Heaven, 

Shedding sunshine of love on my face!

And when they are gone I sit dreaming

Of my childhood too lovely to last; 

Of love that my heart will remember

When it wakes to the pulse of the past, 

Ere the world and its wickedness made me

A partner of sorrow and sin; 

When the glory of God was about me,

And the glory of gladness within.

I ask not a life for the dear ones,

All radiant, as others have done, 

But that life may have just enough shadow

To temper the glare of the sun. 

I would pray God to guard them from evil,

But my prayer would bound back to myself; 

Ah, a seraph may pray for a sinner,

But a sinner must pray for himself.

The twig is so easily bended,

I have banished the rule and the rod; 

I have taught them the goodness of knowledge,

They have taught me the goodness of God. 

My heart is a dungeon of darkness,

Where I shut them from breaking a rule; 

My frown is sufficient correction;

My love is the law of the school.

I shall leave the old house in the autumn,

To traverse its threshold no more; 

Ah, how shall I sigh for the dear ones

That meet me each morn at the door. 

I shall miss the "good nights" and the kisses,

And the gush of their innocent glee, 

The group on the green, and the flowers

That are brought every morning to me.

I shall miss them at morn and at evening,

Their song in the school and the street; 

I shall miss the low hum of their voices,

And the tramp of their delicate feet. 

When the lessons and tasks are all ended,

And Death says, "The school is dismissed!" 

May the little ones gather around me,

To bid me good-night and be kissed!