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Selected Poetry of David Bates (1809-1870)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

He who checks a child with terror,
Stops its play, and stills its song,
Not alone commits an error,
But a great and moral wrong.
        (Childhood)
  1. Chiding
  2. Childhood
  3. Speak Gently


Notes on Life and Works

Born at Indian Hill, Ohio, March 6, 1809, David Bates was educated as a clerk in Buffalo and then in a mercantile house in Indianapolis, Indiana. Eventually he rose in the company to be a full member and its buyer, and he and his family settled in Philadelphia. He contributed as a man of letters to journals and published a volume of poetry, Eolian, in 1849. His son Stockton, who published his collected works after his father's death on January 25, 1870, wrote that "Two of his poems, `Speak Gently,' and `Childhood,' have attained a world-wide reputation; while the former of these, by translation into other languages, has become almost a universal hymn" (Poetical Works [Philadelphia, 1870]: vii). The former was made even more famous by Lewis Carroll's parody of it in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1866): 84-85 ... "Speak roughly to your little boy, / And beat him when he sneezes; / He only does it to annoy, / Because he knows it teases."

Biographical information

Given name: David
Family name: Bates
Birth date: 1809
Death date: 1870
Nationality: American