Ballads & Poems
Celia's Circle
The Shipyard
SeacoastNH Home

Sponsor Banner

Whittier's "Changeling" Version
About the Author
More Seacoast Ballads, Poems & Songs

By James Russell Lowell

    I had a little daughter,
    And she was given to me
    To lead me gently backward
    To the Heavenly Father's knee,
    That I, by the force of nature,
    Might in some dim wise divine
    The depth of his infinite patience
    To this wayward soul of mine.

    I know not how others saw her,
    But to me she was wholly fair,
    And the light of the heaven she came from
    Still lingered and gleamed in her hair;
    For it was as wavy and golden,
    And as many changes took,
    As the shadows of the sun-gilt ripples
    On the yellow bed of a brook.

    To what can I liken her smiling
    Upon me, her kneeling lover,
    How it leaped from her lips to her eyelids,
    And dimpled her wholly over,
    Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
    And I almost seemed to see
    The very heart of her mother
    Sending sun through her veins to me!

    She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,
    And it hardly seemed a day,
    When a troop of wandering angels
    Stole my little daughter away;
    Or perhaps those heavenly Zingari
    But loosed the hampering strings,
    And when they had opened her cage-door,
    My little bird used her wings.

    But they left in her stead a changeling,
    A little angel child,
    That seems like her bud in full blossom,
    And smiles as she never smiled:
    When I wake in the morning, I see it
    Where she always used to lie,
    And I feel as weak as a violet
    Alone 'neath the awful sky.

    As weak, yet as trustful also;
    For the whole year long I see
    All the wonders of faithful Nature
    Still worked for the love of me;
    Winds wander, and dews drip earthward,
    Rain falls, suns rise and set,
    Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
    A poor little violet.

    The child is not mine as the first was,
    I cannot sing it to rest,
    I cannot lift it up fatherly
    And bliss it upon my breast;
    Yet it lies in my little one's cradle
    And sits in my little one's chair,
    And the light of the heaven she's gone to
    Transfigures its golden hair.

Poem and Illustration Source:
The Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell, Riverside, 1879.

For more on Changelings read this essay by Professor D.L. Ashliman
(click BACK to return to

top of page

James Lowell

About James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

Lowell was another of the literary elite from Cambridge, Mass who came to visit Celia Thaxter at her summer salon on Appledore Island. A man of letters and Harvard professor, Lowell was known as a romantic poet, a humorist, critic, and editor of Atlantic Monthly and author of 50 abolitionist articles. Lowell retained a fascination in the occult and wrote an extensive essay on witchcraft in his 1871 collected essays "Among My Books."

Copyright © 1998-2000

top of page

[ New | Site Map | Talk | Store | History Themes | Poems Home ]

line rule


Site label
PO Box 7158
Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03802
Voice: 603-427-2020

line rule