On the Gift of a Book to a Child

Child! do not throw this book about!   
   Refrain from the unholy pleasure   
Of cutting all the pictures out!
   Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.

Child, have you never heard it said   
   That you are heir to all the ages?
Why, then, your hands were never made
   To tear these beautiful thick pages!

Your little hands were made to take
   The better things and leave the worse ones:   
They also may be used to shake
   The Massive Paws of Elder Persons.

And when your prayers complete the day,   
   Darling, your little tiny hands
Were also made, I think, to pray   
   For men that lose their fairylands.

More Poems by Hilaire Belloc