by George J. Dance

David Bates
Born March 6, 1809
Indian Hill, Ohio
Died January 25, 1870 (aged 60)
Occupation buyer
Nationality American
Citizenship United States U.S.
Children Stockton
Poeticalworksofd00bate 0007

The Poetical Works of David Bates, 1870. Courtesy Archive.

David Bates (March 6, 1809 - January 25, 1870) was an American poet.[1] A successful merchant, he was sometimes referred to as the "Broker Poet".[2]


Bates was born at Indian Hill, Ohio. He began working as a clerk in Buffalo, New York. Later he went to work in a mercantile house in Indianapolis, Indiana, eventually becoming the buyer and a full member of the company, and settling in Philadelphia with his family.[1]

Bates became a man of letters and contributed to journals. In 1849 he published a volume of poetry, Eolian.[1]


His son Stockton, who published his father's collected works after his death, 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).[1]

"Speak Gently" gained even more fame after Lewis Carroll parodied it in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[1]

Stanza 3 of Bates's "Speak Gently" reads:

     Speak gently to the little child!
     Its love be sure to gain;
     Teach it in accents soft and mild: --
     It may not long remain.

While Carroll's begins:

     Speak roughly to your little boy,
     And beat him when he sneezes;
     He only does it to annoy,
     Because he knows it teases.


  • The Eolian. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1849. [3]
    • reprinted as Poems. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1853.[4]
  • Poetical Works (edited by Stockton Bates). Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen, & Haffelfinger, 1870.[5]

See alsoEdit

Childhood - David Bates poem reading Jordan Harling Reads

Childhood - David Bates poem reading Jordan Harling Reads


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Notes on Life and Works," Selected Poetry of David Bates (1809-1870), Representative Poetry Online,, Web, June 8, 2011.
  2. David Bates, Ebsco Host Connection. Web, Ebsco Publishing. Web, July 2, 2013.
  3. The Eolian (1849), Internet Archive, Web, Jan. 27, 2013.
  4. Poems (1853), Internet Archive, Web, Jan. 27, 2013.
  5. "Speak Gently," Representative Poetry Online, University of Toronto., Web, Jan. 27, 2013.

External linksEdit

Original Penny's Poetry Pages article, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0.
This is a signed article by User:George Dance. It may be edited for spelling errors or typos, but not for substantive content except by its author. If you have created a user name and verified your identity, provided you have set forth your credentials on your user page, you can add comments to the bottom of this article as peer review.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.