"Something Between A Hindrance And A Help"
Context: The poem "Michael" is the narrative of a shepherd whose only child, a son, arrived late in the father's life. The poem tells of the father's patience with the tiny infant and the shepherd's continued interest and time spent with the boy. And when the boy reached five years of age, Michael made his son a shepherd's staff from a sapling so that the boy could be with him more and begin to help him. Since the boy was so young for shepherding or since "to his office prematurely called," he was "something between a hindrance and a help" to his father.
And when by Heaven's good grace the boy grew upA healthy Lad, and carried in his cheekTwo steady roses that were five years old;Then Michael from a winter coppice cutWith his own hand a sapling, which he hoopedWith iron, making it throughout in allDue requisites a perfect shepherd's staff,And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equippedHe as a watchman oftentimes was placedAt gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock;And, to his office prematurely called,There stood the urchin, as you will divine,Something between a hindrance and a help;And for this cause not always, I believe,Receiving from his Father hire of praise;Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice,Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform.