REQUIRED POEMS FOR READING AND MEMORIZING
THIRD AND FOURTH GRADES Prescribed by State Courses of Study
Practically every state course of study gives a list of poems from which it is required that selection be made for reading or memorizing. These lists and their grading vary in the different states, although the same poems are used in many of them and there are some which are required in every state.
In the preparation of this book the lists of the third and fourth grade poems prescribed by the syllabi of twelve states have been examined and the contents have been made up from these. The breadth of this method of selection insures the inclusion in this volume of a large proportion of the required poems for every state. Since the grading in different states varies so widely, teachers will find included, also, many poems which in their own particular states are required in other grades. It is hoped that this volume will be of real service to teachers in providing a collection of "required poems" in a form convenient for school use.
Required Poems for Third and Fourth Grades
POEMS BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
In the other gardens And all up the vale, From the autumn bonfires See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over And all the summer flowers; The red fire blazes, The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons! Something bright in all! Flowers in the summer, Fires in the fall!
THE UNSEEN PLAYMATE
When children are playing alone on the green, In comes the playmate that never was seen. When children are happy and lonely and good, The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.
Nobody heard him and nobody saw, His is a picture you never could draw, But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home, When children are happy and playing alone.
He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass, He sings when you tinkle the musical glass; Whene'er you are happy and cannot tell why, The Friend of the Children is sure to be by!
He loves to be little, he hates to be big, 'Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig; 'Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win.
'Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed, Bids you go to your sleep and not trouble your head; For wherever they're lying, in cupboard or shelf, 'Tis he will take care of your playthings himself!
THE LAND OF STORY-BOOKS
At evening when the lamp is lit, Around the fire my parents sit. They sit at home, and talk and sing, And do not play at anything.
Now, with my little gun, I crawl All in the dark along the wall, And follow round the forest track Away behind the sofa back.
There in the night, where none can spy, All in my hunter's camp I lie, And play at books that I have read, Till it is time to go to bed.
These are the hills, these are the woods, These are my starry solitudes, And there the river by whose brink The roaring lions come to drink.
I see the others far away, As if in firelit camp they lay, And I, like to an Indian scout, Around their party prowled about.
So, when my nurse comes in for me, Home I return across the sea, And go to bed with backward looks At my dear Land of Story-books.
I saw you toss the kites on high And blow the birds about the sky; And all around I heard you pass, Like ladies' skirts across the grass— O wind, a-blowing all day long, O wind, that sings so loud a song!
I saw the different things you did, But always you yourself you hid. I felt you push, I heard you call, I could not see yourself at all— O wind, a-blowing all day long, O wind, that sings so loud a song!
O you that are so strong and cold, O blower, are you young or old? Are you a beast of field and tree, Or just a stronger child than me? O wind, a-blowing all day long, O wind, that sings so loud a song!
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed, A frosty, fiery sleepy-head; Blinks but an hour or two; and then, A blood-red orange, sets again.
Before the stars have left the skies, At morning in the dark I rise; And shivering in my nakedness, By the cold candle, bathe and dress.
Close by the jolly fire I sit To warm my frozen bones a bit; Or, with a reindeer-sled, explore The colder countries round the door.
When to go out, my nurse doth wrap Me in my comforter and cap; The cold wind burns my face, and blows Its frosty pepper up my nose.
Black are my steps on silver sod; Thick blows my frosty breath abroad; And tree and house, and hill and lake, Are frosted like a wedding-cake.
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing, Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea. Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring, And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.
Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat, Wary of the weather and steering by a star? Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat, To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?
Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea— Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar! Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be, The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.
* * * * *
POEMS BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay, An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away, An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep, An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board an' keep; An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done, We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about, An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,— An' when he went to bed at night, away upstairs, His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl, An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all! An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press, An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever' wheres, I guess; But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:— An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin, An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin; An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there, She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care! An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide, They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side, An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about! An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue, An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo! An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray, An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,— You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear, An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear, An' help the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about, Er the Gobble-uns'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
Little brook! Little brook! You have such a happy look— Such a very merry manner, as you swerve and curve and crook— And your ripples, one and one, Reach each other's hands and run Like laughing little children in the sun!
Little brook, sing to me: Sing about a bumblebee That tumbled from a lily-bell and grumbled mumblingly, Because he wet the film Of his wings, and had to swim, While the water-bugs raced round and laughed at him!
Little brook—sing a song Of a leaf that sailed along Down the golden-braided center of your current swift and strong, And a dragon-fly that lit On the tilting rim of it, And rode away and wasn't scared a bit.
And sing—how oft in glee Came a truant boy like me, Who loved to lean and listen to your lilting melody, Till the gurgle and refrain Of your music in his brain Wrought a happiness as keen to him as pain.
Little brook—laugh and leap! Do not let the dreamer weep; Sing him all the songs of summer till he sink in softest sleep; And then sing soft and low Through his dreams of long ago— Sing back to him the rest he used to know!
A LIFE LESSON
There! little girl! don't cry! They have broken your doll, I know; And your tea-set blue, And your play-house, too, Are things of long ago; But childish troubles will soon pass by, There! little girl! don't cry!
There! little girl! don't cry! They have broken your slate, I know; And the glad wild ways Of your school-girl days Are things of the long ago; But life and love will soon come by, There! little girl! don't cry!
There! little girl! don't cry! They have broken your heart, I know; And the rainbow gleams Of your youthful dreams Are things of the long ago; But heaven holds all for which you sigh, There! little girl! don't cry!
* * * * *
POEMS BY EDWARD LEAR
THE QUANGLE WANGLE'S HAT
On the top of the Crumpetty Tree The Quangle Wangle sat, But his face you could not see, On account of his Beaver Hat. For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide, With ribbons and bibbons on every side, And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace, So that nobody ever could see the face Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.
The Quangle Wangle said To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, "Jam, and jelly, and bread Are the best of food for me! But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree The plainer than ever it seems to me That very few people come this way And that life on the whole is far from gay!" Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.
But there came to the Crumpetty Tree Mr. and Mrs. Canary; And they said, "Did ever you see Any spot so charmingly airy? May we build a nest on your lovely Hat? Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that! Oh, please let us come and build a nest Of whatever material suits you best, Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!"
And besides, to the Crumpetty Tree Came the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl; The Snail and the Bumblebee, The Frog and the Fimble Fowl (The Fimble Fowl, with a corkscrew leg); And all of them said, "We humbly beg We may build our homes on your lovely Hat,— Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that! Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!"
And the Golden Grouse came there, And the Pobble who has no toes, And the small Olympian bear, And the Dong with a luminous nose. And the Blue Baboon who played the flute, And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute, And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat,— All came and built on the lovely Hat Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.
And the Quangle Wangle said To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, "When all these creatures move What a wonderful noise there'll be!" And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon, On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree, And all were as happy as happy could be, With the Quangle Wangle Quee.
THE POBBLE WHO HAS NO TOES
The Pobble who has no toes Had once as many as we; When they said, "Some day you may lose them all," He replied, "Fish fiddle de-dee!" And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink Lavender water tinged with pink; For she said, "The World in general knows There's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!"
The Pobble who has no toes Swam across the Bristol Channel; But before he set out he wrapped his nose In a piece of scarlet flannel. For his Aunt Jobiska said, "No harm Can come to his toes if his nose is warm; And it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes Are safe—provided he minds his nose."
The Pobble swam fast and well, And when boats or ships came near him, He tinkledy-binkledy-winkled a bell So that all the world could hear him. And all the Sailors and Admirals cried, When they saw him nearing the farther side, "He has gone to fish for his Aunt Jobiska's Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!"
But before he touched the shore— The shore of the Bristol Channel, A sea-green Porpoise carried away His wrapper of scarlet flannel. And when he came to observe his feet, Formerly garnished with toes so neat, His face at once became forlorn On perceiving that all his toes were gone!
And nobody ever knew, From that dark day to the present, Whoso had taken the Pobble's toes, In a manner so far from pleasant. Whether the shrimps or crawfish gray, Or crafty mermaids stole them away, Nobody knew; and nobody knows How the Pobble was robbed of his twice five toes!
The Pobble who has no toes Was placed in a friendly Bark, And they rowed him back and carried him up To his Aunt Jobiska's Park. And she made him a feast at his earnest wish, Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish; And she said, "It's a fact the whole world knows, That Pobbles are happier without their toes."
They went to sea in a sieve, they did; In a sieve they went to sea: In spite of all their friends could say, On a winter's morn, on a stormy day, In a sieve they went to sea. And when the sieve turned round and round, And every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!" They called aloud, "Our sieve ain't big; But we don't care a button, we don't care a fig: In a sieve we'll go to sea!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.
They sailed away in a sieve, they did, In a sieve they sailed so fast, With only a beautiful pea-green veil Tied with a ribbon by way of a sail, To a small tobacco-pipe mast. And every one said who saw them go, "Oh! won't they soon be upset, you know? For the sky is dark and the voyage is long, And happen what may, it's extremely wrong In a sieve to sail so fast." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.
The water it soon came in, it did; The water it soon came in; So, to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet In a pinky paper all folded neat; And they fastened it down with a pin. And they passed the night in a crockery-jar; And each of them said, "How wise we are! Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long, Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong, While round in our sieve we spin." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.
And all night long they sailed away; And when the sun went down, They whistled and warbled a moony song To the echoing sound of a coppery gong, In the shade of the mountains brown. "O Timballoo! How happy we are When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar! And all night long, in the moonlight pale, We sail away with a pea-green sail In the shade of the mountains brown." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,— To a land all covered with trees: And they bought an owl and a useful cart, And a pound of rice, and a cranberry-tart, And a hive of silvery bees; And they bought a pig, and some green jackdaws, And a lovely monkey with lollipop paws, And forty bottles of ring-bo-ree, And no end of Stilton cheese. Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.
And in twenty years they all came back,— In twenty years or more; And every one said, "How tall they've grown! For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone, And the hills of the Chankly Bore." And they drank their health, and gave them a feast Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast; And every one said, "If we only live, We, too, will go to sea in a sieve, To the hills of the Chankly Bore." Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green and their hands are blue; And they went to sea in a sieve.
* * * * *
POEMS BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW
THE EMPEROR'S BIRD'S-NEST
Once the Emperor Charles of Spain, With his swarthy, grave commanders, I forget in what campaign, Long besieged, in mud and rain, Some old frontier town of Flanders.
Up and down the dreary camp, In great boots of Spanish leather, Striding with a measured tramp, These Hidalgos, dull and damp, Cursed the Frenchmen, cursed the weather.
Thus as to and fro they went, Over upland and through hollow, Giving their impatience vent, Perched upon the Emperor's tent, In her nest, they spied a swallow.
Yes, it was a swallow's nest, Built of clay and hair of horses, Mane, or tail, or dragoon's crest, Found on hedge-rows east and west, After skirmish of the forces.
Then an old Hidalgo said, As he twirled his gray mustachio, "Sure this swallow overhead Thinks the Emperor's tent a shed, And the Emperor but a Macho!"
Hearing his imperial name Coupled with those words of malice, Half in anger, half in shame, Forth the great campaigner came Slowly from his canvas palace.
"Let no hand the bird molest," Said he solemnly, "nor hurt her!" Adding then, by way of jest, "Golondrina is my guest, 'Tis the wife of some deserter!"
Swift as bowstring speeds a shaft, Through the camp was spread the rumor, And the soldiers, as they quaffed Flemish beer at dinner, laughed At the Emperor's pleasant humor.
So unharmed and unafraid Sat the swallow still and brooded, Till the constant cannonade Through the walls a breach had made And the siege was thus concluded.
Then the army, elsewhere bent, Struck its tents as if disbanding, Only not the Emperor's tent, For he ordered, ere he went, Very curtly, "Leave it standing!"
So it stood there all alone, Loosely flapping, torn and tattered, Till the brood was fledged and flown, Singing o'er those walls of stone Which the cannon-shot had shattered.
THE RAINY DAY
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; The vine still clings to the mouldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary!
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.
AN APRIL DAY
When the warm sun, that brings Seed-time and harvest, has returned again, 'Tis sweet to visit the still wood, where springs The first flower of the plain.
I love the season well, When forest glades are teeming with bright forms, Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell The coming-on of storms.
From the earth's loosened mould The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives; Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold, The drooping tree revives.
The softly-warbled song Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along The forest openings.
When the bright sunset fills The silver woods with light, the green slope throws Its shadows in the hollows of the hills, And wide the upland glows.
And when the eve is born, In the blue lake the sky, o'er-reaching far, Is hollowed out, and the moon dips her horn, And twinkles many a star.
Inverted in the tide, Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw, And the fair trees look over, side by side, And see themselves below.
Sweet April!—many a thought Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed; Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought, Life's golden fruit is shed.
RAIN IN SUMMER
How beautiful is the rain! After the dust and heat, In the broad and fiery street, In the narrow lane, How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs, Like the tramp of hoofs! How it gushes and struggles out From the throat of the overflowing spout!
Across the window pane It pours and pours; And swift and wide, With a muddy tide, Like a river down the gutter roars The rain, the welcome rain! * * * * In the country, on every side, Where far and wide, Like a leopard's tawny and spotted hide, Stretches the plain, To the dry grass and the drier grain How welcome is the rain! * * * *
A wind came up out of the sea, And said, "O mists, make room for me."
It hailed the ships, and cried, "Sail on, Ye mariners, the night is gone."
And hurried landward far away, Crying, "Awake! it is the day."
It said unto the forest, "Shout! Hang all your leafy banners out!"
It touched the wood-bird's folded wing, And said, "O bird, awake and sing."
And o'er the farms, "O Chanticleer, Your clarion blow; the day is near."
It whispered to the fields of corn, "Bow down, and hail the coming morn."
It shouted through the belfry tower, "Awake, O bell! proclaim the hour."
It crossed the churchyard with a sigh, And said, "Not yet! in quiet lie."
AFTERNOON IN FEBRUARY
The day is ending, The night is descending; The marsh is frozen, The river dead.
Through clouds like ashes The red sun flashes On village windows That glimmer red.
The snow recommences; The buried fences Mark no longer The road o'er the plain;
While through the meadows, Like fearful shadows, Slowly passes A funeral train.
The bell is pealing, And every feeling Within me responds To the dismal knell;
Shadows are trailing, My heart is bewailing And tolling within Like a funeral bell.
Forth upon the Gitche Gumee, On the shining Big-Sea-Water, With his fishing-line of cedar, Of the twisted bark of cedar, Forth to catch the sturgeon Nahma, Mishe-Nahma, King of Fishes, In his birch canoe exulting All alone went Hiawatha.
Through the clear, transparent water He could see the fishes swimming Far down in the depths below him; See the yellow perch, the Sahwa,
Like a sunbeam in the water, See the Shawgashee, the craw-fish, Like a spider on the bottom, On the white and sandy bottom.
At the stern sat Hiawatha, With his fishing-line of cedar; In his plumes the breeze of morning Played as in the hemlock branches; On the bows, with tail erected, Sat the squirrel, Adjidaumo; In his fur the breeze of morning Played as in the prairie grasses.
On the white sand of the bottom Lay the monster Mishe-Nahma, Lay the sturgeon, King of Fishes; Through his gills he breathed the water, With his fins he fanned and winnowed, With his tail he swept the sand-floor.
There he lay in all his armor; On each side a shield to guard him, Plates of bone upon his forehead, Down his sides and back and shoulders Plates of bone with spines projecting! Painted was he with his war-paints, Stripes of yellow, red, and azure, Spots of brown and spots of sable; And he lay there on the bottom, Fanning with his fins of purple, As above him Hiawatha In his birch canoe came sailing, With his fishing-line of cedar.
"Take my bait!" cried Hiawatha, Down into the depths beneath him, "Take my bait, O sturgeon, Nahma! Come up from below the water, Let us see which is the stronger!" And he dropped his line of cedar Through the clear, transparent water, Waited vainly for an answer, Long sat waiting for an answer, And repeating loud and louder, "Take my bait, O King of Fishes!"
Quiet lay the sturgeon, Nahma, Fanning slowly in the water, Looking up at Hiawatha, Listening to his call and clamor, His unnecessary tumult, Till he wearied of the shouting; And he said to the Kenozha, To the pike, the Maskenozha, "Take the bait of this rude fellow, Break the line of Hiawatha!"
In his fingers Hiawatha Felt the loose line jerk and tighten; As he drew it in, it tugged so That the birch canoe stood endwise, Like a birch log in the water, With the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Perched and frisking on the summit.
Full of scorn was Hiawatha When he saw the fish rise upward, Saw the pike, the Maskenozha, Coming nearer, nearer to him, And he shouted through the water, "Esa! esa! shame upon you! You are but the pike, Kenozha, You are not the fish I wanted, You are not the King of Fishes!"
Reeling downward to the bottom Sank the pike in great confusion, And the mighty sturgeon, Nahma, Said to Ugudwash, the sun-fish, To the bream, with scales of crimson, "Take the bait of this great boaster, Break the line of Hiawatha!"
Slowly upward, wavering, gleaming, Rose the Ugudwash, the sun-fish, Seized the line of Hiawatha, Swung with all his weight upon it, Made a whirlpool in the water, Whirled the birch canoe in circles, Round and round in gurgling eddies, Till the circles in the water Reached the far-off sandy beaches, Till the water-flags and rushes Nodded on the distant margins.
But when Hiawatha saw him Slowly rising through the water, Lifting up his disk refulgent, Loud he shouted in derision, "Esa! esa! shame upon you! You are Ugudwash, the sun-fish, You are not the fish I wanted, You are not the King of Fishes!"
Slowly downward, wavering, gleaming, Sank the Ugudwash, the sun-fish, And again the sturgeon, Nahma, Heard the shout of Hiawatha, Heard his challenge of defiance, The unnecessary tumult, Ringing far across the water.
From the white sand of the bottom Up he rose with angry gesture, Quivering in each nerve and fibre, Clashing all his plates of armor, Gleaming bright with all his war-paint; In his wrath he darted upward, Flashing leaped into the sunshine, Opened his great jaws, and swallowed Both canoe and Hiawatha.
Down into that darksome cavern Plunged the headlong Hiawatha, As a log on some black river, Shoots and plunges down the rapids, Found himself in utter darkness, Groped about in helpless wonder, Till he felt a great heart beating, Throbbing in that utter darkness.
And he smote it in his anger, With his fist, the heart of Nahma, Felt the mighty King of Fishes Shudder through each nerve and fibre, Heard the water gurgle round him As he leaped and staggered through it, Sick at heart, and faint and weary.
Crosswise then did Hiawatha Drag his birch-canoe for safety, Lest from out the jaws of Nahma, In the turmoil and confusion, Forth he might be hurled and perish. And the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Frisked and chattered very gayly, Toiled and tugged with Hiawatha Till the labor was completed.
Then said Hiawatha to him, "O my little friend, the squirrel, Bravely have you toiled to help me; Take the thanks of Hiawatha, And the name which now he gives you; For hereafter and forever Boys shall call you Adjidaumo, Tail-in-air the boys shall call you!"
And again the sturgeon, Nahma, Gasped and quivered in the water, Then was still, and drifted landward Till he grated on the pebbles, Till the listening Hiawatha Heard him grate upon the margin, Felt him strand upon the pebbles, Knew that Nahma, King of Fishes, Lay there dead upon the margin.
Then he heard a clang and flapping, As of many wings assembling, Heard a screaming and confusion, As of birds of prey contending, Saw a gleam of light above him, Shining through the ribs of Nahma, Saw the glittering eyes of sea-gulls, Of Kayoshk, the sea-gulls, peering, Gazing at him through the opening, Heard them saying to each other, "'Tis our brother, Hiawatha!"
And he shouted from below them, Cried exulting from the caverns: "O ye sea-gulls! O my brothers! I have slain the sturgeon, Nahma; Make the rifts a little larger, With your claws the openings widen, Set me free from this dark prison, And henceforward and forever Men shall speak of your achievements, Calling you Kayoshk, the sea-gulls, Yes, Kayoshk, the Noble Scratchers!"
And the wild and clamorous sea-gulls Toiled with beak and claws together, Made the rifts and openings wider In the mighty ribs of Nahma, And from peril and from prison, From the body of the sturgeon, From the peril of the water, They released my Hiawatha.
He was standing near his wigwam, On the margin of the water, And he called to old Nokomis, Called and beckoned to Nokomis, Pointed to the sturgeon, Nahma, Lying lifeless on the pebbles, With the sea-gulls feeding on him.
"I have slain the Mishe-Nahma, Slain the King of Fishes!" said he; "Look! the sea-gulls feed upon him, Yes, my friends Kayoshk, the sea-gulls; Drive them not away, Nokomis, They have saved me from great peril In the body of the sturgeon, Wait until their meal is ended, Till their craws are full with feasting, Till they homeward fly, at sunset, To their nests among the marshes; Then bring all your pots and kettles, And make oil for us in Winter."
And she waited till the sun set, Till the pallid moon, the Night-sun, Rose above the tranquil water, Till Kayoshk, the sated sea-gulls, From their banquet rose with clamor, And across the fiery sunset Winged their way to far-off islands, To their nests among the rushes.
To his sleep went Hiawatha, And Nokomis to her labor, Toiling patient in the moonlight, Till the sun and moon changed places, Till the sky was red with sunrise, And Kayoshk, the hungry sea-gulls, Came back from the reedy islands, Clamorous for their morning banquet.
Three whole days and nights alternate Old Nokomis and the seagulls Stripped the oily flesh of Nahma, Till the waves washed through the rib-bones, Till the sea-gulls came no longer, And upon the sands lay nothing But the skeleton of Nahma.
Two good friends had Hiawatha, Singled out from all the others, Bound to him in closest union, And to whom he gave the right hand Of his heart, in joy and sorrow; Chibiabos, the musician, And the very strong man, Kwasind.
Straight between them ran the pathway, Never grew the grass upon it; Singing birds, that utter falsehoods, Story-tellers, mischief-makers, Found no eager ear to listen, Could not breed ill-will between them, For they kept each other's counsel, Spake with naked hearts together, Pondering much and much contriving How the tribes of men might prosper.
Most beloved by Hiawatha Was the gentle Chibiabos, He the best of all musicians, He the sweetest of all singers. Beautiful and childlike was he, Brave as man is, soft as woman, Pliant as a wand of willow, Stately as a deer with antlers.
When he sang, the village listened; All the warriors gathered round him, All the women came to hear him; Now he stirred their souls to passion, Now he melted them to pity.
From the hollow reeds he fashioned Flutes so musical and mellow, That the brook, the Sebowisha, Ceased to murmur in the woodland, That the wood-birds ceased from singing, And the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree, And the rabbit, the Wabasso, Sat upright to look and listen,
Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha, Pausing, said, "O Chibiabos, Teach my waves to flow in music, Softly as your words in singing!"
Yes, the bluebird, the Owaissa, Envious, said, "O Chibiabos, Teach me tones as wild and wayward, Teach me songs as full of frenzy!"
Yes, the robin, the Opechee, Joyous, said, "O Chibiabos, Teach me tones as sweet and tender, Teach me songs as full of gladness!" And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa, Sobbing, said, "O Chibiabos, Teach me tones as melancholy, Teach me songs as full of sadness!"
All the many sounds of nature Borrowed sweetness from his singing; All the hearts of men were softened By the pathos of his music; For he sang of peace and freedom, Sang of beauty, love, and longing; Sang of death, and life undying In the Islands of the Blessed, In the kingdom of Ponemah, In the land of the Hereafter.
Very dear to Hiawatha Was the gentle Chibiabos, He the best of all musicians, He the sweetest of all singers; For his gentleness he loved him, And the magic of his singing.
Dear, too, unto Hiawatha Was the very strong man, Kwasind, He the strongest of all mortals, He the mightiest among many; For his very strength he loved him, For his strength allied to goodness.
Idle in his youth was Kwasind, Very listless, dull, and dreamy, Never played with other children, Never fished and never hunted, Not like other children was he; But they saw that much he fasted, Much his Manito entreated, Much besought his Guardian Spirit.
"Lazy Kwasind!" said his mother, "In my work you never help me! In the Summer you are roaming Idly in the fields and forests; In the Winter you are cowering O'er the firebrands in the wigwam! In the coldest days of Winter I must break the ice for fishing; With my nets you never help me! At the door my nets are hanging, Dripping, freezing with the water; Go and wring them, Yenadizze! Go and dry them in the sunshine!"
Slowly, from the ashes, Kwasind Rose, but made no angry answer; From the lodge went forth in silence, Took the nets, that hung together, Dripping, freezing at the doorway, Like a wisp of straw he wrung them, Like a wisp of straw he broke them, Could not wring them without breaking, Such the strength was in his fingers.
"Lazy Kwasind!" said his father, "In the hunt you never help me; Every bow you touch is broken, Snapped asunder every arrow; Yet come with me to the forest, You shall bring the hunting homeward."
Down a narrow pass they wandered, Where a brooklet led them onward, Where the trail of deer and bison Marked the soft mud on the margin, Till they found all further passage Shut against them, barred securely By the trunks of trees uprooted, Lying lengthwise, lying crosswise, And forbidding further passage.
"We must go back," said the old man, "O'er these logs we cannot clamber; Not a woodchuck could get through them, Not a squirrel clamber o'er them!" And straightway his pipe he lighted, And sat down to smoke and ponder. But before his pipe was finished, Lo! the path was cleared before him; All the trunks had Kwasind lifted, To the right hand, to the left hand, Shot the pine-trees swift as arrows, Hurled the cedars light as lances.
"Lazy Kwasind!" said the young men, As they sported in the meadow: "Why stand idly looking at us, Leaning on the rock behind you? Come and wrestle with the others, Let us pitch the quoit together!"
Lazy Kwasind made no answer, To their challenge made no answer, Only rose, and, slowly turning, Seized the huge rock in his fingers, Tore it from its deep foundation, Poised it in the air a moment, Pitched it sheer into the river, Sheer into the swift Pauwating, Where it still is seen in Summer.
Once as down that foaming river, Down the rapids of Pauwating, Kwasind sailed with his companions, In the stream he saw a beaver, Saw Ahmeek, the King of Beavers, Struggling with the rushing currents, Rising, sinking in the water.
Without speaking, without pausing, Kwasind leaped into the river, Plunged beneath the bubbling surface, Through the whirlpools chased the beaver, Followed him among the islands, Stayed so long beneath the water, That his terrified companions Cried, "Alas! good-bye to Kwasind! We shall never more see Kwasind!" But he reappeared triumphant, And upon his shining shoulders Brought the beaver, dead and dripping, Brought the King of all the Beavers.
And these two, as I have told you, Were the friends of Hiawatha, Chibiabos, the musician, And the very strong man, Kwasind. Long they lived in peace together, Spake with naked hearts together, Pondering much and much contriving How the tribes of men might prosper.
Forth into the forest straightway All alone walked Hiawatha Proudly, with his bow and arrows, And the birds sang round him, o'er him, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!" Sang the robin, the Opechee, Sang the blue bird, the Owaissa, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
Up the oak tree, close beside him, Sprang the squirrel, Adjidaumo, In and out among the branches, Coughed and chattered from the oak tree, Laughed, and said between his laughing, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
And the rabbit from his pathway Leaped aside, and at a distance Sat erect upon his haunches, Half in fear and half in frolic, Saying to the little hunter, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
But he heeded not, nor heard them, For his thoughts were with the red deer; On their tracks his eyes were fastened, Leading downward to the river, To the ford across the river, And as one in slumber walked he,
Hidden in the alder bushes. There he waited till the deer came, Till he saw two antlers lifted, Saw two eyes look from the thicket, Saw two nostrils point to windward, And a deer came down the pathway, Flecked with leafy light and shadow. And his heart within him fluttered, Trembled like the leaves above him, Like the birch-leaf palpitated, As the deer came down the pathway.
Then, upon one knee uprising, Hiawatha aimed an arrow; Scarce a twig moved with his motion, Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled, But the wary roebuck started, Stamped with all his hoofs together, Listened with one foot uplifted, Leaped as if to meet the arrow; Ah! the singing, fatal arrow, Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him!
Dead he lay there in the forest, By the ford across the river; Beat his timid heart no longer, But the heart of Hiawatha Throbbed and shouted and exulted, As he bore the red deer homeward, And Iagoo and Nokomis Hailed his coming with applauses.
From the red deer's hide Nokomis Made a cloak for Hiawatha, From the red deer's flesh Nokomis Made a banquet in his honor. All the village came and feasted, All the guests praised Hiawatha, Called him Strong-heart, Soan-ge-taha! Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!
"Give me of your bark, O Birch-Tree! Of your yellow bark, O Birch-Tree! Growing by the rushing river, Tall and stately in the valley! I a light canoe will build me, Build a swift Cheemaun for sailing, That shall float upon the river, Like a yellow leaf in Autumn, Like a yellow water-lily!
"Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-Tree! Lay aside your white-skin wrapper, For the Summer-time is coming, And the sun is warm in heaven, And you need no white-skin wrapper!"
Thus aloud cried Hiawatha In the solitary forest, By the rushing Taquamenaw, When the birds were singing gayly, In the Moon of Leaves were singing, And the sun, from sleep awaking, Started up and said, "Behold me! Gheezis, the great Sun, behold me!"
And the tree with all its branches Rustled in the breeze of morning, Saying, with a sigh of patience, "Take my cloak, O Hiawatha!"
With his knife the tree he girdled; Just beneath its lowest branches, Just above the roots, he cut it, Till the sap came oozing outward: Down the trunk, from top to bottom, Sheer he cleft the bark asunder, With a wooden wedge he raised it, Stripped it from the trunk unbroken.
"Give me of your boughs, O Cedar! Of your strong and pliant branches, My canoe to make more steady, Make more strong and firm beneath me!"
Through the summit of the Cedar Went a sound, a cry of horror, Went a murmur of resistance; But it whispered, bending downward, "Take my boughs, O Hiawatha!"
Down he hewed the boughs of cedar, Shaped them straightway to a framework, Like two bows he formed and shaped them, Like two bended bows together.
"Give me of your roots, O Tamarack! Of your fibrous roots, O Larch-Tree! My canoe to bind together. So to bind the ends together, That the water may not enter, That the river may not wet me!"
And the Larch, with all its fibres, Shivered in the air of morning, Touched his forehead with its tassels, Said, with one long sigh of sorrow, "Take them all, O Hiawatha!"
From the earth he tore the fibres, Tore the tough roots of the Larch-Tree, Closely sewed the bark together, Bound it closely to the framework.
"Give me of your balm, O Fir-Tree! Of your balsam and your resin, So to close the seams together That the water may not enter, That the river may not wet me!"
And the Fir-Tree, tall and sombre, Sobbed through all its robes of darkness, Rattled like a shore with pebbles, Answered wailing, answered weeping, "Take my balm, O Hiawatha!"
And he took the tears of balsam, Took the resin of the Fir-Tree, Smeared therewith each seam and fissure, Made each crevice safe from water.
"Give me of your quills, O Hedgehog! All your quills, O Kagh, the Hedgehog! I will make a necklace of them, Make a girdle for my beauty, And two stars to deck her bosom!"
From a hollow tree the Hedgehog With his sleepy eyes looked at him, Shot his shining quills, like arrows, Saying, with a drowsy murmur, Through the tangle of his whiskers, "Take my quills, O Hiawatha!"
From the ground the quills he gathered, All the little shining arrows, Stained them red and blue and yellow, With the juice of roots and berries; Into his canoe he wrought them, Round its waist a shining girdle, Round its bow a gleaming necklace, On its breast two stars resplendent.
Thus the Birch Canoe was builded In the valley, by the river, In the bosom of the forest; And the forest's life was in it, All its mystery and its magic, All the lightness of the birch-tree, All the toughness of the cedar, All the larch's supple sinews; And it floated on the river Like a yellow leaf in Autumn, Like a yellow water-lily.
Paddles none had Hiawatha, Paddles none he had or needed, For his thoughts as paddles served him, And his wishes served to guide him; Swift or slow at will he glided, Veered to right or left at pleasure.
Then he called aloud to Kwasind, To his friend, the strong man, Kwasind, Saying, "Help me clear this river Of its sunken logs and sand-bars."
Straight into the river Kwasind Plunged as if he were an otter, Dived as if he were a beaver, Stood up to his waist in water, To his arm-pits in the river, Swam and shouted in the river, Tugged at sunken logs and branches, With his hands he scooped the sand-bars, With his feet the ooze and tangle.
And thus sailed my Hiawatha Down the rushing Taquamenaw, Sailed through all its bends and windings, Sailed through all its deeps and shallows, While his friend, the strong man, Kwasind, Swam the deeps, the shallows waded.
Up and down the river went they, In and out among its islands, Cleared its bed of root and sand-bar, Dragged the dead trees from its channel, Made its passage safe and certain Made a pathway for the people, From its springs among the mountains, To the water of Pauwating, To the bay of Taquamenaw.
* * * * *
POEMS BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
TO A BUTTERFLY
I've watched you now a full half hour Self-poised upon that yellow flower; And, little Butterfly! indeed I know not if you sleep or feed. How motionless!—not frozen seas More motionless!—and then What joy awaits you, when the breeze Hath found you out among the trees, And calls you forth again!
This plot of orchard-ground is ours; My trees they are, my Sister's flowers: Here rest your wings when they are weary, Here lodge as in a sanctuary! Come often to us, fear no wrong; Sit near us on the bough! We'll talk of sunshine and of song, And summer days, when we were young; Sweet childish days, that were as long As twenty days are now.
My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The child is father of the man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety.
WE ARE SEVEN
—A simple Child, That lightly draws its breath, And feels its life in every limb, What should it know of death?
I met a little cottage Girl: She was eight years old, she said; Her hair was thick with many a curl That clustered round her head.
She had a rustic, woodland air, And she was wildly clad: Her eyes were fair, and very fair; —Her beauty made me glad.
"Sisters and brothers, little Maid, How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said, And wondering looked at me.
"And where are they? I pray you tell." She answered, "Seven are we; And two of us at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea.
"Two of us in the church-yard lie, My sister and my brother; And, in the church-yard cottage, I Dwell near them with my mother."
"You say that two at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea, Yet ye are seven!—I pray you tell, Sweet Maid, how this may be."
Then did the little Maid reply, "Seven boys and girls are we; Two of us in the church-yard lie, Beneath the church-yard tree."
"You run about, my little Maid, Your limbs they are alive; If two are in the church-yard laid, Then ye are only five."
"Their graves are green, they may be seen," The little Maid replied, "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door, And they are side by side.
"My stockings there I often knit, My kerchief there I hem; And there upon the ground I sit, And sing a song to them.
"And often after sunset, Sir, When it is light and fair, I take my little porringer, And eat my supper there.
"The first that died was sister Jane; In bed she moaning lay, Till God released her of her pain; And then she went away.
"So in the church-yard she was laid; And, when the grass was dry, Together round her grave we played, My brother John and I.
"And when the ground was white with snow, And I could run and slide, My brother John was forced to go, And he lies by her side."
"How many are you, then," said I, "If they two are in heaven?" Quick was the little Maid's reply, "O Master! we are seven."
"But they are dead; those two are dead! Their spirits are in heaven!" 'Twas throwing words away; for still The little Maid would have her will, And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
* * * * *
POEMS BY MARY HOWITT
THE VOICE OF SPRING
I am coming, I am coming! Hark! the honey bee is humming; See, the lark is soaring high In the blue and sunny sky, And the gnats are on the wing Wheeling round in airy ring.
Listen! New-born lambs are bleating, And the cawing rooks are meeting In the elms—a noisy crowd. All the birds are singing loud, And the first white butterfly In the sunshine dances by.
Look around you, look around! Flowers in all the fields abound, Every running stream is bright, All the orchard trees are white, And each small and waving shoot Promises sweet autumn fruit.
BIRDS IN SUMMER
How pleasant the life of a bird must be, Flitting about in each leafy tree; In the leafy trees so broad and tall, Like a green and beautiful palace hall, With its airy chambers light and boon, That open to sun and stars and moon; That open to the bright blue sky, And the frolicsome winds as they wander by.
They have left their nests on the forest bough; Those homes of delight they need not now; And the young and the old they wander out, And traverse their green world round about; And hark! at the top of this leafy hall, How one to the other in love they call! "Come up! Come up!" they seem to say, "Where the topmost twigs in the breezes sway."
"Come up! come up! for the world is fair Where the merry leaves dance in the summer air." And the birds below give back the cry, "We come, we come to the branches high." How pleasant the lives of the birds must be, Living in love in a leafy tree! And away through the air what joy to go, And to look on the green, bright earth below!
How pleasant the life of a bird must be, Skimming about on the breezy sea, Cresting the billows like silvery foam, Then wheeling away to its cliff-built home! What joy it must be to sail, upborne, By a strong free wing, through the rosy morn, To meet the young sun, face to face, And pierce, like a shaft, the boundless space!
To pass through the bowers of the silver cloud; To sing in the thunder hall aloud; To spread out the wings for a wild, free flight With the upper cloud-wings,—oh, what delight! Oh, what would I give, like a bird, to go, Right on through the arch of the sun-lit bow, And see how the water-drops are kissed Into green and yellow and amethyst.
How pleasant the life of a bird must be, Wherever it listeth, there to flee; To go, when a joyful fancy calls, Dashing down 'mong the waterfalls; Then wheeling about, with its mate at play, Above and below, and among the spray, Hither and thither, with screams as wild As the laughing mirth of a rosy child.
What joy it must be, like a living breeze, To flutter about 'mid the flowering trees;
Lightly to soar, and to see beneath, The wastes of the blossoming purple heath, And the yellow furze, like fields of gold, That gladdened some fairy region old! On the mountain tops, on the billowy sea, On the leafy stems of a forest tree, How pleasant the life of a bird must be!
THE SPIDER AND THE FLY
"Will you walk into my parlor?" Said a spider to a fly; "'Tis the prettiest little parlor That ever you did spy. The way into my parlor Is up a winding stair, And I have many pretty things To show you when you're there." "O no, no," said the little fly, "To ask me is in vain; For who goes up your winding stair Can ne'er come down again."
"I'm sure you must be weary With soaring up so high; Will you rest upon my little bed?" Said the spider to the fly. "There are pretty curtains drawn around; The sheets are fine and thin; And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in." "O no, no," said the little fly, "For I've often heard it said They never, never wake again, Who sleep upon your bed."
Said the cunning spider to the fly, "Dear friend, what shall I do To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you? I have, within my pantry, Good store of all that's nice; I'm sure you're very welcome— Will you please to take a slice?" "O no, no," said the little fly, "Kind sir, that cannot be; I've heard what's in your pantry, And I do not wish to see."
"Sweet creature," said the spider, "You're witty and you're wise; How handsome are your gauzy wings, How brilliant are your eyes. I have a little looking-glass Upon my parlor shelf; If you'll step in one moment, dear, You shall behold yourself." "I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "For what you're pleased to say, And bidding you good-morning now, I'll call another day."
The spider turned him round about, And went into his den, For well he knew the silly fly Would soon be back again; So he wove a subtle web In a little corner sly, And set his table ready To dine upon the fly.
He went out to his door again, And merrily did sing, "Come hither, hither, pretty fly, With pearl and silver wing; Your robes are green and purple, There's a crest upon your head; Your eyes are like the diamond bright, But mine are dull as lead."
Alas, alas! how very soon This silly little fly, Hearing his wily, flattering words, Came slowly flitting by; With buzzing wings she hung aloft, Then near and nearer drew— Thought only of her brilliant eyes, And green and purple hue; Thought only of her crested head— Poor foolish thing! At last Up jumped the cunning spider, And fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, Into his dismal den Within his little parlor—but She ne'er came out again! And now, dear little children Who may this story read, To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you, ne'er give heed. Unto an evil counselor Close heart and ear and eye; And take a lesson from this tale Of the spider and the fly.
THE FAIRIES OF THE CALDON LOW
"And where have you been, my Mary, And where have you been from me?" "I've been to the top of the Caldon Low, The midsummer night to see!"
"And what did you see, my Mary, All up on the Caldon Low?" "I saw the glad sunshine come down, And I saw the merry winds blow."
"And what did you hear, my Mary, All up on the Caldon Hill?" "I heard the drops of the water made, And the ears of the green corn fill."
"Oh! tell me all, my Mary— All, all that ever you know; For you must have seen the fairies Last night on the Caldon Low."
"Then take me on your knee, mother; And listen, mother of mine: A hundred fairies danced last night. And the harpers they were nine;
"And their harp-strings rung so merrily To their dancing feet so small; But oh! the words of their talking Were merrier far than all."
"And what were the words, my Mary, That then you heard them say?" "I'll tell you all, my mother; But let me have my way.
"Some of them play'd with the water, And roll'd it down the hill; 'And this,' they said, 'shall speedily turn The poor old miller's mill;
"'For there has been no water Ever since the first of May; And a busy man will the miller be At dawning of the day.
"'Oh! the miller, how he will laugh When he sees the mill-dam rise! The jolly old miller, how he will laugh Till the tears fill both his eyes!'
"And some they seized the little winds That sounded over the hill; And each put a horn unto his mouth, And blew both loud and shrill;
"'And there,' they said, 'the merry winds go Away from every horn; And they shall clear the mildew dank From the blind old widow's corn.
"'Oh! the poor, blind widow, Though she has been blind so long, She'll be blithe enough when the mildew's gone, And the corn stands tall and strong,'
"And some they brought the brown lint-seed, And flung it down from the Low; 'And this!' they said, 'by the sunrise, In the weaver's croft shall grow.
"'Oh! the poor, lame weaver, How he will laugh outright When he sees his dwindling flax-field All full of flowers by night!'
"And then outspoke a brownie, With a long beard on his chin; 'I have spun up all the tow,' said he, 'And I want some more to spin.
"'I've spun a piece of hempen cloth, And I want to spin another; A little sheet for Mary's bed, And an apron for her mother.'
"With that I could not help but laugh, And I laugh'd out loud and free; And then on the top of the Caldon Low There was no one left but me.
"And all on the top of the Caldon Low The mists were cold and gray, And nothing I saw but the mossy stones That round about me lay.
"But, coming down from the hill-top, I heard afar below, How busy the jolly miller was, And how the wheel did go.
"And I peep'd into the widow's field, And, sure enough, were seen The yellow ears of the mildew'd corn, All standing stout and green.
"And down by the weaver's croft I stole, To see if the flax were sprung; And I met the weaver at his gate, With the good news on his tongue.
"Now this is all I heard, mother, And all that I did see; So, pr'ythee, make my bed, mother, For I'm tired as I can be."
Now he who knows old Christmas, He knows a carle of worth; For he is as good a fellow As any upon earth.
He comes warm cloaked and coated, And buttoned up to the chin; And soon as he comes a-nigh the door We open and let him in.
And with sprigs of holly and ivy We make the house look gay, Just out of an old regard for him, For it was his ancient way.
He must be a rich old fellow, What money he gives away! There is not a lord in England Could equal him any day.
Good luck unto old Christmas, And long life, let us sing, For he doth more good unto the poor Than many a crowned king.
* * * * *
POEMS BY ALICE AND PHOEBE CARY
THE PIG AND THE HEN
The pig and the hen, They both got in one pen, And the hen said she wouldn't go out. "Mistress Hen," says the pig, "Don't you be quite so big!" And he gave her a push with his snout.
"You are rough, and you're fat, But who cares for all that; I will stay if I choose," says the hen. "No, mistress, no longer!" Says pig, "I'm the stronger, And mean to be boss of my pen!"
Then the hen cackled out Just as close to his snout As she dare: "You're an ill-natured brute, And if I had the corn, Just as sure as I'm born, I would send you to starve or to root!"
"But you don't own the cribs; So I think that my ribs Will be never the leaner for you: This trough is my trough, And the sooner you're off," Says the pig, "why the better you'll do!"
"You're not a bit fair, And you're cross as a bear; What harm do I do in your pen? But a pig is a pig, And I don't care a fig For the worst you can say," says the hen.
Says the pig, "You will care If I act like a bear And tear your two wings from your neck," "What a nice little pen You have got!" says the hen, Beginning to scratch and to peck.
Now the pig stood amazed And the bristles, upraised A moment past, fell down so sleek. "Neighbor Biddy," says he, "If you'll just allow me, I will show you a nice place to pick!"
So she followed him off, And they ate from one trough—
They had quarreled for nothing, they saw; And when they had fed, "Neighbor Hen," the pig said, "Won't you stay here and roost in my straw?"
"No, I thank you; you see That I sleep in a tree," Says the hen; "but I must go away; So a grateful good-by." "Make your home in my sty," Says the pig, "and come in every day."
Now my child will not miss The true moral of this Little story of anger and strife; For a word spoken soft Will turn enemies oft Into friends that will stay friends for life.
A LESSON OF MERCY
A boy named Peter Found once in the road All harmless and helpless, A poor little toad;
And ran to his playmate, And all out of breath Cried, "John, come and help, And we'll stone him to death!"
And picking up stones, The two went on the run, Saying, one to the other, "Oh, won't we have fun?"
Thus primed and all ready, They'd got nearly back, When a donkey came Dragging a cart on the track.
Now the cart was as much As the donkey could draw, And he came with his head Hanging down; so he saw,
All harmless and helpless, The poor little toad, A-taking his morning nap Right in the road.
He shivered at first, Then he drew back his leg, And set up his ears, Never moving a peg.
Then he gave the poor toad, With his warm nose a dump, And he woke and got off With a hop and jump.
And then with an eye Turned on Peter and John, And hanging his homely head Down, he went on.
"We can't kill him now, John," Says Peter, "that's flat, In the face of an eye and An action like that!"
"For my part, I haven't The heart to," says John; "But the load is too heavy That donkey has on:
"Let's help him"; so both lads Set off with a will And came up with the cart At the foot of the hill.
And when each a shoulder Had put to the wheel, They helped the poor donkey A wonderful deal.
When they got to the top Back again they both run, Agreeing they never Had had better fun.
The leaves are fading and falling, The winds are rough and wild, The birds have ceased their calling, But let me tell you, my child,
Though day by day, as it closes, Doth darker and colder grow, The roots of the bright red roses Will keep alive in the snow.
And when the winter is over, The boughs will get new leaves, The quail come back to the clover, And the swallow back to the eaves.
The robin will wear on his bosom A vest that is bright and new, And the loveliest wayside blossom Will shine with the sun and dew.
The leaves to-day are whirling, The brooks are all dry and dumb, But let me tell you, my darling, The spring will be sure to come.
There must be rough, cold weather, And winds and rains so wild; Not all good things together Come to us here, my child.
So, when some dear joy loses Its beauteous summer glow, Think how the roots of the roses Are kept alive in the snow.
Across the German Ocean, In a country far from our own, Once, a poor little boy, named Gottlieb, Lived with his mother alone.
They dwelt in the part of a village Where the houses were poor and small, But the home of little Gottlieb, Was the poorest one of all
He was not large enough to work, And his mother could do no more (Though she scarcely laid her knitting down) Than keep the wolf from the door.
She had to take their threadbare clothes, And turn, and patch, and darn; For never any woman yet Grew rich by knitting yarn.
And oft at night, beside her chair, Would Gottlieb sit, and plan The wonderful things he would do for her, When he grew to be a man.
One night she sat and knitted, And Gottlieb sat and dreamed, When a happy fancy all at once Upon his vision beamed.
'Twas only a week till Christmas, And Gottlieb knew that then The Christ-child, who was born that day, Sent down good gifts to men.
But he said, "He will never find us, Our home is so mean and small. And we, who have most need of them, Will get no gifts at all."
When all at once a happy light Came into his eyes so blue, And lighted up his face with smiles, As he thought what he could do.
Next day when the postman's letters Came from all over the land; Came one for the Christ-child, written In a child's poor trembling hand.
You may think he was sorely puzzled What in the world to do; So he went to the Burgomaster, As the wisest man he knew.
And when they opened the letter, They stood almost dismayed That such a little child should dare To ask the Lord for aid.
Then the Burgomaster stammered, And scarce knew what to speak, And hastily he brushed aside A drop, like a tear, from his cheek.
Then up he spoke right gruffly, And turned himself about: "This must be a very foolish boy, And a small one, too, no doubt."
But when six rosy children That night about him pressed, Poor, trusting little Gottlieb Stood near him, with the rest.
And he heard his simple, touching prayer, Through all their noisy play; Though he tried his very best to put The thought of him away.
A wise and learned man was he, Men called him good and just; But his wisdom seemed like foolishness, By that weak child's simple trust.
Now when the morn of Christmas came And the long, long week was done, Poor Gottlieb, who scarce could sleep, Rose up before the sun,
And hastened to his mother, But he scarce might speak for fear, When he saw her wondering look, and saw The Burgomaster near.
He wasn't afraid of the Holy Babe, Nor his mother, meek and mild; But he felt as if so great a man Had never been a child.
Amazed the poor child looked, to find The hearth was piled with wood, And the table, never full before, Was heaped with dainty food.
Then half to hide from himself the truth The Burgomaster said, While the mother blessed him on her knees, And Gottlieb shook for dread;
"Nay, give no thanks, my good dame, To such as me for aid, Be grateful to your little son, And the Lord to whom he prayed!"
Then turning round to Gottlieb, "Your written prayer, you see, Came not to whom it was addressed, It only came to me!
"'Twas but a foolish thing you did, As you must understand; For though the gifts are yours, you know, You have them from my hand."
Then Gottlieb answered fearlessly, Where he humbly stood apart, "But the Christ-child sent them all the same, He put the thought in your heart!"
Here's a hand to the boy who has courage To do what he knows to be right; When he falls in the way of temptation, He has a hard battle to fight. Who strives against self and his comrades Will find a most powerful foe; All honor to him if he conquers— A cheer for the boy who says "No!"
There's many a battle fought daily The world knows nothing about; There's many a brave little soldier Whose strength puts a legion to rout.
And he who fights sin single-handed Is more of a hero, I say, Than he who leads soldiers to battle, And conquers by arms in the fray.
Be steadfast, my boy, when you're tempted And do what you know to be right; Stand firm by the colors of manhood, And you will overcome in the fight. "The Right" be your battle-cry ever, In waging the warfare of life; And God, who knows who are the heroes, Will give you the strength for the strife.
AN APRIL WELCOME
Come up, April, through the valley, In your robes of beauty drest, Come and wake your flowery children From their wintry beds of rest; Come and overblow them softly With the sweet breath of the south; Drop upon them, warm and loving, Tenderest kisses of your mouth.
Touch them with your rosy fingers, Wake them with your pleasant tread, Push away the leaf-brown covers, Over all their faces spread;
Tell them how the sun is waiting Longer daily in the skies, Looking for the bright uplifting Of their softly-fringed eyes.
Call the crow-foot and the crocus, Call the pale anemone, Call the violet and the daisy, Clothed with careful modesty; Seek the low and humble blossoms, Of their beauties unaware, Let the dandelion and fennel, Show their shining yellow hair.
Bid the little homely sparrows Chirping, in the cold and rain, Their impatient sweet complaining, Sing out from their hearts again; Bid them set themselves to mating, Cooing love in softest words, Crowd their nests, all cold and empty, Full of little callow birds.
Come up, April, through the valley, Where the fountain sleeps to-day, Let him, freed from icy fetters, Go rejoicing on his way; Through the flower-enameled meadows Let him run his laughing race, Making love to all the blossoms That o'erlean and kiss his face.
But not birds and blossoms only, Not alone the streams complain, Men and maidens too are calling, Come up, April, come again! Waiting with the sweet impatience Of a lover for the hours They shall set the tender beauty Of thy feet among the flowers!
Shorter and shorter now the twilight clips The days, as through the sunset gates they crowd, And Summer from her golden collar slips And strays through stubble-fields and moans aloud.
Save when by fits the warmer air deceives, And, stealing hopeful to some sheltered bower, She lies on pillows of the yellow leaves, And tries the old tunes over for an hour.
The wind, whose tender whisper in the May Set all the young blooms listening through the grove, Sits rustling in the faded boughs to-day And makes his cold and unsuccessful love.
The rose has taken off her 'tire of red— The mullein-stalk its yellow stars have lost, And the proud meadow-pink hangs down her head Against earth's chilly bosom, witched with frost.
The robin, that was busy all the June, Before the sun had kissed the topmost bough, Catching our hearts up in his golden tune, Has given place to the brown cricket now.
The very cock crows lonesomely at morn— Each flag and fern the shrinking stream divides— Uneasy cattle low, and lambs forlorn Creep to their strawy sheds with nettled sides.
Shut up the door: who loves me must not look Upon the withered world, but haste to bring His lighted candle, and his story-book, And live with me the poetry of spring.
* * * * *
POEMS BY CHARLES KINGSLEY
THE THREE FISHERS
Three fishers went sailing away to the west— Away to the west as the sun went down; Each thought on the woman who loved him the best, And the children stood watching them out of the town; For men must work, and women must weep; And there's little to earn, and many to keep, Though the harbor bar be moaning.
Three wives sat up in the lighthouse tower, And they trimm'd the lamps as the sun went down; They look'd at the squall, and they look'd at the shower, And the night-rack came rolling up, ragged and brown; But men must work, and women must weep, Though storms be sudden, and waters deep, And the harbor bar be moaning.
Three corpses lay out on the shining sands In the morning gleam as the tide went down, And the women are weeping and wringing their hands For those who will never come home to the town; For men must work, and women must weep— And the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep— And good-bye to the bar and its moaning.
THE "OLD, OLD SONG"
When all the world is young, lad, And all the trees are green; And every goose a swan, lad, And every lass a queen,— Then hey for boot and horse, lad, And round the world away; Young blood must have its course, lad, And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad, And all the trees are brown; And all the sport is stale, lad, And all the wheels run down,— Creep home, and take your place there, The spent and maimed among: God grant you find one face there You loved when all was young.
My fairest child, I have no song to give you; No lark could pipe to skies so dull and gray; Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you For every day.
Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever; Do noble things, not dream them, all day long: And so make life, death, and that vast forever One grand, sweet song.
THE LOST DOLL
I once had a sweet little doll, dears, The prettiest doll in the world; Her cheeks were so red and white, dears, And her hair was so charmingly curled. But I lost my poor little doll, dears, As I played in the heath one day; And I cried for her more than a week, dears, But I never could find where she lay.
I found my poor little doll, dears, As I played in the heath one day; Folks say she is terribly changed, dears, For her paint is all washed away, And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears, And her hair not the least bit curled; Yet for old sakes' sake, she is still, dears, The prettiest doll in the world.
* * * * *
POEMS BY HELEN HUNT JACKSON
"DOWN TO SLEEP"
November woods are bare and still; November days are clear and bright; Each noon burns up the morning's chill; The morning's snow is gone by night. Each day my steps grow slow, grow light, As through the woods I reverent creep, Watching all things lie "down to sleep."
I never knew before what beds, Fragrant to smell, and soft to touch, The forest sifts and shapes and spreads; I never knew before how much Of human sound there is in such Low tones as through the forest sweep, When all wild things lie "down to sleep."
Each day I find new coverlids Tucked in, and more sweet eyes shut tight; Sometimes the viewless mother bids Her ferns kneel down full in my sight; I hear their chorus of "good-night"; And half I smile, and half I weep, Listening while they lie "down to sleep."
November woods are bare and still; November days are bright and good; Life's noon burns up life's morning chill; Life's night rests feet which long have stood; Some warm soft bed, in field or wood, The mother will not fail to keep, Where we can "lay us down to sleep."
The goldenrod is yellow, The corn is turning brown, The trees in apple orchards With fruit are bending down;
The gentian's bluest fringes Are curling in the sun; In dusty pods the milkweed Its hidden silk has spun;
The sedges flaunt their harvest In every meadow nook, And asters by the brookside Make asters in the brook;
From dewy lanes at morning The grapes' sweet odors rise; At noon the roads all flutter With yellow butterflies—
By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer's best of weather And autumn's best of cheer.
OCTOBER'S BRIGHT BLUE WEATHER
O suns and skies and clouds of June, And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour October's bright blue weather.
When loud the bumble-bee makes haste, Belated, thriftless, vagrant, And golden-rod is dying fast, And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
When gentians roll their fringes tight To save them for the morning, And chestnuts fall from satin burrs Without a sound of warning;
When on the ground red apples lie In piles like jewels shining, And redder still on old stone walls Are leaves of woodbine twining;
When all the lovely wayside things Their white-winged seeds are sowing, And in the fields, still green and fair, Late aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low, and on the brooks, In idle golden freighting, Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts, By twos and twos together, And count like misers hour by hour, October's bright blue weather.
O suns and skies and flowers of June, Count all your boasts together, Love loveth best of all the year October's bright blue weather.
* * * * *
POEMS BY GABRIEL SETOUN
I saw a ship a-sailing, A-sailing on the sea; Her masts were of the shining gold, Her deck of ivory; And sails of silk, as soft as milk, And silver shrouds had she.
And round about her sailing, The sea was sparkling white, The waves all clapped their hands and sang To see so fair a sight. They kissed her twice, they kissed her thrice, And murmured with delight.
Then came the gallant captain, And stood upon the deck; In velvet coat, and ruffles white, Without a spot or speck; And diamond rings, and triple strings Of pearls around his neck.
And four-and-twenty sailors Were round him bowing low; On every jacket three times three Gold buttons in a row; And cutlasses down to their knees; They made a goodly show.
And then the ship went sailing, A-sailing o'er the sea; She dived beyond the setting sun, But never back came she, For she found the lands of the golden sands, Where the pearls and diamonds be.
The door was shut, as doors should be, Before you went to bed last night; Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see, And left your window silver white.
He must have waited till you slept; And not a single word he spoke, But pencilled o'er the panes and crept Away again before you woke.
And now you cannot see the hills Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane; But there are fairer things than these His fingers traced on every pane.
Rocks and castles towering high; Hills and dales, and streams and fields; And knights in armor riding by, With nodding plumes and shining shields.
And here are little boats, and there Big ships with sails spread to the breeze; And yonder, palm trees waving fair On islands set in silver seas,
And butterflies with gauzy wings; And herds of cows and flocks of sheep; And fruit and flowers and all the things You see when you are sound asleep.
For, creeping softly underneath The door when all the lights are out, Jack Frost takes every breath you breathe, And knows the things you think about.
He paints them on the window-pane In fairy lines with frozen steam; And when you wake you see again The lovely things you saw in dream.
THE WORLD'S MUSIC
The world's a very happy place, Where every child should dance and sing, And always have a smiling face, And never sulk for anything.
I waken when the morning's come, And feel the air and light alive With strange sweet music like the hum Of bees about their busy hive.
The linnets play among the leaves At hide-and-seek, and chirp and sing; While, flashing to and from the eaves, The swallows twitter on the wing.
The twigs that shake, and boughs that sway; And tall old trees you could not climb; And winds that come, but cannot stay, Are singing gaily all the time.
From dawn to dark the old mill-wheel Makes music, going round and round; And dusty-white with flour and meal, The miller whistles to its sound.
And if you listen to the rain Where leaves and birds and bees are dumb, You hear it pattering on the pane Like Andrew beating on his drum.
The coals beneath the kettle croon, And clap their hands and dance in glee; And even the kettle hums a tune To tell you when it's time for tea.
The world is such a happy place That children, whether big or small, Should always have a smiling face, And never, never sulk at all.
* * * * *
POEMS BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
A MORNING SONG
Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings, And Phoebus 'gins arise, His steeds to water at those springs On chaliced flowers that lies; And winking Mary-buds begin To ope their golden eyes: With everything that pretty bin, My lady sweet, arise: Arise, arise!
UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE
Under the greenwood tree Who loves to lie with me, And tune his merry note Unto the sweet bird's throat, Come hither, come hither, come hither! Here shall he see No enemy But winter and rough weather. Who doth ambition shun, And loves to live i' the sun, Seeking the food he eats, And pleased with what he gets, Come hither, come hither, come hither! Here shall he see No enemy But winter and rough weather.
LULLABY FOR TITANIA
FIRST FAIRY You spotted snakes with double tongue, Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen; Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong, Come not near our fairy queen.
Chorus Philomel, with melody Sing in our sweet lullaby; Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby! Never harm, Nor spell, nor charm, Come our lovely lady nigh! So good-night, with lullaby.
SECOND FAIRY Weaving spiders, come not here; Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence; Beetles black, approach not near; Worm, nor snail, do no offence.
SONG OF THE FAIRY
Over hill, over dale, Thorough bush, thorough brier, Over park, over pale, Thorough flood, thorough fire, I do wander everywhere, Swifter than the moon's sphere; And I serve the fairy queen, To dew her orbs upon the green. The cowslips tall her pensioners be! In their gold coats spots you see; Those be rubies, fairy favors, In those freckles live their savors: I must go seek some dewdrops here, And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
When icicles hang by the wall And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, And Tom bears logs into the hall, And milk comes frozen home in pail, When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul, Then nightly sings the staring owl, To-who; Tu-whit, to-who, a merry note, While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all around the wind doth blow, And coughing drowns the parson's saw, And birds sit brooding in the snow, And Marian's nose looks red and raw, When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl, Then nightly sings the staring owl, To-who; Tu-whit, to-who, a merry note, While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
* * * * * * * * * *
POEMS BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
I shan't tell you what's his name: When we want to play a game, Always thinks that he'll be hurt, Soil his jacket in the dirt, Tear his trousers, spoil his hat,— Fraidie-Cat! Fraidie-Cat!
Nothing of the boy in him! "Dasn't" try to learn to swim; Says a cow'll hook; if she Looks at him he'll climb a tree; "Scart" to death at bee or bat,— Fraidie-Cat! Fraidie-Cat!
Claims there're ghosts all snowy white Wandering around at night In the attic; wouldn't go There for anything, I know; B'lieve he'd run if you said "Scat!" Fraidie-Cat! Fraidie-Cat! Clinton Scollard.
JACK IN THE PULPIT
Jack in the pulpit Preaches to-day, Under the green trees Just over the way. Squirrel and song-sparrow, High on their perch, Hear the sweet lily-bells Ringing to church. Come, hear what his reverence Rises to say, In his low painted pulpit This calm Sabbath-day. Fair is the canopy Over him seen, Penciled by Nature's hand, Black, brown, and green. Green is his surplice, Green are his bands; In his queer little pulpit The little priest stands.
In black and gold velvet, So gorgeous to see, Comes with his bass voice The chorister bee. Green fingers playing Unseen on wind-lyres, Low singing bird voices,— These are his choirs. The violets are deacons— I know by the sign That the cups which they carry Are purple with wine. And the columbines bravely As sentinels stand On the look-out with all their Red trumpets in hand.
Meek-faced anemones, Drooping and sad; Great yellow violets, Smiling out glad; Buttercups' faces, Beaming and bright; Clovers, with bonnets,— Some red and some white; Daisies, their white fingers Half-clasped in prayer; Dandelions, proud of The gold of their hair; Innocents,—children Guileless and frail, Meek little faces Upturned and pale; Wild-wood geraniums, All in their best, Languidly leaning In purple gauze dressed:— All are assembled This sweet Sabbath-day To hear what the priest In his pulpit will say.
Look! white Indian pipes On the green mosses lie! Who has been smoking Profanely so nigh? Rebuked by the preacher The mischief is stopped, But the sinners, in haste, Have their little pipes dropped. Let the wind, with the fragrance Of fern and black birch, Blow the smell of the smoking Clean out of the church! So much for the preacher: The sermon comes next,— Shall we tell how he preached it, And where was his text? Alas! like too many Grown-up folks who play At worship in churches Man-builded to-day,— We heard not the preacher Expound or discuss;
But we looked at the people, And they looked at us. We saw all their dresses, Their colors and shapes; The trim of their bonnets, The cut of their capes. We heard the wind-organ, The bee, and the bird, But of Jack in the pulpit We heard not a word! Clara Smith.
THE ANT AND THE CRICKET
A silly young cricket, accustomed to sing Through the warm, sunny months of gay summer and spring, Began to complain, when he found that at home His cupboard was empty and winter was come. Not a crumb to be found On the snow-covered ground; Not a flower could he see, Not a leaf on a tree.
"Oh, what will become," says the cricket, "of me?" At last by starvation and famine made bold, All dripping with wet and all trembling with cold, Away he set off to a miserly ant To see if, to keep him alive, he would grant Him shelter from rain. A mouthful of grain He wished only to borrow, He'd repay it to-morrow; If not helped, he must die of starvation and sorrow.
Says the ant to the cricket: "I'm your servant and friend, But we ants never borrow, we ants never lend. Pray tell me, dear sir, did you lay nothing by When the weather was warm?" Said the cricket, "Not I. My heart was so light That I sang day and night, For all nature looked gay." "You sang, sir, you say? Go then," said the ant, "and sing winter away."
Thus ending, he hastily lifted the wicket And out of the door turned the poor little cricket. Though this is a fable, the moral is good— If you live without work, you must live without food. Anonymous.
Ring-Ting! I wish I were a Primrose, A bright yellow Primrose, blowing in the spring! The stooping boughs above me, The wandering bee to love me, The fern and moss to creep across, And the Elm tree for our king!
Nay—stay! I wish I were an Elm tree, A great, lofty Elm tree, with green leaves gay! The winds would set them dancing, The sun and moonshine glance in, The birds would house among the boughs, And sweetly sing.
Oh no! I wish I were a Robin, A Robin or a little Wren, everywhere to go; Through forest, field, or garden, And ask no leave or pardon, Till winter comes with icy thumbs To ruffle up our wing!
Well—tell! Where should I fly to, Where go to sleep in the dark wood or dell? Before a day was over, Home comes the rover, For mother's kiss—sweeter this Than any other thing. William Allingham.
Good-bye, good-bye to Summer! For Summer's nearly done; The garden smiling faintly, Cool breezes in the sun! Our thrushes now are silent,— Our swallows flown away,— But Robin's here in coat of brown, And scarlet breast-knot gay. Robin, Robin Redbreast, O Robin dear! Robin sings so sweetly In the falling of the year.
Bright yellow, red, and orange, The leaves come down in hosts; The trees are Indian princes, But soon they'll turn to ghosts; The scanty pears and apples Hang russet on the bough; It's autumn, autumn, autumn late, 'Twill soon be winter now. Robin, Robin Redbreast, O Robin dear! And what will this poor Robin do? For pinching days are near.
The fireside for the cricket, The wheat-stack for the mouse, When trembling night-winds whistle And moan all round the house. The frosty ways like iron, The branches plumed with snow,— Alas! in winter dead and dark, Where can poor Robin go? Robin, Robin Redbreast, O Robin dear! And a crumb of bread for Robin, His little heart to cheer. William Allingham.
THE CHESTNUT BURR
A wee little nut lay deep in its nest Of satin and brown, the softest and best, And slept and grew while its cradle rocked— As it hung in the boughs that interlocked.
Now, the house was small where the cradle lay, As it swung in the winds by night and day; For a thicket of underbrush fenced it round, This lone little cot by the great sun browned.
This little nut grew, and ere long it found There was work outside on the soft, green ground; It must do its part, so the world might know It had tried one little seed to sow.
And soon the house that had kept it warm Was tossed about by the autumn storm; The stem was cracked, the old house fell, And the chestnut burr was an empty shell.
But the little nut, as it waiting lay, Dreamed a wonderful dream one day, Of how it should break its coat of brown, And live as a tree, to grow up and down. Anonymous.
Robins in the tree-top, Blossoms in the grass, Green things a-growing Everywhere you pass; Sudden little breezes, Showers of silver dew, Black bough and bent twig Budding out anew; Pine-tree and willow-tree, Fringed elm and larch,— Don't you think that May-time's Pleasanter than March?
Apples in the orchard Mellowing one by one; Strawberries upturning Soft cheeks to the sun;
Roses faint with sweetness, Lilies fair of face, Drowsy scents and murmurs Haunting every place; Lengths of golden sunshine, Moonlight bright as day,— Don't you think that summer's Pleasanter than May?
Roger in the corn-patch Whistling negro songs; Pussy by the hearth-side Romping with the tongs; Chestnuts in the ashes Bursting through the rind; Red leaf and gold leaf Rustling down the wind; Mother "doin' peaches" All the afternoon,— Don't you think that autumn's Pleasanter than June?
Little fairy snow-flakes Dancing in the flue; Old Mr. Santa Claus, What is keeping you? Twilight and firelight Shadows come and go;
Merry chime of sleigh-bells Tinkling through the snow; Mother knitting stockings (Pussy's got the ball),— Don't you think that winter's Pleasanter than all? Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
Just as the moon was fading Amid her misty rings, And every stocking was stuffed With childhood's precious things,
Old Kriss Kringle looked around, And saw on the elm-tree bough, High hung, an oriole's nest, Lonely and empty now.
"Quite a stocking," he laughed, "Hung up there on a tree! I didn't suppose the birds Expected a present from me!"
Then old Kriss Kringle, who loves A joke as well as the best, Dropped a handful of snowflakes Into the oriole's empty nest. Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
LITTLE BY LITTLE
"Little by little," an acorn said, As it slowly sank in its mossy bed, "I am improving every day, Hidden deep in the earth away."
Little by little, each day it grew; Little by little, it sipped the dew; Downward it sent out a thread-like root; Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot.
Day after day, and year after year, Little by little the leaves appear; And the slender branches spread far and wide, Till the mighty oak is the forest's pride.
Far down in the depths of the dark blue sea, An insect train work ceaselessly. Grain by grain, they are building well, Each one alone in its little cell.
Moment by moment, and day by day, Never stopping to rest or to play, Rocks upon rocks, they are rearing high, Till the top looks out on the sunny sky.
The gentle wind and the balmy air, Little by little, bring verdure there; Till the summer sunbeams gayly smile On the buds and the flowers of the coral isle.
"Little by little," said a thoughtful boy, "Moment by moment, I'll well employ, Learning a little every day, And not spending all my time in play. And still this rule in my mind shall dwell, Whatever I do, I will do it well.
"Little by little, I'll learn to know The treasured wisdom of long ago; And one of these days, perhaps, we'll see That the world will be the better for me"; And do you not think that this simple plan Made him a wise and useful man? Anonymous.
THE FAIRY QUEEN
Come, follow, follow me— You, fairy elves that be, Which circle on the green— Come, follow Mab, your queen! Hand in hand let's dance around, For this place is fairy ground.
When mortals are at rest, And snoring in their nest, Unheard and unespied, Through keyholes we do glide; Over tables, stools, and shelves, We trip it with our fairy elves.
And if the house be foul With platter, dish, or bowl, Upstairs we nimbly creep, And find the sluts asleep; There we pinch their arms and thighs— None escapes, nor none espies.
But if the house be swept, And from uncleanness kept, We praise the household maid, And duly she is paid; For we use, before we go, To drop a tester in her shoe.
Upon a mushroom's head Our tablecloth we spread; A grain of rye or wheat Is manchet, which we eat; Pearly drops of dew we drink, In acorn cups, fil'd to the brink.
The brains of nightingales, With unctuous fat of snails, Between two cockles stew'd, Is meat that's easily chew'd; Tails of worms, and marrow of mice, Do make a dish that's wondrous nice.
The grasshopper, gnat, and fly, Serve us for our minstrelsy; Grace said, we dance a while, And so the time beguile; And if the moon doth hide her head, The glow-worm lights us home to bed.
On tops of dewy grass So nimbly do we pass, The young and tender stalk Ne'er bends when we do walk; Yet in the morning may be seen Where we the night before have been. Anonymous.
A BUSY DAY
The bluff March wind set out from home Before the peep of day, But nobody seemed to be glad he had come, And nobody asked him to stay.
Yet he dried up the snow-banks far and near, And made the snow-clouds roll, Huddled up in a heap, like driven sheep, Way off to the cold North Pole.
He broke the ice on the river's back And floated it down the tide, And the wild ducks came with a loud "Quack, quack," To play in the waters wide.
He snatched the hat off Johnny's head And rolled it on and on, And oh, what a merry chase it led Little laughing and scampering John!
He swung the tree where the squirrel lay Too late in its winter bed, And he seemed to say in his jolly way, "Wake up, little sleepy head!"
He dried the yard so that Rob and Ted Could play at marbles there, And he painted their cheeks a carmine red With the greatest skill and care.
He shook all the clothes-lines, one by one, What a busy time he had! But nobody thanked him for all he had done; Now wasn't that just too bad? Anonymous.
A LAUGHING CHORUS
Oh, such a commotion under the ground When March called, "Ho, there! ho!" Such spreading of rootlets far and wide, Such whispering to and fro; And, "Are you ready?" the Snowdrop asked, "'Tis time to start, you know." "Almost, my dear," the Scilla replied; "I'll follow as soon as you go." Then, "Ha! ha! ha!" a chorus came Of laughter soft and low, From the millions of flowers under the ground— Yes—millions—beginning to grow.
"I'll promise my blossoms," the Crocus said, "When I hear the bluebirds sing." And straight thereafter, Narcissus cried, "My silver and gold I'll bring." "And ere they are dulled," another spoke, "The Hyacinth bells shall ring." And the Violet only murmured, "I'm here," And sweet grew the air of spring. Then, "Ha! ha! ha!" a chorus came Of laughter soft and low, From the millions of flowers under the ground— Yes—millions—beginning to grow.
Oh, the pretty, brave things! through the coldest days, Imprisoned in walls of brown, They never lost heart though the blast shrieked loud, And the sleet and the hail came down, But patiently each wrought her beautiful dress, Or fashioned her beautiful crown; And now they are coming to brighten the world, Still shadowed by Winter's frown; And well may they cheerily laugh, "Ha! ha!" In a chorus soft and low, The millions of flowers hid under the ground— Yes—millions—beginning to grow. Anonymous.
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER
The sun was shining on the sea, Shining with all his might: He did his very best to make The billows smooth and bright— And this was odd, because it was The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily, Because she thought the sun Had got no business to be there After the day was done— "It's very rude of him," she said, "To come and spoil the fun!"
The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry. You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky: No birds were flying overhead— There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Were walking close at hand: They wept like anything to see Such quantities of sand: "If this were only cleared away," They said, "It would be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year, Do you suppose," the Walrus said, "That they could get it clear?" "I doubt it," said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!" The Walrus did beseech. "A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, Along the briny beach: We cannot do with more than four, To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him, But never a word he said: The eldest Oyster winked his eye, And shook his heavy head— Meaning to say he did not choose To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up, All eager for the treat: Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, Their shoes were clean and neat— And this was odd, because, you know, They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them And yet another four; And thick and fast they came at last, And more, and more, and more— All hopping through the frothy waves, And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Walked on a mile or so, And then they rested on a rock Conveniently low: And all the little Oysters stood And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— Of cabbages—and kings— And why the sea is boiling hot— And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried, "Before we have our chat; For some of us are out of breath, And all of us are fat!" "No hurry!" said the Carpenter. They thanked him much for that
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said, "Is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides Are very good indeed— Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear, We can begin to feed."
"But not on us!" the Oysters cried, Turning a little blue. "After such kindness, that would be A dismal thing to do!" "The night is fine," the Walrus said, "Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come! And you are very nice!" The Carpenter said nothing but "Cut us another slice. I wish you were not quite so deaf— I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said, "To play them such a trick. After we've brought them out so far, And made them trot so quick!" The Carpenter said nothing but "The butter's spread too thick!"
"I weep for you," the Walrus said: "I deeply sympathize." With sobs and tears he sorted out Those of the largest size, Holding his pocket-handkerchief Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?" But answer came there none— And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one. Lewis Carroll.
A LOBSTER QUADRILLE
"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail, "There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail. See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance! They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?
"You can really have no notion how delightful it will be When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!" But the snail replied, "Too far, too far!" and gave a look askance— Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.
"What matters it how far we go?" his scaly friend replied, "There is another shore, you know, upon the other side. The further off from England the nearer is to France— Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance. Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?" Lewis Carroll.
He is a roguish little elf, A gay audacious fellow, Who tramps about in doublet green And skirt of brightest yellow; In ev'ry field, by ev'ry road, He peeps among the grasses, And shows his sunny little face To ev'ry one that passes.
Within the churchyard he is seen, Beside the headstones peeping, And shining like a golden star O'er some still form there sleeping; Beside the house door oft he springs, In all his wanton straying, And children shout in laughing glee To find him in their playing.
At eve he dons his nightgown green, And goes to bed right early, At morn, he spreads his yellow skirts To catch the dewdrops pearly; A darling elf is Dandelion, A roguish wanton sweeting; Yet he is loved by ev'ry child, All give him joyous greeting. Kate L. Brown.
The sun descending in the west, The evening star does shine; The birds are silent in their nest, And I must seek for mine. The moon, like a flower In heaven's high bower, With silent delight Sits and smiles on the night.
Farewell, green fields and happy grove, Where flocks have ta'en delight; Where lambs have nibbled, silent move The feet of angels bright; Unseen they pour blessing, And joy without ceasing, On each bud and blossom, And each sleeping bosom.
They look in every thoughtless nest Where birds are cover'd warm, They visit caves of every beast, To keep them all from harm:— If they see any weeping That should have been sleeping They pour sleep on their head, And sit down by their bed. William Blake.
A LAUGHING SONG
When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, And the dimpling stream runs laughing by; When the air does laugh with our merry wit, And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;