Poems Every Child Should Know/Part II

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The Frost[edit]

by Hannah Flagg Gould

"Jack Frost," by Hannah Flagg Gould (1789-1865), is perhaps a hundred years old, but he is the same rollicking fellow to-day as of yore. The poem puts his merry pranks to the front and prepares the way for science to give him a true analysis.

    The Frost looked forth, one still, clear night,
    And whispered, "Now I shall be out of sight;
    So through the valley and over the height,
      In silence I'll take my way:
    I will not go on with that blustering train,
    The wind and the snow, the hail and the rain,
    Who make so much bustle and noise in vain,
      But I'll be as busy as they."

    Then he flew to the mountain and powdered its crest;
    He lit on the trees, and their boughs he dressed
    In diamond beads—and over the breast
      Of the quivering lake he spread
    A coat of mail, that it need not fear
    The downward point of many a spear
    That hung on its margin far and near,
      Where a rock could rear its head.

    He went to the windows of those who slept,
    And over each pane, like a fairy, crept;
    Wherever he breathed, wherever he slept,
      By the light of the moon were seen
    Most beautiful things--there were flowers and trees;
    There were bevies of birds and swarms of bees;
    There were cities with temples and towers, and these
      All pictured in silver sheen!

    But he did one thing that was hardly fair;
    He peeped in the cupboard, and finding there
    That all had forgotten for him to prepare--
     "Now just to set them a-thinking,
    I'll bite this basket of fruit," said he,
   "This costly pitcher I'll burst in three,
    And the glass of water they've left for me
      Shall tchich! to tell them I'm drinking."

The Owl[edit]

by Alfred Tennyson

    When cats run home and light is come,
      And dew is cold upon the ground,
    And the far-off stream is dumb,
      And the whirring sail goes round,
      And the whirring sail goes round;
        Alone and warming his five wits,
        The white owl in the belfry sits.

    When merry milkmaids click the latch,
      And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
    And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
      Twice or thrice his roundelay,
      Twice or thrice his roundelay;
        Alone and warming his five wits,
        The white owl in the belfry sits.

Little Billee[edit]

by William Makepeace Thackeray

"Little Billee," by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63), finds a place here because it carries a good lesson good-naturedly rendered. An accomplished teacher recommends it, and I recollect two young children in Chicago who sang it frequently for years without getting tired of it.

    There were three sailors of Bristol city
      Who took a boat and went to sea.
    But first with beef and captain's biscuits
      And pickled pork they loaded she.

    There was gorging Jack and guzzling Jimmy,
      And the youngest he was little Billee.
    Now when they got so far as the Equator
      They'd nothing left but one split pea.

    Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
     "I am extremely hungaree."
    To gorging Jack says guzzling Jimmy,
     "We've nothing left, us must eat we."

    Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
     "With one another, we shouldn't agree!
    There's little Bill, he's young and tender,
      We're old and tough, so let's eat he."

   "Oh! Billy, we're going to kill and eat you,
      So undo the button of your chemie."
    When Bill received this information
      He used his pocket-handkerchie.

   "First let me say my catechism,
      Which my poor mammy taught to me."
   "Make haste, make haste," says guzzling Jimmy
      While Jack pulled out his snickersnee.

    So Billy went up to the main-topgallant mast,
      And down he fell on his bended knee.
    He scarce had come to the Twelfth Commandment
      When up he jumps, "There's land I see.

   "Jerusalem and Madagascar,
      And North and South Amerikee:
    There's the British flag a-riding at anchor,
      With Admiral Napier, K.C.B."

    So when they got aboard of the Admiral's
      He hanged fat Jack and flogged Jimmee;
    But as for little Bill, he made him
      The Captain of a Seventy-three.

The Butterfly and the Bee[edit]

by William Lisle Bowles

"The Butterfly and the Bee," by William Lisle Bowles (1762-1850), is recommended by some school-girls. It carries a lesson in favour of the worker.

    Methought I heard a butterfly
      Say to a labouring bee:
   "Thou hast no colours of the sky
      On painted wings like me."

   "Poor child of vanity! those dyes,
      And colours bright and rare,"
    With mild reproof, the bee replies,
     "Are all beneath my care.

   "Content I toil from morn to eve,
      And scorning idleness,
    To tribes of gaudy sloth I leave
      The vanity of dress."

An Incident of the French Camp[edit]

by Robert Browning

"An Incident of the French Camp," by Robert Browning (1812-89), is included in this volume out of regard to a boy of eight years who did not care for many poems, but this one stirred his heart to its depths.

    You know, we French storm'd Ratisbon:
      A mile or so away
    On a little mound, Napoleon
      Stood on our storming-day;
    With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,
      Legs wide, arms lock'd behind,
    As if to balance the prone brow
      Oppressive with its mind.

    Just as perhaps he mus'd "My plans
      That soar, to earth may fall,
    Let once my army leader Lannes
      Waver at yonder wall,"--
    Out 'twixt the battery smokes there flew
      A rider, bound on bound
    Full-galloping; nor bridle drew
      Until he reach'd the mound.

    Then off there flung in smiling joy,
      And held himself erect
    By just his horse's mane, a boy:
      You hardly could suspect--
    (So tight he kept his lips compress'd,
      Scarce any blood came through)
    You look'd twice ere you saw his breast
      Was all but shot in two.

   "Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
      We've got you Ratisbon!
    The Marshal's in the market-place,
      And you'll be there anon
    To see your flag-bird flap his vans
      Where I, to heart's desire,
    Perched him!" The chief's eye flashed; his plans
      Soared up again like fire.

    The chief's eye flashed; but presently
      Softened itself, as sheathes
    A film the mother-eagle's eye
      When her bruised eaglet breathes;
   "You're wounded!" "Nay," the soldier's pride
      Touched to the quick, he said:
   "I'm killed, Sire!" And his chief beside,
      Smiling the boy fell dead.

Robert of Lincoln[edit]

by William Cullen Bryant

"Robert of Lincoln," by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), is one of the finest bird poems ever written. It finds a place here because I have seen it used effectively as a memory gem in the Cook County Normal School (Colonel Parker's school), year after year, and because my own pupils invariably like to commit it to memory. With the child of six to the student of twenty years it stands a source of delight.

    Merrily swinging on brier and weed,
      Near to the nest of his little dame,
    Over the mountain-side or mead,
      Robert of Lincoln is telling his name.
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    Snug and safe is this nest of ours,
    Hidden among the summer flowers.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Robert of Lincoln is gayly dressed,
      Wearing a bright, black wedding-coat;
    White are his shoulders, and white his crest,
      Hear him call in his merry note,
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    Look what a nice, new coat is mine;
    Sure there was never a bird so fine.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife,
      Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,
    Passing at home a patient life,
      Broods in the grass while her husband sings,
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    Brood, kind creature, you need not fear
    Thieves and robbers while I am here.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Modest and shy as a nun is she;
      One weak chirp is her only note;
    Braggart, and prince of braggarts is he,
      Pouring boasts from his little throat,
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    Never was I afraid of man,
    Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Six white eggs on a bed of hay,
      Flecked with purple, a pretty sight:
    There as the mother sits all day,
      Robert is singing with all his might,
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    Nice good wife that never goes out,
    Keeping house while I frolic about.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Soon as the little ones chip the shell,
      Six wide mouths are open for food;
    Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well,
      Gathering seeds for the hungry brood:
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    This new life is likely to be
    Hard for a gay young fellow like me.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Robert of Lincoln at length is made
      Sober with work, and silent with care,
    Off is his holiday garment laid,
      Half forgotten that merry air,
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    Nobody knows but my mate and I,
    Where our nest and our nestlings lie.
          Chee, chee, chee.

    Summer wanes; the children are grown;
      Fun and frolic no more he knows;
    Robert of Lincoln's a hum-drum drone;
      Off he flies, and we sing as he goes,
          Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
          Spink, spank, spink,
    When you can pipe that merry old strain,
    Robert of Lincoln, come back again.
          Chee, chee, chee.

Old Grimes[edit]

by Albert Gorton Greene

"Old Grimes" is an heirloom, an antique gem. We learn it as a matter of course for its sparkle and glow.

    Old Grimes is dead; that good old man,
      We ne'er shall see him more;
    He used to wear a long, black coat,
      All buttoned down before.

    His heart was open as the day,
      His feelings all were true;
    His hair was some inclined to gray,
      He wore it in a queue.

    He lived at peace with all mankind,
      In friendship he was true;
    His coat had pocket-holes behind,
      His pantaloons were blue.

    He modest merit sought to find,
      And pay it its desert;
    He had no malice in his mind,
      No ruffles on his shirt.

    His neighbours he did not abuse,
      Was sociable and gay;
    He wore large buckles on his shoes,
      And changed them every day.

    His knowledge, hid from public gaze,
      He did not bring to view,
    Nor make a noise town-meeting days,
      As many people do.

    His worldly goods he never threw
      In trust to fortune's chances,
    But lived (as all his brothers do)
      In easy circumstances.

    Thus undisturbed by anxious cares
      His peaceful moments ran;
    And everybody said he was
      A fine old gentleman.

Song of Life[edit]

by Charles MacKay

    A traveller on a dusty road
      Strewed acorns on the lea;
    And one took root and sprouted up,
      And grew into a tree.
    Love sought its shade at evening-time,
      To breathe its early vows;
    And Age was pleased, in heights of noon,
      To bask beneath its boughs.
    The dormouse loved its dangling twigs,
      The birds sweet music bore--
    It stood a glory in its place,
      A blessing evermore.

    A little spring had lost its way
      Amid the grass and fern;
    A passing stranger scooped a well
      Where weary men might turn.
    He walled it in, and hung with care
      A ladle on the brink;
    He thought not of the deed he did,
      But judged that Toil might drink.
    He passed again; and lo! the well,
      By summer never dried,
    Had cooled ten thousand parchéd tongues,
      And saved a life beside.

    A nameless man, amid the crowd
      That thronged the daily mart,
    Let fall a word of hope and love,
      Unstudied from the heart,
    A whisper on the tumult thrown,
      A transitory breath,
    It raised a brother from the dust,
      It saved a soul from death.
    O germ! O fount! O word of love!
      O thought at random cast!
    Ye were but little at the first,
      But mighty at the last.

Fairy Song[edit]

by John Keats

    Shed no tear! O shed no tear!
    The flower will bloom another year.
    Weep no more! O, weep no more!
    Young buds sleep in the root's white core.
    Dry your eyes! Oh! dry your eyes!
    For I was taught in Paradise
    To ease my breast of melodies--
            Shed no tear.

    Overhead! look overhead!
   'Mong the blossoms white and red--
    Look up, look up. I flutter now
    On this flush pomegranate bough.
    See me! 'tis this silvery bell
    Ever cures the good man's ill.
    Shed no tear! O, shed no tear!
    The flowers will bloom another year.
    Adieu, adieu--I fly, adieu,
    I vanish in the heaven's blue--
            Adieu, adieu!

A Boy's Song[edit]

by James Hogg

"A Boy's Song," by James Hogg (1770-1835), is a sparkling poem, very attractive to children.

    Where the pools are bright and deep,
    Where the gray trout lies asleep,
    Up the river and o'er the lea,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Where the blackbird sings the latest,
    Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
    Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
    Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
    There to trace the homeward bee,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Where the hazel bank is steepest,
    Where the shadow falls the deepest,
    Where the clustering nuts fall free.
    That's the way for Billy and me.

    Why the boys should drive away,
    Little sweet maidens from the play,
    Or love to banter and fight so well,
    That's the thing I never could tell.

    But this I know, I love to play,
    Through the meadow, among the hay;
    Up the water and o'er the lea,
    That's the way for Billy and me.

Buttercups and Daisies[edit]

by Mary Howitt

    Buttercups and daisies,
      Oh, the pretty flowers,
    Coming ere the spring time,
      To tell of sunny hours.
    While the tree are leafless,
      While the fields are bare,
    Buttercups and daisies
      Spring up here and there.

    Ere the snowdrop peepeth,
      Ere the crocus bold,
    Ere the early primrose
      Opes its paly gold,
    Somewhere on the sunny bank
      Buttercups are bright;
    Somewhere 'mong the frozen grass
      Peeps the daisy white.

    Little hardy flowers,
      Like to children poor,
    Playing in their sturdy health
      By their mother's door,
    Purple with the north wind,
      Yet alert and bold;
    Fearing not, and caring not,
      Though they be a-cold!

    What to them is winter!
      What are stormy showers!
    Buttercups and daisies
      Are these human flowers!
    He who gave them hardships
      And a life of care,
    Gave them likewise hardy strength
      And patient hearts to bear.

The Rainbow[edit]

by Thomas Campbell

    Triumphal arch, that fills the sky
      When storms prepare to part,
    I ask not proud Philosophy
      To teach me what thou art.

    Still seem, as to my childhood's sight,
      A midway station given,
    For happy spirits to alight,
      Betwixt the earth and heaven.

Old Ironsides[edit]

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Written on September 16, 1830, as a tribute to the frigate USS Constitution. Thanks in part to the poem, it was saved from being decommissioned, and is now the oldest commissioned warship in the world still afloat.

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
    Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
    That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
    And burst the cannon's roar;
The meteor of the ocean air
    Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
    Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
    And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
    Or know the conquered knee;
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
    The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered bulk
    Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
    And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
    Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
    The lightning and the gale!

Little Orphan Annie[edit]

by James Whitcomb Riley

  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

  Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
  An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
  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

  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

  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' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
  Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
   Ef you

O Captain! My Captain![edit]

by Walt Whitman

"O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman (1819-92), is placed here out of compliment to a little boy aged ten who wanted to recite it once a week for a year. This song and Edwin Markham's poem on Lincoln are two of the greatest tributes ever paid to that hero.

    O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
    The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
      But O heart! heart! heart!
        O the bleeding drops of red,
          Where on the deck my Captain lies,
            Fallen cold and dead.

    O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
    Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills,
    For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding,
    For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
      Here Captain! dear father!
        This arm beneath your head!
          It is some dream that on the deck
            You've fallen cold and dead.

    My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
    My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will.
    The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
    From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
      Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
        But I, with mournful tread,
          Walk the deck my Captain lies,
            Fallen cold and dead. .


by William Shakespeare

"Ingratitude," by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), is an incisive thrust at a refined vice. It is a part of education to learn to be grateful.

    Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
    Thou are not so unkind
      As man's ingratitude;
    Thy tooth is not so keen
    Because thou are not seen,
      Although thy breath be rude.

    Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
    Thou dost not bite so nigh
      As benefits forgot;
    Though thou the waters warp,
    Thy sting is not so sharp
      As friend remembered not.

The Ivy Green[edit]

by Charles Dickens

"The Ivy Green," by Charles Dickens (1812-70), is a hardy poem in honour of a hardy plant. There is a wonderful ivy growing at Rhudlan,in northern Wales. Its roots are so large and strong that they form a comfortable seat for many persons, and no one can remember when they were smaller. This ivy envelops a great castle in ruins. Every child in that locality loves the old ivy. It is typical of the ivy as seen all through Wales and England.

    O, a dainty plant is the ivy green,
      That creepeth o'er ruins old!
    Of right choice food are his meals, I ween,
      In his cell so lone and cold.
    The walls must be crumbled, the stones decayed.
      To pleasure his dainty whim;
    And the mouldering dust that years have made
      Is a merry meal for him.
            Creeping where no life is seen,
            A rare old plant is the ivy green.

    Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings,
      And a staunch old heart has he!
    How closely he twineth, how tight he clings
      To his friend, the huge oak tree!
    And slyly he traileth along the ground,
      And his leaves he gently waves,
    And he joyously twines and hugs around
      The rich mould of dead men's graves.
            Creeping where no life is seen,
            A rare old plant is the ivy green.

    Whole ages have fled, and their works decayed,
      And nations have scattered been;
    But the stout old ivy shall never fade
      From its hale and hearty green.
    The brave old plant in its lonely days
      Shall fatten upon the past;
    For the stateliest building man can raise
      Is the ivy's food at last.
            Creeping where no life is seen,
            A rare old plant is the ivy green.

The Noble Nature[edit]

by Ben Jonson

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make Man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
        A lily of a day
        Is fairer far in May,
    Although it fall and die that night—
    It was the plant and flower of Light
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

The Flying Squirrel[edit]

by Mary E. Burt

"The Flying Squirrel" is an honest account of a live creature that won his way into scores of hearts by his mad pranks and affectionate ways. It is enough that John Burroughs has commended the poem.

    Of all the woodland creatures,
      The quaintest little sprite
    Is the dainty flying squirrel
      In vest of shining white,
    In coat of silver gray,
      And vest of shining white.

    His furry Quaker jacket
      Is trimmed with stripe of black;
    A furry plume to match it
      Is curling o'er his back;
    New curved with every motion,
      His plume curls o'er his back.

    No little new-born baby
      Has pinker feet than he;
    Each tiny toe is cushioned
      With velvet cushions three;
    Three wee, pink, velvet cushions
      Almost too small to see.

    Who said, "The foot of baby
      Might tempt an angel's kiss"?
    I know a score of school-boys
      Who put their lips to this,--
    This wee foot of the squirrel,
      And left a loving kiss.

    The tiny thief has hidden
      My candy and my plum;
    Ah, there he comes unbidden
      To gently nip my thumb,--
    Down in his home (my pocket)
      He gently nips my thumb.

    How strange the food he covets,
      The restless, restless wight;--
    Fred's old stuffed armadillo
      He found a tempting bite,
    Fred's old stuffed armadillo,
      With ears a perfect fright.

    The Lady Ruth's great bureau,
      Each foot a dragon's paw!
    The midget ate the nails from
      His famous antique claw.
    Oh, what a cruel beastie
      To hurt a dragon's claw!

    To autographic copies
      Upon my choicest shelf,--
    To every dainty volume
      The rogue has helped himself.
    My books! Oh dear! No matter!
      The rogue has helped himself.

    And yet, my little squirrel,
      Your taste is not so bad;
    You've swallowed Caird completely
      And psychologic Ladd.
    Rosmini you've digested,
      And Kant in rags you've clad.

    Gnaw on, my elfish rodent!
      Lay all the sages low!
    My pretty lace and ribbons,
      They're yours for weal or woe!
    My pocket-book's in tatters
      Because you like it so.

Warren's Address[edit]

by John Pierpont

"The Flying Squirrel" is an honest account of a live creature that wonhis way into scores of hearts by his mad pranks and affectionate ways. It is enough that John Burroughs has commended the poem.

    Of all the woodland creatures,
      The quaintest little sprite
    Is the dainty flying squirrel
      In vest of shining white,
    In coat of silver gray,
      And vest of shining white.

    His furry Quaker jacket
      Is trimmed with stripe of black;
    A furry plume to match it
      Is curling o'er his back;
    New curved with every motion,
      His plume curls o'er his back.

    No little new-born baby
      Has pinker feet than he;
    Each tiny toe is cushioned
      With velvet cushions three;
    Three wee, pink, velvet cushions
      Almost too small to see.

    Who said, "The foot of baby
      Might tempt an angel's kiss"?
    I know a score of school-boys
      Who put their lips to this,--
    This wee foot of the squirrel,
      And left a loving kiss.

    The tiny thief has hidden
      My candy and my plum;
    Ah, there he comes unbidden
      To gently nip my thumb,--
    Down in his home (my pocket)
      He gently nips my thumb.

    How strange the food he covets,
      The restless, restless wight;--
    Fred's old stuffed armadillo
      He found a tempting bite,
    Fred's old stuffed armadillo,
      With ears a perfect fright.

    The Lady Ruth's great bureau,
      Each foot a dragon's paw!
    The midget ate the nails from
      His famous antique claw.
    Oh, what a cruel beastie
      To hurt a dragon's claw!

    To autographic copies
      Upon my choicest shelf,--
    To every dainty volume
      The rogue has helped himself.
    My books! Oh dear! No matter!
      The rogue has helped himself.

    And yet, my little squirrel,
      Your taste is not so bad;
    You've swallowed Caird completely
      And psychologic Ladd.
    Rosmini you've digested,
      And Kant in rags you've clad.

    Gnaw on, my elfish rodent!
      Lay all the sages low!
    My pretty lace and ribbons,
      They're yours for weal or woe!
    My pocket-book's in tatters
      Because you like it so.

The Song in Camp[edit]

by Bayard Taylor

"The Song in Camp" is Bayard Taylor's best effort as far as young boys and girls are concerned. It is a most valuable poem. I once heard a clergyman in Chicago use it as a text for his sermon. Since then "Annie Laurie" has become the song of the Labour party. "The Song in Camp" voices a universal feeling. (1825-78.)

   "Give us a song!" the soldiers cried,
      The outer trenches guarding,
    When the heated guns of the camps allied
      Grew weary of bombarding.

    The dark Redan, in silent scoff,
      Lay, grim and threatening, under;
    And the tawny mound of the Malakoff
      No longer belched its thunder.

    There was a pause. A guardsman said,
     "We storm the forts to-morrow;
    Sing while we may, another day
      Will bring enough of sorrow."

    They lay along the battery's side,
      Below the smoking cannon:
    Brave hearts, from Severn and from Clyde,
      And from the banks of Shannon.

    They sang of love, and not of fame;
      Forgot was Britain's glory:
    Each heart recalled a different name,
      But all sang "Annie Laurie."

    Voice after voice caught up the song,
      Until its tender passion
    Rose like an anthem, rich and strong,--
      Their battle-eve confession.

    Dear girl, her name he dared not speak,
      But, as the song grew louder,
    Something upon the soldier's cheek
      Washed off the stains of powder.

    Beyond the darkening ocean burned
      The bloody sunset's embers,
    While the Crimean valleys learned
      How English love remembers.

    And once again a fire of hell
      Rained on the Russian quarters,
    With scream of shot, and burst of shell,
      And bellowing of the mortars!

    And Irish Nora's eyes are dim
      For a singer, dumb and gory;
    And English Mary mourns for him
      Who sang of "Annie Laurie."

    Sleep, soldiers! still in honoured rest
      Your truth and valour wearing:
    The bravest are the tenderest,--
      The loving are the daring.

The Bugle Song[edit]

by Alfred Tennyson

"The Bugle Song" (by Alfred Tennyson, 1809-90), says Heydrick, "has for its central theme the undying power of human love. The music is notable for sweetness and delicacy."

    The splendour falls on castle walls
      And snowy summits old in story:
    The long light shakes across the lakes
      And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
    Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
    Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

    O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
      And thinner, clearer, farther going!
    O sweet and far from cliff and scar
      The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
    Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
    Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

    O love, they die in yon rich sky,
      They faint on hill or field or river:
    Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
      And grow forever and forever.
    Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
    And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

The Three Bells of Glasgow[edit]

by John G. Whittier

"The Three Bells of Glasgow," by Whittier (1807-92), cannot be praised too highly for its ethical value. Children always love to learn it after hearing it read correctly and by one who understands and appreciates it. "Stand by" is the motto. My pupils teach it to me once a year and learn it themselves, too.

    Beneath the low-hung night cloud
      That raked her splintering mast
    The good ship settled slowly,
      The cruel leak gained fast.

    Over the awful ocean
      Her signal guns pealed out.
    Dear God! was that Thy answer
      From the horror round about?

    A voice came down the wild wind,
     "Ho! ship ahoy!" its cry:
   "Our stout _Three Bells_ of Glasgow
      Shall stand till daylight by!"

    Hour after hour crept slowly,
      Yet on the heaving swells
    Tossed up and down the ship-lights,
      The lights of the _Three Bells_!

    And ship to ship made signals,
      Man answered back to man,
    While oft, to cheer and hearten,
      The _Three Bells_ nearer ran:

    And the captain from her taffrail
      Sent down his hopeful cry.
   "Take heart! Hold on!" he shouted,
     "The _Three Bells_ shall stand by!"

    All night across the waters
      The tossing lights shone clear;
    All night from reeling taffrail
      The _Three Bells_ sent her cheer.

    And when the dreary watches
      Of storm and darkness passed,
    Just as the wreck lurched under,
      All souls were saved at last.

    Sail on, _Three Bells_, forever,
      In grateful memory sail!
    Ring on, _Three Bells_ of rescue,
      Above the wave and gale!

    Type of the Love eternal,
      Repeat the Master's cry,
    As tossing through our darkness
      The lights of God draw nigh!

Sheridan's Ride[edit]

by Thomas Buchanan Read

There never was a boy who did not like "Sheridan's Ride," by T. Buchanan Read (1822-72). The swing and gallop in it take every boy off from his feet. The children never teach this poem to me, because they love to learn it at first sight. It is easily memorised.

    Up from the South at break of day,
    Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
    The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
    Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain's door,
    The terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar,
    Telling the battle was on once more,
    And Sheridan twenty miles away.

    And wider still those billows of war
    Thundered along the horizon's bar;
    And louder yet into Winchester rolled
    The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
    Making the blood of the listener cold
    As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,
    And Sheridan twenty miles away.

    But there is a road from Winchester town,
    A good, broad highway leading down;
    And there, through the flush of the morning light,
    A steed as black as the steeds of night
    Was seen to pass as with eagle flight;
    As if he knew the terrible need,
    He stretched away with his utmost speed;
    Hills rose and fell; but his heart was gay,
    With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

    Still sprung from those swift hoofs, thundering South,
    The dust, like smoke from the cannon's mouth;
    Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster,
    Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster.
    The heart of the steed and the heart of the master
    Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,
    Impatient to be where the battle-field calls;
    Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,
    With Sheridan only ten miles away.

    Under his spurning feet the road
    Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,
    And the landscape sped away behind
    Like an ocean flying before the wind.
    And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace fire,
    Swept on, with his wild eye full of ire.
    But lo! he is nearing his heart's desire;
    He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
    With Sheridan only five miles away.

    The first that the General saw were the groups
    Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops.
    What was done--what to do? A glance told him both,
    Then striking his spurs, with a terrible oath,
    He dashed down the line, mid a storm of huzzas,
    And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because
    The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
    With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;
    By the flash of his eye, and the red nostrils' play,
    He seemed to the whole great army to say:
   "I have brought you Sheridan all the way
    From Winchester down to save the day!"

    Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!
    Hurrah! hurrah for horse and man!
    And when their statues are placed on high,
    Under the dome of the Union sky,
    The American soldiers' Temple of Fame,
    There with the glorious General's name
    Be it said, in letters both bold and bright:
   "Here is the steed that saved the day,
    By carrying Sheridan into the fight
    From Winchester, twenty miles away!"

The Sandpiper[edit]

by Celia Thaxter

"The Sandpiper," by Celia Thaxter (1836-94), is placed here because a goodly percentage of the children who read it want to learn it.

    Across the lonely beach we flit,
      One little sandpiper and I,
    And fast I gather, bit by bit,
      The scattered driftwood, bleached and dry.
    The wild waves reach their hands for it,
      The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,
    As up and down the beach we flit,
      One little sandpiper and I.

    Above our heads the sullen clouds
      Scud, black and swift, across the sky;
    Like silent ghosts in misty shrouds
      Stand out the white lighthouses high.
    Almost as far as eye can reach
      I see the close-reefed vessels fly,
    As fast we flit along the beach,
      One little sandpiper and I.

    I watch him as he skims along,
      Uttering his sweet and mournful cry;
    He starts not at my fitful song,
      Nor flash of fluttering drapery.
    He has no thought of any wrong,
      He scans me with a fearless eye;
    Stanch friends are we, well tried and strong,
      The little sandpiper and I.

    Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night,
      When the loosed storm breaks furiously?
    My driftwood fire will burn so bright!
      To what warm shelter canst thou fly?
    I do not fear for thee, though wroth
      The tempest rushes through the sky;
    For are we not God's children both,
      Thou, little sandpiper, and I?

Lady Clare[edit]

by Alfred Tennyson

Girls always love "Lady Clare" and "The Lord of Burleigh." They like to think that it is enough to be a splendid woman without title or wealth. They want to be loved, if they are loved at all, for their good hearts and graces of mind. Tennyson (1809-92) makes this point repeatedly through his poems.

    It was the time when lilies blow
      And clouds are highest up in air;
    Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe
      To give his cousin, Lady Clare.

    I trow they did not part in scorn:
      Lovers long-betroth'd were they:
    They too will wed the morrow morn:
      God's blessing on the day!

   "He does not love me for my birth,
      Nor for my lands so broad and fair;
    He loves me for my own true worth,
      And that is well," said Lady Clare.

    In there came old Alice the nurse;
      Said: "Who was this that went from thee?"
   "It was my cousin," said Lady Clare;
     "To-morrow he weds with me."

   "O God be thank'd!" said Alice the nurse,
     "That all comes round so just and fair:
    Lord Ronald is heir of all your lands,
      And you are not the Lady Clare."

   "Are ye out of your mind, my nurse, my nurse,"
      Said Lady Clare, "that ye speak so wild?"
   "As God's above," said Alice the nurse,
     "I speak the truth: you are my child.

   "The old Earl's daughter died at my breast;
      I speak the truth, as I live by bread!
    I buried her like my own sweet child,
      And put my child in her stead."

   "Falsely, falsely have ye done,
      O mother," she said, "if this be true,
    To keep the best man under the sun
      So many years from his due."

   "Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
     "But keep the secret for your life,
    And all you have will be Lord Ronald's
      When you are man and wife."

   "If I'm a beggar born," she said,
     "I will speak out, for I dare not lie.
    Pull off, pull off the brooch of gold,
      And fling the diamond necklace by."

   "Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
     "But keep the secret all ye can."
    She said: "Not so: but I will know
      If there be any faith in man."

   "Nay now, what faith?" said Alice the nurse,
     "The man will cleave unto his right,"
   "And he shall have it," the lady replied,
     "Tho' I should die to-night."

   "Yet give one kiss to your mother dear!
      Alas! my child, I sinn'd for thee."
   "O mother, mother, mother," she said,
     "So strange it seems to me.

   "Yet here's a kiss for my mother dear,
      My mother dear, if this be so,
    And lay your hand upon my head,
      And bless me, mother, ere I go."

    She clad herself in a russet gown,
      She was no longer Lady Clare:
    She went by dale, and she went by down,
      With a single rose in her hair.

    The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
      Leapt up from where she lay,
    Dropt her head in the maiden's hand,
      And follow'd her all the way.

    Down stept Lord Ronald from his tower:
     "O Lady Clare, you shame your worth!
    Why come you drest like a village maid,
      That are the flower of the earth?"

   "If I come drest like a village maid,
      I am but as my fortunes are:
    I am a beggar born," she said,
     "And not the Lady Clare."

   "Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
     "For I am yours in word and in deed.
    Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
     "Your riddle is hard to read."

    O and proudly stood she up!
      Her heart within her did not fail:
    She look'd into Lord Ronald's eyes,
      And told him all her nurse's tale.

    He laugh'd a laugh of merry scorn:
      He turn'd and kiss'd her where she stood:
   "If you are not the heiress born?
      And I," said he, "the next in blood--

   "If you are not the heiress born,
      And I," said he, "the lawful heir,
    We two will wed to-morrow morn,
      And you shall still be Lady Clare."

The Lord of Burleigh[edit]

by Alfred Tennyson

    In her ear he whispers gaily,
     "If my heart by signs can tell,
    Maiden, I have watched thee daily,
      And I think thou lov'st me well."
    She replies, in accents fainter,
     "There is none I love like thee."
    He is but a landscape-painter,
      And a village maiden she.

    He to lips, that fondly falter,
      Presses his without reproof;
    Leads her to the village altar,
      And they leave her father's roof.

   "I can make no marriage present;
      Little can I give my wife.
    Love will make our cottage pleasant,
      And I love thee more than life."

    They by parks and lodges going
      See the lordly castles stand;
    Summer woods, about them blowing,
      Made a murmur in the land.

    From deep thought himself he rouses,
      Says to her that loves him well,
   "Let us see these handsome houses
      Where the wealthy nobles dwell."

    So she goes by him attended,
      Hears him lovingly converse,
    Sees whatever fair and splendid
      Lay betwixt his home and hers.

    Parks with oak and chestnut shady,
      Parks and order'd gardens great,
    Ancient homes of lord and lady,
      Built for pleasure and for state.

    All he shows her makes him dearer;
      Evermore she seems to gaze
    On that cottage growing nearer,
      Where they twain will spend their days.

    O but she will love him truly!
      He shall have a cheerful home;
    She will order all things duly
      When beneath his roof they come.

    Thus her heart rejoices greatly
      Till a gateway she discerns
    With armorial bearings stately,
      And beneath the gate she turns;
    Sees a mansion more majestic
      Than all those she saw before;
    Many a gallant gay domestic
      Bows before him at the door.

    And they speak in gentle murmur
      When they answer to his call,
    While he treads with footstep firmer,
      Leading on from hall to hall.

    And while now she wanders blindly,
      Nor the meaning can divine,
    Proudly turns he round and kindly,
     "All of this is mine and thine."

    Here he lives in state and bounty,
      Lord of Burleigh, fair and free.
    Not a lord in all the county
      Is so great a lord as he.
    All at once the colour flushes
      Her sweet face from brow to chin;
    As it were with same she blushes,
      And her spirit changed within.

    Then her countenance all over
      Pale again as death did prove:
    But he clasp'd her like a lover,
      And he cheer'd her soul with love.

    So she strove against her weakness,
      Tho' at times her spirits sank;
    Shaped her heart with woman's meekness
      To all duties of her rank;
    And a gentle consort made he,
      And her gentle mind was such
    That she grew a noble lady,
      And the people loved her much.
    But a trouble weigh'd upon her
      And perplex'd her, night and morn,
    With the burden of an honour
      Unto which she was not born.

    Faint she grew and ever fainter.
      As she murmur'd, "Oh, that he
    Were once more that landscape-painter
      Which did win my heart from me!"

    So she droop'd and droop'd before him,
      Fading slowly from his side;
    Three fair children first she bore him,
      Then before her time she died.

    Weeping, weeping late and early,
      Walking up and pacing down,
    Deeply mourn'd the Lord of Burleigh,
      Burleigh-house by Stamford-town.

    And he came to look upon her,
      And he look'd at her and said,
   "Bring the dress and put it on her
      That she wore when she was wed."

    Then her people, softly treading,
      Bore to earth her body, drest
    In the dress that she was wed in,
      That her spirit might have rest.

Hiawatha's Childhood[edit]

by Henry W. Longfellow

Downward through the evening twilight,
In the days that are forgotten,
In the unremembered ages,
From the full moon fell Nokomis,
Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
She a wife, but not a mother.

     She was sporting with her women,
Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,
When her rival the rejected,
Full of jealousy and hatred,
Cut the leafy swing asunder,
Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
And Nokomis fell affrighted
Downward through the evening twilight,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
On the prairie full of blossoms.
‘See! a star falls!’ said the people;
‘From the sky a star is falling!’

     There among the ferns and mosses,
There among the prairie lilies,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
In the moonlight and the starlight,
Fair Nokomis bore a daughter.
And she called her name Wenonah,
As the first-born of her daughters.
And the daughter of Nokomis
Grew up like the prairie lilies,
Grew a tall and slender maiden
With the beauty of the moonlight,
With the beauty of the starlight.

     And Nokomis warned her often,
Saying oft, and oft repeating,
‘Oh, beware of Mudjekeewis,
Of the West-Wind, Mudjekeewis;
Listen not to what he tells you;
Lie not down upon the meadow,
Stoop not down among the lilies,
Lest the West-Wind come and harm you!’

     But she heeded not the warning,
Heeded not those words of wisdom,
And the West-Wind came at evening,
Walking lightly o’er the prairie,
Whispering to the leaves and blossoms,
Bending low the flowers and grasses,
Found the beautiful Wenonah,
Lying there among the lilies,
Wooed her with his words of sweetness,
Wooed her with his soft caresses,
Till she bore a son of love and sorrow.

     Thus was born my Hiawatha,
Thus was born the child of wonder;
But the daughter of Nokomis,
Hiawatha’s gentle mother,
In her anguish died deserted
By the West-Wind, false and faithless,
By the heartless Mudjekeewis.

     For her daughter long and loudly
Wailed and wept the sad Nokomis;
‘Oh that I were dead!’ she murmured,
‘Oh that I were dead, as thou art!
No more work, and no more weeping,
Wahonowin! Wahonowin!’

     By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis,
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

     There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
‘Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!’
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
‘Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!’

     Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of Winter;
Showed the broad white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.

     At the door on sumer evenings
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
‘Minne-wawa!’ said the pine-trees,
‘Mudway-aushka!’ said the water.

     Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
‘Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!’

     Saw the moon rise from the water
Rippling, rounding from the water,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, ‘What is that, Nokomis?’
And the good Nokomis answered:
‘Once a warrior, very angry,
Seized his grandmother, and threw her
Up into the sky at midnight;
Right against the moon he threw her;
’T is her body that you see there.’

     Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
Whispered, ‘What is that, Nokomis?’
And the good Nokomis answered:
‘’T is the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild-flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the prairie,
When on earth they fade and perish,
Blossom in that heaven above us.’

     When he heard the owls at midnight
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
‘What is that?’ he cried in terror,
‘What is that,’ he said, ‘Nokomis?’
And the good Nokomis answered:
‘That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other.’

     Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird in its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in Summer,
Where they hid themselves in Winter,
Talked with them whene’er he met them,
Called them ‘Hiawatha’s Chickens.’

     Of all beasts he learned the language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How the beavers built their lodges,
Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
Why the rabbit was so timid,
Talked with them whene’er he met them,
Called them ‘Hiawatha’s Brothers.’

     Then Iagoo, the great boaster,
He the marvellous story-teller,
He the traveller and the talker,
He the friend of old Nokomis,
Made a bow for Hiawatha;
From a branch of ash he made it,
From an oak-bough made the arrows,
Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers,
And the cord he made of deer-skin.

     Then he said to Hiawatha:
‘Go, my son, into the forest,
Where the red deer herd together,
Kill for us a famous roebuck,
Kill for us a deer with antlers!’

     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 bluebird, 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 path-way
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 path-way,
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 path-way.

     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 to his honor.
All the village came and feasted,
All the guests praised Hiawatha,
Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-getaha!
Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-gotaysee!

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud[edit]

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

John Barleycorn[edit]

by Robert Burns

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.

His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o'er and o'er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.

They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.

'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy;
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho' the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

A Life on the Ocean Wave[edit]

by Epes Sargent

    A life on the ocean wave,
      A home on the rolling deep,
    Where the scattered waters rave,
      And the winds their revels keep!
    Like an eagle caged, I pine
      On this dull, unchanging shore:
    Oh! give me the flashing brine,
      The spray and the tempest's roar!

    Once more on the deck I stand
      Of my own swift-gliding craft:
    Set sail! farewell to the land!
      The gale follows fair abaft.
    We shoot through the sparkling foam
      Like an ocean-bird set free;--
    Like the ocean-bird, our home
      We'll find far out on the sea.

    The land is no longer in view,
      The clouds have begun to frown;
    But with a stout vessel and crew,
      We'll say, Let the storm come down!
    And the song of our hearts shall be,
      While the winds and the waters rave,
    A home on the rolling sea!
      A life on the ocean wave!

The Death of the Old Year[edit]

by Alfred Tennyson

It is customary, every New Year's eve in America, to ring bells, fire guns, send up rockets, and, in many other ways, to show joy and gratitude that the old year has been so kind, and that the new year is so auspicious. The emphasis in Tennyson's poem is laid on gratitude for past benefits so easily forgotten rather than upon the possible advantages of the unknown and untried future.

    Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
    And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
    Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow,
    And tread softly and speak low,
    For the old year lies a-dying.
        Old year, you must not die;
        You came to us so readily,
        You lived with us so steadily,
        Old year, you shall not die.

    He lieth still: he doth not move:
    He will not see the dawn of day.
    He hath no other life above.
    He gave me a friend, and a true true-love,
    And the New-year will take 'em away.
        Old year, you must not go;
        So long as you have been with us,
        Such joy as you have seen with us,
        Old year, you shall not go.

    He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
    A jollier year we shall not see.
    But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,
    And tho' his foes speak ill of him,
    He was a friend to me.
        Old year, you shall not die;
        We did so laugh and cry with you,
        I've half a mind to die with you,
        Old year, if you must die.

    He was full of joke and jest,
    But all his merry quips are o'er.
    To see him die, across the waste
    His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
    But he'll be dead before.
        Every one for his own.
        The night is starry and cold, my friend,
        And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
        Comes up to take his own.

    How hard he breathes! over the snow
    I heard just now the crowing cock.
    The shadows flicker to and fro:
    The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
   'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
        Shake hands, before you die.
        Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
        What is it we can do for you?
        Speak out before you die.

    His face is growing sharp and thin.
    Alack! our friend is gone.
    Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
    Step from the corpse, and let him in
    That standeth there alone,
        And waiteth at the door.
        There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
        And a new face at the door, my friend,
        A new face at the door.

Abou Ben Adhem[edit]

by Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight of his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:-

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
'What writest thou?' - The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered 'The names of those who love the Lord.'

'And is mine one?' said Abou. 'Nay, not so,'
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said 'I pray thee then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.'

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names who love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Farm-Yard Song[edit]

by John Townsend Trowbridge "A Farm-Yard Song" was popular years ago with Burbank, the great reader. How the boys and girls loved it! The author, John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916), "is a boy-hearted man," says John Burroughs. The poem is just as popular as it ever was.

    Over the hill the farm-boy goes,
    His shadow lengthens along the land,
    A giant staff in a giant hand;
    In the poplar-tree, above the spring,
    The katydid begins to sing;
        The early dews are falling;--
    Into the stone-heap darts the mink;
    The swallows skim the river's brink;
    And home to the woodland fly the crows,
    When over the hill the farm-boy goes,
        Cheerily calling,--
     "Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
    Farther, farther over the hill,
    Faintly calling, calling still,--
     "Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"

    Into the yard the farmer goes,
    With grateful heart, at the close of day;
    Harness and chain are hung away;
    In the wagon-shed stand yoke and plow;
    The straw's in the stack, the hay in the mow;
        The cooling dews are falling;--
    The friendly sheep his welcome bleat,
    The pigs come grunting to his feet,
    The whinnying mare her master knows,
    When into the yard the farmer goes,
        His cattle calling,--
     "Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
    While still the cow-boy, far away,
    Goes seeking those that have gone astray,--
     "Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"

    Now to her task the milkmaid goes.
    The cattle come crowding through the gate,
    Lowing, pushing, little and great;
    About the trough, by the farm-yard pump,
    The frolicsome yearlings frisk and jump,
        While the pleasant dews are falling;--
    The new-milch heifer is quick and shy,
    But the old cow waits with tranquil eye;
    And the white stream into the bright pail flows,
    When to her task the milkmaid goes,
        Soothingly calling,--
     "So, boss! so, boss! so! so! so!"
    The cheerful milkmaid takes her stool,
    And sits and milks in the twilight cool,
      Saying, "So! so, boss! so! so!"

    To supper at last the farmer goes.
    The apples are pared, the paper read,
    The stories are told, then all to bed.
    Without, the crickets' ceaseless song
    Makes shrill the silence all night long;
        The heavy dews are falling.
    The housewife's hand has turned the lock;
    Drowsily ticks the kitchen clock;
    The household sinks to deep repose;
    But still in sleep the farm-boy goes.
        Singing, calling,--
     "Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
    And oft the milkmaid, in her dreams,
    Drums in the pail with the flashing streams,
      Murmuring, "So, boss! so!"

To a Mouse[edit]

by Robert Burns
Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

To a Mountain Daisy[edit]

by Robert Burns

    Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower,
    Thou's met me in an evil hour;
    For I maun crush amang the stoure
          Thy slender stem:
    To spare thee now is past my power,
          Thou bonny gem.

    Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet,
    The bonny lark, companion meet,
    Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
          Wi' speckled breast,
    When upward-springing, blithe, to greet
          The purpling east!

    Cauld blew the bitter biting north
    Upon thy early, humble birth;
    Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
          Amid the storm,
    Scarce reared above the parent earth
          Thy tender form.

    The flaunting flowers our gardens yield,
    High sheltering woods and wa's maun shield,
    But thou, beneath the random bield
          O' clod or stane,
    Adorns the histie stibble-field,
          Unseen, alane.

    There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
    Thy snawie bosom sunward spread,
    Thou lifts thy unassuming head
          In humble guise;
    But now the share uptears thy bed,
          And low thou lies!

    Such is the fate of artless maid,
    Sweet floweret of the rural shade!
    By love's simplicity betrayed,
          And guileless trust,
    Till she, like thee, all soiled, is laid
          Low i' the dust.

    Such is the fate of simple bard,
    On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
    Unskilful he to note the card
          Of prudent lore,
    Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
          And whelm him o'er!

    Such fate to suffering worth is given,
    Who long with wants and woes has striven,
    By human pride or cunning driven
          To misery's brink,
    Till wrenched of every stay but Heaven,
          He, ruined, sink!

    Even thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
    That fate is thine--no distant date;
    Stern Ruin's plowshare drives, elate,
          Full on thy bloom,
    Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight
          Shall be thy doom.

Barbara Frietchie[edit]

by John G. Wittier

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,

Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall;

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet,

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.

'Halt!' - the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
'Fire!' - out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

'Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag,' she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word;

'Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!' he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids nor more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewalls' bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!