O TO BE AN OSTRICH

O TO BE AN OSTRICH

The ostrich
like Shakespeare
believes there is nothing
good or bad
but thinking
makes it so.

All problems
he has found
by taking his head
out of the ground
and looking
for them.

The solving
obviously
is a matter of foot
going faster than thought
to avoid
being caught.

Such logic
of conscience
may well be envied—
for who can dispute
what can not be questioned
or proved?

— Elizabeth Bartlett

THERE CAME TO MY WINDOW

There came to my window one morning in Spring
A sweet little Robin; she came there to sing.
The tune that she sang, it was prettier far
Than any I heard on the flute or guitar.

Her wings she was spreading to soar far away,
Then resting a moment seemed sweetly to say:
“Oh happy, how happy the world seems to be!
Awake, Little Girl and be happy with me!”

But just as she finished her beautiful song,
A thoughtless young man with a gun came along.
He killed and he carried my sweet bird away,
She no more will sing at the dawn of the day.

— Anonymous

THE OYSTER

Two halves of an oyster shell, each a shallow cup;
Here once lived an oyster before they ate him up.
Oyster shells are smooth inside; outside very rough;
Very little room to spare, but he had enough.
Bedroom, parlor, kitchen, or cellar there was none;
Just one room in all the house—oysters need but one.
And he was never troubled by wind or rain or snow,
For he had a roof above, another one below.
I wonder if they fried him, or cooked him in a stew,
And sold him at a fair, and passed him off for two.
I wonder if the oysters all have names like us,
And did he have a name like “John” or “Romulus”?
I wonder if his parents wept to see him go;
I wonder who can tell; perhaps the mermaids know.
I wonder if our sleep the most of us would dread,
If we slept like oysters, a million in a bed!

— Arthur Macy

THE FERN SONG

THE FERN SONG

Dance to the beat of the rain, little Fern,
And spread out your palms again,
And say, “Tho’ the Sun
Hath my vesture spun,
He hath labored, alas, in vain,
But for the shade
That the Cloud hath made,
And the gift of the Dew and the Rain.”
Then laugh and upturn
All your fronds, little Fern,
And rejoice in the beat of the rain!

John Bannister Tabb

FRAIDIE-CAT

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

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.

— —Charles Kingsley

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.

—Mary Howitt

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.

— Helen Hunt Jackson

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.

—William Wordsworth

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!

— Robert Louis Stevenson

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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.

— Henry W. Longfellow

Dandelion

There’s a dandy little fellow,
Who dresses all in yellow,
In yellow with an overcoat of green;
With his hair all crisp and curly,
In the springtime bright and early
A-tripping o’er the meadow he is seen.
Through all the bright June weather,
Like a jolly little tramp,
He wanders o’er the hillside, down the road;
Around his yellow feather,
Thy gypsy fireflies camp;
His companions are the woodlark and the toad.

But at last this little fellow
Doffs his dainty coat of yellow,
And very feebly totters o’er the green;
For he very old is growing
And with hair all white and flowing,
A-nodding in the sunlight he is seen.
Oh, poor dandy, once so spandy,
Golden dancer on the lea!
Older growing, white hair flowing,
Poor little baldhead dandy now is he!

— Nellie M. Garabrant

Be Strong

Be strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle—face it; ’tis God’s gift.

Be strong!
Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”
And fold the hands and acquiesce—oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.

Be strong!
It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong.
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not—fight on! To-morrow comes the song.

— Maltbie Davenport Babcock

The Fox

A fox looked at his shadow at sunrise and said, “I will have a camel for lunch today.” And all morning he went about looking for camels. But at noon he saw his shadow again—and he said, “A mouse will do.”

— Khalil Gibran

The Tree

The Tree’s early leaf buds were bursting their brown;
“Shall I take them away?” said the Frost, sweeping down.
“No, leave them alone
Till the blossoms have grown,”
Prayed the Tree, while he trembled from rootlet to crown.

The Tree bore his blossoms, and all the birds sung:
“Shall I take them away?” said the Wind, as he swung,
“No, leave them alone
Till the blossoms have grown,”
Said the Tree, while his leaflets quivering hung.

The Tree bore his fruit in the midsummer glow:
Said the child, “May I gather thy berries now?”
“Yes, all thou canst see:
Take them; all are for thee,”
Said the Tree, while he bent down his laden boughs low.

–Bjorrstjerne Bjornson

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