A green-thatched cottage was May’s sweet home
With velvet moss for a floor,
And a clambering vine in the gay sunshine,
And a Maypole set by the door.
And May herself, with a dimple and curl,
Dressed in a flouncy gown,
Was filling baskets–the prettiest girl
In all of Zodiac Town!
The Journeying Man swept off his green hat when he caught sight of May.
“I knew you’d be here,” he said. “May I tell my two young companions how
the joyful animals welcomed you when you came?”
May smiled at Amos and Ann. “How did you know?” she asked J. M.
“I saw it all,” was the answer. “I was passing through the wood one day–“
The Journeying Man was interrupted here by a clock striking ten, and so he
was obliged to dash into rhyme:–
“One day the cheery wood-folk heard
A robin tell another bird
A piece of news, a joyful word
Repeated often over.
‘Oho,’ said they, ‘we’ll plan a way
To welcome back our pretty May.
We’ll have a celebration day
To show her how we love her.’
“Professor Bear should speak, they planned,
With Dr. Fox upon the stand;
The bird quintette from Mapleville
Would sing its loveliest;
And Mr. Owl, the baritone,
Should give selections of his own;
And all the rabbit girls and boys
Should wear their very best.
“The day was fair with balmy air,
And banners waving everywhere;
The woolliest lamb, all curled and frilled,
Was sent to meet the guest;
And even little rats and things,
And creatures that had only wings,
Were given tiny parts to play,
And waited with the rest.
“Then, tripping light and skipping light
And laughing clear, a happy sight,
And flinging flowers left and right,
Came merry, merry May.
‘Oh, welcome, welcome home!’ they cried;
The banners dipped on every side.
She curtsied low, ‘Just think,’ she said,
‘I have a month to stay!'”
May looked as pleased as Amos and Ann when the rhyme was finished.
“It’s every word true,” she said. “And here’s some more news that the
little bird told–if you’d like to hear it:–
“Miss Butterfly sent word one day to all the garden people
That she would give a social tea beneath the hollyhock.
A robin read the message from a slender pine-tree steeple–
A note that begged them sweetly to be there by six o’clock.
They came a-wing, they came a-foot, they came from flower and thicket;
Miss Hummingbird was present in a coat and bonnet gay,
And portly Mr. Bumblebee and cheerful Mr. Cricket,
And tiny Mrs. Ladybug in polka-dot array.
There were seats for four-and-twenty, and the guest of honor there
Was a gray Granddaddy-long-legs in a little mushroom chair.
“The table was a toadstool with a spider-woven cover;
The fare was served in rose-leaf plates and bluebell cups a-ring–
Sweet honey from the latest bloom, and last night’s dew left over,
And a crumb of mortal cake for which an ant went pilfering.
A mockingbird within the hedge sang loudly for their revel;
A lily swayed above them, slow, to keep the moths away;
So they laughed and buzzed and chattered till the shadows
And Miss Katydid said sadly that she must no longer stay.
Then all arose and shook their wings, and curtsied, every one,
‘Good-night, good-bye, Miss Butterfly, we never had such fun.'”
Little Ann looked wistful when she heard all the butterfly tale.
“I do wish I might go to a party like that,” she said.
Amos reflected. “I don’t know but what I’d be afraid of stepping on the
guests,” he remarked.
“That’s true,” Ann agreed. “Just think how it would seem to have Miss
Butterfly say to you, ‘Oh, you’ve crushed Mrs. Ant,’ or ‘Excuse me, but
you seem to be sitting on Colonel Grasshopper, Sir.'”
“Tell you what _I_ wish,” Amos went on. “I wish–Oh, there goes a clock–I
“I wish, when summer’s drawing near about the end of May,
With bees and birds and other things, that teacher’d teach this way:
“‘Bound Pine Wood north and south and east, and all the way around;
Tell where the sassafras bushes grow, and where wild flags are found;
“‘How far from Huckleberry Hill to Sandy-Bottom Creek?
How many cherries at a time can a boy hold in his cheek?
“‘Suppose three fish were in a pond, three fishers close at hand,
Each fisher with a hook and line–how many would they land?
“‘What is the shortest cut to where the buttercups are yellow?
How many fortnights does it take to turn May apples mellow?
“‘Two pickers in a berry patch–when they had picked all day,
How many quarts, inside and out, would those two take away?
“‘If twenty boys turned loose and ran from here in front of school,
How many seconds would they take to reach the swimming-pool?’
“And then I wish the teacher’d say, ‘Well, if you can’t remember,
Go find the answers, _right away_, and tell me in September!'”
(Nancy Byrd Turner)
More Poetry from Nancy Byrd Turner:Nancy Byrd Turner Poems based on Topics: Man, Cry, Time, Education, Night, Garden, Home, Sense & Perception, Joy & Excitement, Birds, Teachers
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Based on Keywords: pilfering, oho, quarts, hummingbird, katydid, mockingbird, a-wing, maypole, toadstool, baritone, four-and-twenty