THEY’VE left me alone in the garden,
So I’ll talk to that dear little wren–
Mr. Beetle! I do beg your pardon,
I was very near killing you, then.
I’ll tell you a tale, Mrs. Robin,
Please do not be frightened at all–
A tale about Neddy and Dobbin–
She’s gone! she’s flown over the wall!
That wall must be very old–maybe
They’re the children of Israel’s bricks;
It was built before I was a baby,
And now–only think–I am six!
Six years old! What a beautiful swallow,
Catching flies! How I wish he could speak!
He’s gone down to that house in the hollow;
I went there to dinner last week.
I could stay in that garden for ever,
And make friends with the beeches and limes:
I saw Dr. Jones–he’s so clever;
He writes to the papers sometimes!
He looked at me hard through his glasses,
And said, “Now make plenty of noise,
Have a regular romp with my lasses,
And be petted and teased by the boys.”
He said that my curls wanted rumpling,
My cheeks should be red and not pink,
He called me a sweet little dumpling–
He’s very insulting, I think.
‘Twas Nurse that had made me so tidy,
And how can I help being small?
He gave me some roses on Friday;
Perhaps he is nice, after all.
I stayed with the children till seven;
They’re kind, but so dreadfully rough!
There were ten of them–I made eleven–
We played Tick, French and English, and Buff.
The girls are as bad as their brothers,
They teased me, and played me such tricks!
But Maude isn’t rude like the others,
She says I look older than six.
She showed me her dog and her kittens,
And the birds, and the fish in the pool:
She crochets her scarves and her mittens,
And goes to Miss Trimmington’s school.
She mustn’t make blunders or stammer,
Or stoop when she sits on the bench;
She knows History, Science, and Grammar,
Geography, Tables, and French.
She takes pepper and mustard at dinner,
She may ask for plum-pudding again:
I wish I were taller and thinner,
I wish–how I wish–I were ten!
She has brothers and sisters–a dozen–
And Rover, and Pussy, and Poll;
But I haven’t even a cousin,
I’ve only Mamma, and my doll.
Papa’s out all day in the City,
And I’m often in bed when he comes:
He’s so tired and so grave–what a pity!
When will he have finished his sums?
I wish there were more of us, only
It’s nice to play just what I please;
And when I am mopish and lonely
I always can talk to the trees.
Mamma says, “Sweet flowers will not tarry,
But trees are companions for life.”
I wish that great lime-tree could marry,
With me for his dear little wife!
Sometimes, when I shoot at the sparrows
(I don’t want to hit them, they know),
I peel his small twigs for my arrows,
And bend a strong branch for my bow.
If he died, oh, how much I should miss him!
(It’s only his dry sticks I peel)
I put my arms round him and kiss him,
And sometimes I think he can feel.
Those beautiful green caterpillars
Live here, that Nurse cannot endure;
And the birds–cruel butterfly-killers!
But they don’t know it’s wrong, I am sure.
I make tales about flying and creeping
About branches, and berries, and flowers;
And at night, when I ought to be sleeping,
I wake and lie thinking for hours.
I keep quiet, that Nurse may not scold me,
And think, while the stars twinkle bright,
Of the tales that Aunt Mary has told me,
And wonder–who comes here at night?
I fancy the fairies make merry,
With thorns for their knives and their forks;
They have currants for bottles of sherry,
And the little brown heads are the corks.
A leaf makes the tent they sit under,
Their ball-room’s a white lily-cup:
Shall I know all about them, I wonder,
For certain, when I am grown up?
Far over the seas and the mountains
There’s a wonderful country of light;
My new home–full of castles and fountains;
My Dolly goes there every night.
I’ve seen it in dreams–there are plenty
Of birds and beasts, talking in verse;
I shall take Mamma there when I’m twenty,
And Papa, and Aunt Mary, and Nurse.
Papa will look glad, when I show him
Such new and such beautiful things;
He’ll be pleased when I write my grand poem,
And paint a bright angel with wings.
I’ll swim, with a mermaid and merman,
Through the seas and the ocean so broad;
I’ll learn French, and Italian, and German,
And soon be as clever as Maude.
I’ll often have tea at Aunt Mary’s,
With marmalade–orange and quince:
I’ll visit the queen of the fairies,
And then I will marry a prince.
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Based on Keywords: dreadfully, corks, caterpillars, currants, ball-room, blunders, merman, dobbin, lime-tree, dumpling, neddy