I. THE LION
The Lion is a kingly beast.
He likes a Hindu for a feast.
And if no Hindu he can get,
The lion-family is upset.
He cuffs his wife and bites her ears
Till she is nearly moved to tears.
Then some explorer finds the den
And all is family peace again.
II. AN EXPLANATION OF THE GRASSHOPPER
The Grasshopper, the grasshopper,
I will explain to you:-
He is the Brownies’ racehorse,
The fairies’ Kangaroo.
III. THE DANGEROUS LITTLE BOY FAIRIES
In fairyland the little boys
Would rather fight than eat their meals.
They like to chase a gauze-winged fly
And catch and beat him till he squeals.
Sometimes they come to sleeping men
Armed with the deadly red-rose thorn,
And those that feel its fearful wound
Repent the day that they were born.
IV. THE MOUSE THAT GNAWED THE OAK-TREE DOWN
The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down
Began his task in early life.
He kept so busy with his teeth
He had no time to take a wife.
He gnawed and gnawed through sun and rain
When the ambitious fit was on,
Then rested in the sawdust till
A month of idleness had gone.
He did not move about to hunt
The coteries of mousie-men.
He was a snail-paced, stupid thing
Until he cared to gnaw again.
The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down,
When that tough foe was at his feet –
Found in the stump no angel-cake
Nor buttered bread, nor cheese, nor meat –
The forest-roof let in the sky.
“This light is worth the work,” said he.
“I’ll make this ancient swamp more light,”
And started on another tree.
Where does Cinderella sleep?
By far-off day-dream river.
A secret place her burning Prince
Decks, while his heart-strings quiver.
Homesick for our cinder world,
Her low-born shoulders shiver;
She longs for sleep in cinders curled –
We, for the day-dream river.
VI. THE SPIDER AND THE GHOST OF THE FLY
Once I loved a spider
When I was born a fly,
A velvet-footed spider
With a gown of rainbow-dye.
She ate my wings and gloated.
She bound me with a hair.
She drove me to her parlor
Above her winding stair.
To educate young spiders
She took me all apart.
My ghost came back to haunt her.
I saw her eat my heart.
VII. CRICKETS ON A STRIKE
The foolish queen of fairyland
From her milk-white throne in a lily-bell,
Gave command to her cricket-band
To play for her when the dew-drops fell.
But the cold dew spoiled their instruments
And they play for the foolish queen no more.
Instead those sturdy malcontents
Play sharps and flats in my kitchen floor.