The Great War

from The Volunteer and Other Poems, an electronic edition

To a Baby Found Paddling Near the

HAIL! O Baby of the May

In the bubbling river-bed,

Playing where the cannon play,

With the shrapnel overhead!

Sparkling in and flashing out

Through the eddies and the shallows,

With your feet among the trout,

And your head among the swallows;

While the wag-tails on the daisies

Lead you in the minuet,

Twinkling through the flow'ry mazes,

Baby, do you quite forget

That, with shrapnel overhead,

Other babes are put to bed ?

Baby, may the buttercup,

When you tumble, pick you up;

If you fall beside the willow,

Lilies rise to be your pillow!

In the winter should you go

Straying far without a rest,

Down beneath the drifting snow

You shall be the mouse's guest;

May the bull-frog be your Knight,

And the tit your templar true!

May the fairy guide you right

Wandering through a misty land,

At the crossings of the dew,

With the rainbow in her hand!

Should you fall from branches high,

And go tumbling down the sky,

May the heron in the air

Take you floating on his wings,

And the cloudlets be your stair,

Over palaces of Kings

Riding high above the wold,

Larks your sentinels shall be,

Challenging with tongues of gold

Those who try to cage the free !

So, philosopher of May,

With my blessing go your way!

If you win such friends as these

You need never have a care,

Cannon you may safely tease,

And may juggle, at your ease,

With the whizzbang in the air

Though the world be full of sadness,

You may still have fun and gladness,

And be happy for a day,

Playing where the cannon play.