The Dumb Soldier

- 1850-1894
When the grass was closely mown,
Walking on the lawn alone,
In the turf a hole I found,
And hid a soldier underground.

Spring and daisies came apace;
Grasses hide my hiding place;
Grasses run like a green sea
O'er the lawn up to my knee.

Under grass alone he lies,
Looking up with leaden eyes,
Scarlet coat and pointed gun,
To the stars and to the sun.

When the grass is ripe like grain,
When the scythe is stoned again,
When the lawn is shaven clear,
Then my hole shall reappear.

I shall find him, never fear,
I shall find my grenadier;
But for all that's gone and come,
I shall find my soldier dumb.

He has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if he could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.

He has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.

In the silence he has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O'er him as he lay alone.

Not a word will he disclose,
Not a word of all he knows.
I must lay him on the shelf,
And make up the tale myself.

The Land of Nod

From Breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do--
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

My House, I Say

My house, I say. But hark to the sunny doves   
That make my roof the arena of their loves,   
That gyre about the gable all day long   
And fill the chimneys with their murmurous song:   
Our house, they say; and mine, the cat declares  
And spreads his golden fleece upon the chairs;   
And mine the dog, and rises stiff with wrath   
If any alien foot profane the path.   
So, too, the buck that trimmed my terraces,   
Our whilom gardener, called the garden his;
Who now, deposed, surveys my plain abode   
And his late kingdom, only from the road.

My Wife

Trusty, dusky, vivid, true, 
With eyes of gold and bramble-dew, 
Steel-true and blade-straight, 
The great artificer 
Made my mate. 

Honour, anger, valour, fire; 
A love that life could never tire, 
Death quench or evil stir, 
The mighty master 
Gave to her. 

Teacher, tender, comrade, wife, 
A fellow-farer true through life, 
Heart-whole and soul-free 
The august father 
Gave to me.