Little Boy Blue by George MacDonald

Little Boy Blue lost his way in a wood–
Sing apples and cherries, roses and honey:
He said, “I would not go back if I could,
It’s all so jolly and funny!”

He sang, “This wood is all my own–
Apples and cherries, roses and honey!
Here I will sit, a king on my throne,
All so jolly and funny!”

A little snake crept out of a tree–
Apples and cherries, roses and honey:
“Lie down at my feet, little snake,” said he–
All so jolly and funny!

A little bird sang in the tree overhead–
“Apples and cherries, roses and honey:”
“Come and sing your song on my finger,” he said,
All so jolly and funny.

Up coiled the snake; the bird came down,
And sang him the song of Birdie Brown.

But little Boy Blue found it tiresome to sit
Though it was on a throne: he would walk a bit!

He took up his horn, and he blew a blast:
“Snake, you go first, and, birdie, come last.”

Waves of green snake o’er the yellow leaves went;
The snake led the way, and he knew what he meant:

But by Boy Blue’s head, with flutter and dart,
Flew Birdie Brown, her song in her heart.

Boy Blue came where apples grew fair and sweet:
“Tree, drop me an apple down at my feet.”

He came where cherries hung plump and red:
“Come to my mouth, sweet kisses,” he said.

And the boughs bow down, and the apples they dapple
The grass, too many for him to grapple;

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And the cheeriest cherries, with never a miss,
Fall to his mouth, each a full-grown kiss.

He met a little brook singing a song:
“Little brook,” he said, “you are going wrong,

“You must follow me, follow me, follow, I say,
Do as I tell you, and come this way.”

And the song-singing, sing-songing forest brook
Leapt from its bed and after him took;

And the dead leaves rustled, yellow and wan,
As over their beds the water ran.

He called every bird that sat on a bough;
He called every creature with poop and prow–

I mean, with two ends, that is, nose and tail:
With legs or without, they followed full sail;

Squirrels that carried their tails like a sack,
Each his own on his little brown humpy back;

Snails that drew their own caravans,
Poking out their own eyes on the point of a lance,

And houseless slugs, white, black, and red–
Snails too lazy to build a shed;

And butterflies, flutterbys, weasels, and larks,
And owls, and shrew-mice, and harkydarks,

Cockchafers, henchafers, cockioli-birds,
Cockroaches, henroaches, cuckoos in herds;

The dappled fawns fawning, the fallow-deer following;
The swallows and flies, flying and swallowing–

All went flitting, and sailing, and flowing
After the merry boy running and blowing.

The spider forgot, and followed him spinning,
And lost all his thread from end to beginning;

The gay wasp forgot his rings and his waist–
He never had made such undignified haste!

The dragon-flies melted to mist with their hurrying;
The mole forsook his harrowing and burrowing;

The bees went buzzing, not busy but beesy,
And the midges in columns, upright and easy.

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But Little Boy Blue was not content,
Calling for followers still as he went,

Blowing his horn, and beating his drum,
And crying aloud, “Come all of you, come!”

He said to the shadows, “Come after me;”
And the shadows began to flicker and flee,

And away through the wood went flattering and fluttering,
Shaking and quivering, quavering and muttering.

He said to the wind, “Come, follow; come, follow
With whistle and pipe, with rustle and hollo;”

And the wind wound round at his desire,
As if Boy had been the gold cock on the spire;

And the cock itself flew down from the church
And left the farmers all in the lurch.

Everything, everything, all and sum,
They run and they fly, they creep and they come;

The very trees they tugged at their roots,
Only their feet were too fast in their boots–

After him leaning and straining and bending,
As on through their boles the army kept wending,

Till out of the wood Boy burst on a lea,
Shouting and calling, “Come after me,”

And then they rose with a leafy hiss
And stood as if nothing had been amiss.

Little Boy Blue sat down on a stone,
And the creatures came round him every one.

He said to the clouds, “I want you there!”
And down they sank through the thin blue air.

He said to the sunset far in the west,
“Come here; I want you; ’tis my behest!”

And the sunset came and stood up on the wold,
And burned and glowed in purple and gold.

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Then Little Boy Blue began to ponder:
“What’s to be done with them all, I wonder!”

He thought a while, then he said, quite low,
“What to do with you all, I am sure I don’t know!”

The clouds clodded down till dismal it grew;
The snake sneaked close; round Birdie Brown flew;

The brook, like a cobra, rose on its tail,
And the wind sank down with a what-will-you wail,

And all the creatures sat and stared;
The mole opened the eyes that he hadn’t, and glared;

And for rats and bats, and the world and his wife
Little Boy Blue was afraid of his life.

Then Birdie Brown began to sing,
And what he sang was the very thing:

“Little Boy Blue, you have brought us all hither:
Pray, are we to sit and grow old together?”

“Go away; go away,” said Little Boy Blue;
“I’m sure I don’t want you! get away–do.”

“No, no; no, no; no, yes, and no, no,”
Sang Birdie Brown, “it mustn’t be so!

“If we’ve come for no good, we can’t go away.
Give us reason for going, or here we stay!”

They covered the earth, they darkened the air,
They hovered, they sat, with a countless stare.

“If I do not give them something to do,
They will stare me up!” said Little Boy Blue.

“Oh dear! oh dear!” he began to cry,
“They’re an awful crew, and I feel so shy!”

All of a sudden he thought of a thing,
And up he stood, and spoke like a king:

“You’re the plague of my life! have done with your bother!
Off with you all: take me back to my mother!”

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The sunset went back to the gates of the west.
“Follow me” sang Birdie, “I know the way best!”

“I am going the same way as fast as I can!”
Said the brook, as it sank and turned and ran.

To the wood fled the shadows, like scared black ghosts:
“If we stay, we shall all be missed from our posts!”

Said the wind, with a voice that had changed its cheer,
“I was just going there when you brought me here!”

“That’s where I live,” said the sack-backed squirrel,
And he turned his sack with a swing and a swirl.

Said the gold weather-cock, “I’m the churchwarden!”
Said the mole, “I live in the parson’s garden!”

Said they all, “If that’s where you want us to steer for,
What on earth or in air did you bring us here for?”

“You are none the worse!” said Boy. “If you won’t
Do as I tell you, why, then, don’t;

“I’ll leave you behind, and go home without you;
And it’s time I did: I begin to doubt you!”

He jumped to his feet. The snake rose on his tail,
And hissed three times, a hiss full of bale,

And shot out his tongue at Boy Blue to scare him,
And stared at him, out of his courage to stare him.

“You ugly snake,” Little Boy Blue said,
“Get out of my way, or I’ll break your head!”

The snake would not move, but glared at him glum;
Boy Blue hit him hard with the stick of his drum.

The snake fell down as if he was dead.
Little Boy Blue set his foot on his head.

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“Hurrah!” cried the creatures, “hurray! hurrah!
Little Boy Blue, your will is a law!”

And away they went, marching before him,
And marshalled him home with a high cockolorum.

And Birdie Brown sang, “Twirrr twitter, twirrr twee!
In the rosiest rose-bush a rare nest!
Twirrr twitter, twirrr twitter, twirrr twitter, twirrrrr tweeeee!
In the fun he has found the earnest!”

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