Puck of Pook's Hill
The children were at the Theatre, acting to Three Cows as much as they could remember of Midsummer Night's Dream. Their father had made them a small play out of the big Shakespeare one, and they had rehearsed it with him and with their mother till they could say it by heart. They began where Nick Bottom the weaver comes out of the bushes with a donkey's head on his shoulder, and finds Titania, Queen of the Fairies, asleep. Then they skipped to the part where Bottom asks three little fairies to scratch his head and bring him honey, and they ended where he falls asleep in Titania's arms. Dan was Puck and Nick Bottom, as well as all three Fairies. He wore a pointy-eared cloth cap for Puck, and a paper donkey's head out of a Christmas cracker-but it tore if you were not careful-for Bottom. Una was Titania, with a wreath of columbines and a foxglove wand. The Theatre lay in a meadow called the Long Slip. A little mill-stream, carrying water to a mill two or three fields away, bent round one corner of it, and in the middle of the bend lay a large old fairy Ring of darkened grass, which was their stage. The mill-stream banks, overgrown with willow, hazel, and guelder rose made convenient places to wait in till your turn came; and a grown-up who had seen it said that Shakespeare himself could not have imagined a more suitable setting for his play.
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Page 134 - Verbenna down to Ostia Hath wasted all the plain ; Astur hath stormed Janiculum, And the stout guards are slain. I wis in all the Senate There was no heart so bold But sore it ached and fast it beat When that ill news was told. Forthwith up rose the consul, Up rose the Fathers all ; In haste they girded up their gowns And hied them to the wall.
Page 132 - Cities and Thrones and Powers, Stand in Time's eye, Almost as long as flowers, Which daily die: But, as new buds put forth, To glad new men, Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth, The Cities rise again. This season's Daffodil, She never hears, What change, what chance, what chill, Cut down last year's: But with bold countenance, And knowledge small, Esteems her seven days
Page 16 - FAREWELL, rewards and fairies, Good housewives now may say, For now foul sluts in dairies Do fare as well as they ; And though they sweep their hearths no less Than maids were wont to do, Yet who of late for cleanliness Finds sixpence in her shoe ? Lament, lament old abbeys, The fairies lost command, They did but change priests...
Page 288 - Teach us the Strength that cannot seek, By deed or thought, to hurt the weak; That, under Thee, we may possess Man's strength to comfort man's distress...
Page 133 - The horsemen and the footmen Are pouring in amain From many a stately market-place, From many a fruitful plain, From many a lonely hamlet, Which, hid by beech and pine, Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest Of purple Apennine; From lordly Volaterrae Where scowls the far-famed hold Piled by the hands of giants For godlike kings of old...
Page 127 - BESIDE the ungathered rice he lay, His sickle in his hand; His breast was bare, his matted hair Was buried in the sand. Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep, He saw his Native Land.
Page 67 - You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables, The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables To pitch her sides and go over her cables! Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow: And the sound of your oar-blades falling hollow Is all we have left through the months to follow. Ah, what is a Woman that you forsake her, And the hearth-fire and the home-acre, To go with the old grey Widow-maker?
Page 184 - ... we blink and drowse, Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows! Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main, Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again! Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn, Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn! Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies, Look on thy children in darkness. Oh take our sacrifice! Many roads Thou hast fashioned: all of them lead to the Light, Mithras, also a soldier, teach...
Page 10 - When Caesar sailed from Gaul. And see you marks that show and fade, Like shadows on the Downs? O they are the lines the Flint Men made, To guard their wondrous towns. Trackway and Camp and City lost, Salt Marsh where now is corn; Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease, And so was England born! She is not any common Earth, Water or wood or air, But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye, Where you and I will fare.