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Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

The Wood-mouse


              1D' ye know the little Wood-Mouse,
              2    That pretty little thing,
              3That sits among the forest leaves,
              4    Beside the forest spring?

              5Its fur is red as the red chestnut,
              6    And it is small and slim;
              7It leads a life most innocent
              8    Within the forest dim.

              9'T is a timid, gentle creature,
            10    And seldom comes in sight;
            11It has a long and wiry tail,
            12    And eyes both black and bright.

            13It makes its nest of soft, dry moss,
            14    In a hole so deep and strong ;
            15And there it sleeps secure and warm,
            16    The dreary winter long.

            17And though it keeps no calendar,
            18    It knows when flowers are springing;
            19And waketh to its summer life
            20    When Nightingales are singing.

            21Upon the boughs the Squirrel sits,
            22    The Wood-Mouse plays below;
            23And plenty of food it finds itself
            24    Where the Beech and Chestnut grow.

            25In the Hedge-Sparrow's nest he sits
            26    When its Summer brood is fled,
            27And picks the berries from the bough
            28    Of the Hawthorn over-head.

            29I saw a little Wood-Mouse once,
            30    Like Oberon in his hall,
            31With the green, green moss beneath his feet,
            32    Sit under a Mushroom tall.

            33I saw him sit and his dinner eat,
            34    All under the forest tree;
            35His dinner of Chestnut ripe and red,
            36    And he ate it heartily.

            37I wish you could have seen him there;
            38    It did my spirit good,
            39To see the small thing God had made
            40    Thus eating in the wood.

            41I saw that He regardeth them --
            42    Those creatures weak and small;
            43Their table in the wild is spread,
            44    By Him who cares for all!

Notes

30] Oberon: king of the fairies, best known from Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer's Night's Dream.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Mary Howitt, Sketches of Natural History (London: Effingham Wilson, 1834): 120-22. Facsimile Edition, introduction by Carolyn Whiteside (New York: Johnson Reprint, 1970). PR 4809 H2S55 1834a Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1834
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1999.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/7

Rhyme: abcb


Other poems by Mary Howitt