The Walrus and the Carpenter – Lewis Carroll

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun.”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
If this were only cleared away,’
They said, it would be grand!’

If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,’ the Walrus said,
That they could get it clear?’
I doubt it,’ said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more —
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

But wait a bit,’ the Oysters cried,
Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!’
No hurry!’ said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said,
Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed —
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.’

But not on us!’ the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!’
The night is fine,’ the Walrus said.
Do you admire the view?

It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf —
I’ve had to ask you twice!’

It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,
To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
The butter’s spread too thick!’

I weep for you,’ the Walrus said:
I deeply sympathize.’
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

“The Walrus and the Carpenter”

—written by Lewis Carroll, narrated by Jordan Harling.
Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).

 

 

The Land – Rudyard Kipling

When Julius Fabricius Sub-Prefect of the Weald
In the days of Diocletian owned our Lower River-field
He called to him Hobdenius—a Briton of the Clay
Saying: “What about that River-piece for layin’ in to hay?”

And the aged Hobden answered: “I remember as a lad
My father told your father that she wanted dreenin’ bad.
An’ the more that you neeglect her the less you’ll get her clean.
Have it jest as you’ve a mind to but if I was you I’d dreen.”

So they drained it long and crossways in the lavish Roman style —
Still we find among the river-drift their flakes of ancient tile
And in drouthy middle August when the bones of meadows show
We can trace the lines they followed sixteen hundred years ago.

Then Julius Fabricius died as even Prefects do
And after certain centuries Imperial Rome died too.
Then did robbers enter Britain from across the Northern main
And our Lower River-field was won by Ogier the Dane.

Well could Ogier work his war-boat—well could Ogier wield his brand—
Much he knew of foaming waters—not so much of farming land.
So he called to him a Hobden of the old unaltered blood
Saying: “What about that River-piece; she doesn’t look no good ?”

And that aged Hobden answered “‘Tain’t for me to interfere.
But I’ve known that bit o’ meadow now for five and fifty year.
Have it jest as you’ve a mind to but I’ve proved it time on ‘ time
If you want to change her nature you have got to give her lime!”

Ogier sent his wains to Lewes twenty hours’ solemn walk
And drew back great abundance of the cool grey healing chalk.
And old Hobden spread it broadcast never heeding what was in’t—
Which is why in cleaning ditches now and then we find a flint.

Ogier died. His sons grew English—Anglo-Saxon was their name—
Till out of blossomed Normandy another pirate came;
For Duke William conquered England and divided with his men
And our Lower River-field he gave to William of Warenne.

But the Brook (you know her habit) rose one rainy autumn night
And tore down sodden flitches of the bank to left and right.
So said William to his Bailiff as they rode their dripping rounds:
“Hob what about that River-bit—the Brook’s got up no bounds ?”

And that aged Hobden answered: “‘Tain’t my business to advise
But ye might ha’ known ‘twould happen from the way the valley lies.
Where ye can’t hold back the water you must try and save the sile.
Hev it jest as you’ve a mind to but if I was you I’d spile!”

They spiled along the water-course with trunks of willow-trees
And planks of elms behind ’em and immortal oaken knees.
And when the spates of Autumn whirl the gravel-beds away
You can see their faithful fragments iron-hard in iron clay.

Georgii Quinti Anno Sexto I who own the River-field
Am fortified with title-deeds attested signed and sealed
Guaranteeing me my assigns my executors and heirs
All sorts of powers and profits which—are neither mine nor theirs

I have rights of chase and warren as my dignity requires.
I can fish—but Hobden tickles—I can shoot—but Hobden wires.
I repair but he reopens certain gaps which men allege
Have been used by every Hobden since a Hobden swapped a hedge.

Shall I dog his morning progress o’er the track-betraying dew ?
Demand his dinner-basket into which my pheasant flew ?
Confiscate his evening faggot under which my conies ran
And summons him to judgment ? I would sooner summons Pan.

His dead are in the churchyard—thirty generations laid.
Their names were old in history when Domesday Book was made;
And the passion and the piety and prowess of his line
Have seeded rooted fruited in some land the Law calls mine.

Not for any beast that burrows not for any bird that flies
Would I lose his large sound counsel miss his keen amending eyes.
He is bailiff woodman wheelwright field-surveyor engineer
And if flagrantly a poacher—’tain’t for me to interfere.

“Hob what about that River-bit ?” I turn to him again
With Fabricius and Ogier and William of Warenne.
“Hev it jest as you’ve a mind to but”—and here he takes command.
For whoever pays the taxes old Mus’ Hobden owns the land.

“The Land”

—written by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Jordan Harling.

Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).

 

Little Birds – Lewis Carroll

Little Birds are dining
Warily and well
Hid in mossy cell:
Hid I say by waiters
Gorgeous in their gaiters –
I’ve a Tale to tell.

Little Birds are feeding
Justices with jam
Rich in frizzled ham:
Rich I say in oysters
Haunting shady cloisters –
That is what I am.

Little Birds are teaching
Tigresses to smile
Innocent of guile:
Smile I say not smirkle –
Mouth a semicircle
That’s the proper style!

Little Birds are sleeping
All among the pins
Where the loser wins:
Where I say he sneezes
When and how he pleases –
So the Tale begins.

Little Birds are writing
Interesting books
To be read by cooks:
Read I say not roasted –
Letterpress when toasted
Loses its good looks.

Little Birds are playing
Bagpipes on the shore
Where the tourists snore:
“Thanks!” they cry. “‘Tis thrilling!
Take oh take this shilling!
Let us have no more!”

Little Birds are bathing
Crocodiles in cream
Like a happy dream:
Like but not so lasting –
Crocodiles when fasting
Are not all they seem!

Little Birds are choking
Baronets with bun
Taught to fire a gun:
Taught I say to splinter
Salmon in the winter –
Merely for the fun.

Little Birds are hiding
Crimes in carpet-bags
Blessed by happy stags:
Blessed I say though beaten –
Since our friends are eaten
When the memory flags.

Little Birds are tasting
Gratitude and gold
Pale with sudden cold:
Pale I say and wrinkled –
When the bells have tinkled
And the Tale is told

“Little Birds”

—written by Lewis Carroll, narrated by Jordan Harling.

Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).

 

To Autumn – John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more
And still more later flowers for the bees
Until they think warm days will never cease
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep
Drows’d with the fume of poppies while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press with patient look
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay Where are they?
Think not of them thou hast thy music too—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

“To Autumn”

—written by John Keats, narrated by Jordan Harling.
Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).