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Strawberries

by John Townsend Trowbridge

Little Pearl Honeydew, six years old,
From her bright ear parted the curls of gold;
And laid her head on the strawberry bed,
To hear what the red-cheeked berries said.

Their cheeks were blushing, their breath was sweet,
She could almost hear their little hearts beat;
And the tiniest, lisping, whispering sound
That ever you heard, came up from the ground.

"Little friends," she said, "I wish I knew
How it is you thrive on sun and dew!"
And this is the story the berries told
To little Pearl Honeydew, six years old.

"You wish you knew? And so do we.
But we can't tell you, unless it be
That the same Kind Power that cares for you
Takes care of poor little berries, too.

"Tucked up snugly, and nestled below
Our coverlid of wind-woven snow,
We peep and listen, all winter long,
For the first spring day and the bluebird's song.

"When the swallows fly home to the old brown shed,
And the robins build on the bough overhead,
Then out from the mold, from the darkness and cold,
Blossom and runner and leaf unfold.

"Good children, then, if they come near,
And hearken a good long while, may hear
A wonderful tramping of little feet,—
So fast we grow in the summer heat.

"Our clocks are the flowers; and they count the hours
Till we can mellow in suns and showers,
With warmth of the west wind and heat of the south,
A ripe red berry for a ripe red month.

"Apple blooms whiten, and peach blooms fall,
And roses are gay by the garden wall,
Ere the daisy's dial gives the sign
That we may invite little Pearl to dine.

"The days are longest, the month is June,
The year is nearing its golden noon,
The weather is fine, and our feast is spread
With a green cloth and berries red.

"Just take us betwixt your finger and thumb,
And quick, oh, quick! for, see! there come
Tom on all fours, and Martin the man,
And Margaret, picking as fast as they can.

"Oh, dear! if you only knew how it shocks
Nice berries like us to be sold by the box,
And eaten by strangers, and paid for with pelf,
You would surely take pity, and eat us yourself!"

And this is the story the small lips told
To dear Pearl Honeydew, six years old,
When she laid her head on the strawberry bed
To hear what the red-cheeked berries said.