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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Gerald Massey (1828–1907)

Little Willie

POOR little Willie,

With his many pretty wiles;

Worlds of wisdom in his looks,

And quaint, quiet smiles;

Hair of amber, touched with

Gold of heaven so brave;

All lying darkly hid

In a workhouse grave.

You remember little Willie:

Fair and funny fellow! he

Sprang like a lily

From the dirt of poverty.

Poor little Willie!

Not a friend was nigh,

When, from the cold world,

He crouched down to die.

In the day we wandered foodless,

Little Willie cried for bread;

In the night we wandered homeless,

Little Willie cried for bed.

Parted at the workhouse door,

Not a word we said:

Ah, so tired was poor Willie,

And so sweetly sleep the dead.

’Twas in the dead of winter

We laid him in the earth;

The world brought in the New Year,

On a tide of mirth.

But for lost little Willie

Not a tear we crave:

Cold and hunger cannot wake him

In his workhouse grave.

We thought him beautiful,

Felt it hard to part;

We loved him dutiful:

Down, down, poor heart!

The storms they may beat;

The winter winds may rave;

Little Willie feels not,

In his workhouse grave.

No room for little Willie;

In the world he had no part;

On him stared the Gorgon-eye

Through which looks no heart.

Come to me, said Heaven;

And if Heaven will save,

Little matters though the door

Be a workhouse grave.