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

Thomas Westwood (1814–1888)

Little Bell

PIPED the blackbird on the beechwood spray:

“Pretty maid, slow wandering this way,

What’s your name?” quoth he—

“What’s your name? Oh stop and straight unfold,

Pretty maid with showery curls of gold.”—

“Little Bell,” said she.

Little Bell sat down beneath the rocks,

Tossed aside her gleaming golden locks;

“Bonny bird,” quoth she,

“Sing me your best song before I go.”

“Here’s the very finest song I know,

Little Bell,” said he.

And the blackbird piped: you never heard

Half so gay a song from any bird—

Full of quips and wiles;

Now so round and rich, now soft and slow,

All for love of that sweet face below,

Dimpled o’er with smiles.

And the while the bonny bird did pour

His full heart out freely o’er and o’er

’Neath the morning skies,

In the little childish heart below

All the sweetness seemed to grow and grow,

And shine forth in happy overflow

From the blue, bright eyes.

Down the dell she tripped, and through the glade

Peeped the squirrel from the hazel shade,

And from out the tree

Swung, and leaped, and frolicked, void of fear,

While bold blackbird piped that all might hear,—

“Little Bell,” piped he.

Little Bell sat down amid the fern,—

“Squirrel, squirrel, to your task return;

Bring me nuts,” quoth she.

Up, away, the frisky squirrel hies,—

Golden wood-lights glancing in his eyes,—

And adown the tree,

Great ripe nuts, kissed brown by July sun,

In the little lap dropped one by one—

Hark, how blackbird pipes to see the fun!

“Happy Bell,” pipes he.

Little Bell looked up and down the glade:

“Squirrel, squirrel, if you’re not afraid,

Come and share with me!”

Down came squirrel eager for his fare,

Down came bonny blackbird, I declare;

Little Bell gave each his honest share—

Ah, the merry three!

And the while these frolic playmates twain

Piped and frisked from bough to bough again

’Neath the morning skies,

In the little childish heart below

All the sweetness seemed to grow and grow,

And shine out in happy overflow

From her blue, bright eyes.

By her snow-white cot at close of day

Knelt sweet Bell, with folded palms to pray:

Very calm and clear

Rose the praying voice to where, unseen,

In blue heaven, an angel shape serene

Paused awhile to hear.

“What good child is this,” the angel said,

“That with happy heart, beside her bed

Prays so lovingly?”

Low and soft, oh! very low and soft,

Crooned the blackbird in the orchard croft,

“Bell, dear Bell!” crooned he.

“Whom God’s creatures love,” the angel fair

Murmured, “God doth bless with angels’ care:

Child, thy bed shall be

Folded safe from harm; Love, deep and kind,

Shall watch around and leave good gifts behind,

Little Bell, for thee!”