LITTLE BELL by Thomas Westwood


Thomas Westwood (1814- 1888)

Piped the blackbird on the beechwood spray,
“Pretty maid, slow wandering this way,
What’s your name ?” quoth he.
“What’s your name? It surely must be told,
Pretty maid with showery curls of gold”—
“Little Bell,” said she.

Little Bell sat down beside the rocks,.
And 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 friskey squirrel hies,
Golden wood lights glancing in his eyes,—
And adown the tree,

Great ripe nuts, kissed brown by autumn’s 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, from the nut-tree shade,
Bonny blackbird, 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 woodland
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 childish 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,
Piped the blackbird in the orchard croft,
“Bell, dear Bell !” piped 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!”

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