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To a Little Brook
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

You 're not so big as you were then,
   O little brook!---
I mean those hazy summers when
We boys roamed, full of awe, beside
Your noisy, foaming, tumbling tide,
And wondered if it could be true
That there were bigger brooks than you,
   O mighty brook, O peerless brook!

All up and down this reedy place
   Where lives the brook,
We angled for the furtive dace;
The redwing-blackbird did his best
To make us think he 'd built his nest
Hard by the stream, when, like as not,
He 'd hung it in a secret spot
   Far from the brook, the telltale brook!

And often, when the noontime heat
   Parboiled the brook,
We 'd draw our boots and swing our feet
Upon the waves that, in their play,
Would tag us last and scoot away;
And mother never seemed to know
What burnt our legs and chapped them so---
   But father guessed it was the brook!

And Fido---how he loved to swim
   The cooling brook,
Whenever we 'd throw sticks for him;
And how we boys did wish that we
Could only swim as good as he---
Why, Daniel Webster never was
Recipient of such great applause
   As Fido, battling with the brook!

But once---O most unhappy day
   For you, my brook!---
Came Cousin Sam along that way;
And, having lived a spell out West,
Where creeks are n't counted much at best,
He neither waded, swam, nor leapt,
But, with superb indifference, stept
   Across that brook---our mighty brook!

Why do you scamper on your way,
   You little brook,
When I come back to you to-day?
Is it because you flee the grass
That lunges at you as you pass,
As if, in playful mood, it would
Tickle the truant if it could,
   You chuckling brook---you saucy brook?

Or is it you no longer know---
   You fickle brook---
The honest friend of long ago?
The years that kept us twain apart
Have changed my face, but not my heart---
Many and sore those years, and yet
I fancied you could not forget
   That happy time, my playmate brook!

Oh, sing again in artless glee,
   My little brook,
The song you used to sing for me---
The song that 's lingered in my ears
So soothingly these many years;
My grief shall be forgotten when
I hear your tranquil voice again
   And that sweet song, dear little brook!

 

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Page last updated: 19 December 1998
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