Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MAKE BELIEVE (1), by ALICE CARY



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MAKE BELIEVE (1), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All upon a summer day
Last Line: Yes, I think so, without doubt.
Subject(s): Children; Play; Work


ALL upon a summer day,
Seven children, girls and boys,
Raking in the meadow hay,
Waked the echoes with their noise.

You must know them by their names --
Fanny Field and Mary,
Benjamin and Susan James,
Joe and John M'Clary.

Then a child, so very small,
She was only come for play --
Little Miss Matilda May,
And you have them one and all.

'T was a pretty sight to see --
Seven girls and boys together
Raking in the summer weather,
Merry as they well could be!

But one lad that we must own
Many a lad has represented,
Doing well, was not contented
To let well enough alone!

This was Master Benny James,
Brother, you will see, to Sue,
If you glance along the names
As I set them down for you.

Out he spoke -- this Benjamin --
Standing with his lazy back
Close against a fragrant stack.
Out and up he spoke, and then
Called with much ado and noise
All the seven girls and boys
From their raking in the hay --
Fanny Field and Mary,
Sister Sue and Tilly May,
Joe and John M'Clary.

Two by two, and one by one
Turned upon their work their backs,
And with skip, and hop, and run
In and out among the stacks,

Came with faces flushed and red
As the flowers along the glen,
And began to question Ben,
Who made answer back, and said --
Speaking out so very loud --
Holding up his head so proud,
As he leaned his lazy back
Close against the fragrant stack:
"Listen will you, girls and boys!
This is what I have to say --
I've invented a new play!"
Then they cried with merry noise --
"Tell us all about it, Ben!"
And he answered -- "First of all,
All we boys, or large or small,
Must pretend that we are men!

"And you girls, Fan, Sue, and Molly,
Must pretend that you're birds,
And must chirp and sing your words --
Never was there play so jolly!

"I'm to be called Captain Gray,
And, of course, the rest of you
All must do as I shall say."
Here he called his sister Sue,
Telling her she must be blue,
And must answer to her name
When the call of Bluebird came.

Fanny Field must be a Jay,
And the rest -- no matter what --
Anything that they were not!
Mary might be Tilly May,
And Matilda, as for her,
She might be a Grasshopper!

All cried out, "Oh, what a play!"
Fanny Field and Mary,
Susy James and Tilly May,
Joe and John M'Clary.

Here Ben said he was not Ben
Any more, but Captain Gray!
And gave order first -- "My men,
Forward! march! and rake the hay!"

Then he told his sister Sue
She must go and do the same,
But, forgetting she was blue,
Called her by her proper name.

Loud enough laughed Susan then,
And declared she would not say
Any longer Captain Gray,
But would only call him Ben!

This was such a dreadful falling
Ben got angry, and alas,
Made the matter worse, by calling
Little Tilly, Hoppergrass!

Fanny Field, he did make out
To call Jay-bird, once or twice,
And, in turn, she flew about,
Chirping very wild and nice.

Once she tried to make a wing,
Holding wide her linsey gown,
And went flapping up and down,
Laughing so she couldn't sing.

But the captain to obey
When he called her Tilly May,
Was too hard for Mary,
And Matilda -- praise to her --
Could not play the grasshopper,
But in honesty of heart,
Quite forgetful of her part,
Spoke to John M'Clary!

Thus the hay-making went on,
Very bad and very slow --
All the worse that Joe and John
Now were Mister John and Joe!

Work is work, and play is play,
And the two will not be one;
Therefore half the meadow-hay
Lay unraked at set of sun.

Then the farmer who had hired
All the seven girls and boys,
Being out of heart, and tired
With no work and much of noise,

Came upon them all at once,
And made havoc of their play.
Calling Benjamin a dunce,
In the stead of Captain Gray!

So to make excuse, in part,
For the unraked field of hay,
Tilly -- bless her honest heart!
Up and told about the play.

How that Benny, discontented
With the work of raking hay,
Of his own head had invented
Such a pretty, pretty play!

"Benny calls it Make-believe!"
Tilly said, with cheeks aglow,
"Not at all, sir, to deceive,
But to make things fine, you know?"

Then she said, that he might see
Just how charming it must be,
"Fanny Field, sir, is a jay,
And her sister Mary,
Is myself, Matilda May,
Joe and John M'Clary,
Mister Joe and Mister John --
Sue a bluebird and so on
Up to lofty Captain Gray.
Oh it is the funniest play!
Wouldn't you like to play it, sir?
I was just a grasshopper,
But I couldn't play my part!
Hopping, I was sure to fall --
Somehow, 't was not in my heart,
But 't was very nice, for all!"

Looking in the farmer's eyes,
All a-tiptoe stood the child;
Half in kindliness he smiled,
Half in pitiful surprise.

Then he said, "My little friends,"
Calling one by one their names,
Fanny Field and Mary,
Benjamin and Susan James,
Joe and John M'Clary,
And Matilda -- "Life's great ends
Are not gained by make-believe.

This you all must learn at length,
Lies are weak and truth is strong,
And as much as you deceive,
Just so much you lose of strength --
Right is right, and wrong is wrong.

"If 't is hay you want to make,
Mind this, every one of you!
You must call a rake, a rake,
And must use it smartly, too.

"Oh, be honest through and through!
Cherish truth until it grows,
And through all your being shows
Like the sunshine in the dew!

"Using power is getting power --
He that giveth seldom lacks,
Doing right, wrong done retrieves."
Then the children turned their backs
On their foolish make-believes.
And in just a single hour
Filled the meadow full of stacks!

And as home they went that night,
Each and all had double pay
For the raking of that hay,
And the best pay was delight.

And I think without a doubt,
If they lived they all became
Wiser women, wiser men
For the lesson learned that day
Simple-hearted Tilly May,
Fanny Field and Mary.

Susan James and Benjamin,
Joe and John M'Clary,
Leaving in their lives the game
Of the make-believing out;
Yes, I think so, without doubt.





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