Three maids there were in meadow bright,
The eldest less then seven;
Their eyes were dancing with delight,
And innocent as Heaven.
Wild flowers they wound with tender glee,
Their cheeks with rapture rosy;
All radiant they smiled at me,
When I besought a posy.
She gave me a columbine,
And one a poppy brought me;
The tiniest, with eyes ashine,
A simple daisy sought me.
And as I went my sober way,
I heard their careless laughter;
Their hearts too happy with to-day
To care for what comes after.
. . . . . . .
That’s long ago; they’re gone, all three,
To walk amid the shadows;
Forgotten is their lyric glee
In still and sunny meadows.
For Columbine loved life too well,
And went adventure fairing;
And sank into the pit of hell,
And passed but little caring.
While Poppy was a poor man’s wife,
And children had a-plenty;
And went, worn out with toil and strife
When she was five-and-twenty.
And Daisy died while yet a child,
As fragile blossoms perish,
When Winter winds are harsh and wild,
With none to shield and cherish.
Ah me! How fate is dark and dour
To little Children of the Poor.