The Land Of Candy

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


There was once a little boy
So my father told me who
Never cared for any toy,
But just sweet things, as boys do,
Cakes and comfits, cream and ice,
All the things that boys think nice,
That they like, but ought not to;
Doctors say so, more or less,
And their parents, too, I guess:
But they don't know everything.
Boys know something, too, by jing.


Well, this little boy he cried
Day and night for sweet things; ate
Cake and candy soon and late
That is, if they did n't hide
All such things in some good place
Where he could n't find them. So,
One day, when they did n't know,
In the park he met a man,
Funniest man you ever saw,
In a suit of red and tan,
Thin, and straighter than a straw,
Like a stick of candy; and
This old man just took his hand,
Led him off to Candyland.


First place that they came to, why,
Was a wood that reached the sky;
Forest of Stick Candy. My!
How the little boy made it fly!
Why, the tree trunks were as great,
Big around as, at our gate,
Are the sycamores; the whole
Strip├ęd like a barber's pole:
And the ground was strewn and strown
With the pieces winds had blown
From the branches: and as fast
As one fell another grew
In its place; and, through and through,
Each was better than the last.


After this they came into
A great grove of Sugar-Plums,
And an orchard, such as few
Ever saw, of Creams and Gums,
Marshmallow and Chocolate,
Where the boy just ate and ate
Till he was brimful and felt
As, I guess, a turkey feels
On Thanksgiving; to its belt
Stuffed with chestnuts. And the seals
At the circus, that I saw,
Looked just like that boy, I know,
When he'd eaten bushels pshaw!
Loads of all that candy. Oh!
He just lay down there and sighed
When he couldn't eat no more,
Though he'd eaten more than four
Boys could eat, yes, twenty-four,
And he just lay there and cried,
Cried to eat more. And the man,
The Stick-Candy Man, he said
Never a word; just smiled instead
Sweet as any candy can.


When they'd rested there awhile,
That old man with his sweet smile
Took him by the hand and said,
"Don't you think it's time for bed?"
But the boy he shook his head:
"I want cakes and ice cream now;
Then I'll go and not before."
Wish that I could show you how
Sweet that old man smiled then! Sweet?
It was just like honeyed heat
Trickling down from head to feet,
Or just like a candy store
Flung right at you. But the boy,
At that smile, felt no great joy,
But as if he'd eaten more
Than he ought to. "I feel ill,"
Said he."If I had a drink
I'd feel better. Say, I think
I smell water. What's that hill?
Is it snow?" The old man smiled,
Smiled that smile again, and, quick,
For it made him feel so sick,
From him turned the boy; and, "Child,"
Like some melting sugar-stick,
Drooled the old man, "I'll be bent,
Or be eaten, it's not snow:
But to me it's evident,
If you really want to know,
That hill's ice-cream. Feel the chill
On my neck now....If you will
We will go there." And they went:
Found a stranger country still,
Filled with greater wonderment.


The very ground was sugar there;
And all around them, everywhere,
Great cakes grew up like mushrooms; some
No bigger than a baby's thumb,
And others huge as hats they wear
In picture books of pirate kings:
And some were jelly-cakes; great rings
Of reddest jelly; macaroons
And sponge-cakes like enormous moons:
And every kind of cake there is
Just overrun the premises.
And in the middle of the land
A mountain, they had seen afar,
Of Ice-Cream towered white and grand;
Such mountains as there only are
In Candyland. And from it fell
Two fountains: one of Lemonade,
The other Sodawater. Well,
The little boy just took a spade
And dug into that mountainside
And ate and ate, and cried and cried,
Because he could n't eat it all,
Nor all the cakes that grew around,
Like mushrooms, from the sugary ground;
Nor drink up every waterfall
Of Soda and of Lemonade.
(I wish that I'd been there to aid!
Don't you? I know I'd done my best.
And father said he knew, or guessed,
That that old man felt sorry, too,
Because the boy just had to rest.
And I felt sorry. Would n't you?)


And that big hill would never melt:
Just stayed the same. No sooner than
One took a spoonful it began
To grow back in its place. One dealt
It out in shovelfuls still
There was no less in that huge hill.
And fast yes, faster than one knew,
The mushroom-cakes around you grew;
Wherever one was taken, why,
Up came another, better by
A long ways: and it were no use
To try to drink the fountains dry:
They ran the more; a perfect sluice,
My father said, that played the deuce
With any little boy that'd try.


So in that land a long, long time,
At least a month, he stayed. Each day
Was like the other. (Sometime I'm
A-going to Candyland and stay
A year, or longer; yes, you bet!
No matter what my parents say.)
What happened next? why, I forget.
But one day in the Orchard where
Cream Candies grew or was it in
The Woods of Candystick? or there
Where brown the Sugarlands begin
Of Mushroom-cakes? the old man found
The boy flat, lying on the ground,
The sugar-earth kicked up around,
And cakes and cream knocked all about
And broken into bits, and he
Just crying fit to kill; all out,
And sick of everything, you see.
And when the old man smiled and smiled
That smile again, the boy went wild,
And shook his fist right in his face
And shrieked out at him, "You Disgrace!
Get out! You make me sick!" A stone
(You see rock-candy strewed the place
Just like the stones that strew our own)
He picked and aimed and would have thrown
And knocked the old man's head right off,
Had he not stopped him, with a cough,
Saying, "My boy! why, this won't do!
What ails you, eh?" The boy said, "You!
Don't smile at me! I'll break your head!
You sugar-coated pill! with this!
I'm sick of sweets and you, " he said,
"Your face so like a candy-kiss?
What ails me? Eggs! and bacon! bread!
And milk and toast and chicken-wings,
One never has here! things they fed
Me on at home! those are the things!
Take me back home where I can eat
The things I never wanted once
But now I want them! bread and meat!
Oh, was n't I an awful dunce!
Now, you old sinner, take me back!"
And with those words the old man's face
Fell in a frown that seemed to crack
It all to pieces. All grew black
About the little boy a space;
But when it lightened up once more
Why, there! he was n't any place
But right in front of their big door
His home. I say! my! he was glad;
And hurried in, a different lad
From him who had gone out. And he,
From that time on, took toast and tea,
And milk and eggs, and never teased,
As once he used to tease, for cakes
And candy and such things! My sakes!
But were n't both his parents pleased!

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