Ho, ruddy-cheeked boys and curly maids,
Who deftly ply your pails and spades,
All you who sturdily take your stand
On your pebble-buttressed forts of sand,
And thence defy
With a fearless eye
And a burst of rollicking high-pitched laughter
The stealthy trickling waves that lap you
And the crested breakers that tumble after
To souse and batter you, sting and sap you -
All you roll-about rackety little folk,
Down-again, up-again, not-a-bit brittle folk,
And let each girl and boy
Join in a loud "Ahoy!"
For, lo, he comes, your tricksy little friend,
From the clear caverns of his crystal home
Beyond the tossing ridges of the foam:
Planner of sandy romps and wet delights,
Robin the Sea-boy, prince of ocean-sprites,
Is come, is come to lead you in your play
And fill your hearts with mirth and jocund sport to-day!
What! Can't you see him? There he stands
On a sheer rock and lifts his hands,
A little lad not three feet high,
With dancing mischief in his eye.
His body gleams against the light,
A clear-cut shape of dazzling white
Set off and topped by golden hair
That streams and tosses in the air.
A moment poised, he dares the leap
And cuts the wind and cleaves the deep.
Down through the emerald vaults self-hurled
That roof the sea-god's awful world.
Another moment sees him rise
And beat the salt spray from his eyes.
He breasts the waves, he spurns their blows;
Then, like a rocket, up he goes,
Up, up to where the gusty wind
With all its wrath is left behind;
Still up he soars and high and high
A speck of light that dots the sky.
Then watch him as he slowly droops
Where the great sea-birds wheel their troops.
Three broad-winged gulls, himself their lord,
He hitches to a silken cord,
Bits them and bridles them with skill
And bids them draw him where he will.
Above the tumult of the shores
He floats, he stoops, he darts, he soars;
From near and far he calls the rest
And waves them forward for a quest;
Then straight, without a check, he speeds
Across the azure tracts and leads
With apt reproof and cheering words
As on a chase his cry of birds.
And when he has finished his airy fun
And all his flights and his swoops are done
He will drop to the shore and lend a hand
In building a castle of weed and sand.
He will cover with flints its frowning face
To keep the tide in its proper place,
And the waves shall employ their utmost damp art
In vain to abolish your moated rampart.
And nobody's nurse shall make a fuss,
As is far too often the case with us;
Instead of the usual how-de-do
She will give us praise when we get wet through;
In fact she will smile and think it better
When we get as wet as we like and wetter.
As for eating too much, you can safely risk it
With chocolate, lollipop, cake, and biscuit,
And your mother will revel with high delight
In the state of her own one's appetite.
Great shells there shall be of a rainbow hue
To be found and gathered by me and you;
Wonderful nets for the joy of making 'em.
And scores of shrimps for the trouble of taking 'em;
In fact it isn't half bad - now is it? -
When Robin the Sea-boy pays his visit.
And perhaps he will tire of his shape and habit
And change and turn to a frisky rabbit,
A plump young gadabout cheerful fellow
With a twitching nose and a coat of yellow,
And never the smallest trace of fear
From his flashing scut to his flattened ear.
But, lo, there's a hint of coming rain,
So, presto, Robin is back again.
He lifts his head and he cocks his eye
And waves his hand and prepares to fly -
"Good-bye, Robin, good-bye, good-bye!"