The Boy Next Door

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


There's a boy who lives next door;
And this boy is just as bad
As a boy can be; and poor!
He's so poor it makes me sad
When I see him. Out at knee;
And no shoes; and, more than that,
Hardly any shirt or hat.
He's as poor as Poverty.


But I like him; yes, I do.
He can play 'most any game,
And tell fairy stories, too;
Funny stories, just the same
As my father does. And he
Told me one about a frog,
Living near a lake or bog,
Frog that married a bumblebee.


And another of Jumping Joan
And Hink Minx, the old witch that
Sits before the fire alone
Frying fat for her black cat.
And of Craney Crow; her dog
And her chicken. But the best,
One I like more than the rest,
'S that one of the bee and frog.


Well, the bumblebee would sing
All day long; and all the night
Sang the old frog; till the thing,
So folks said, was done in spite,
Just to keep the flowers awake:
One a rose, a brier-rose;
And the other, one of those
Lilies that grow in a lake.


All day long the bee would prod
At the rose and buzz and keep
Shaking it; it couldn't nod,
Much less ever go to sleep:
Humming to it, "Don't you hear?
I'm so happy! Can't you be
Just a little neighborly?
Ain't my froggie just a dear?"


And the frog all night would sing
To the water-lily; while
On the pad he'd sit or cling,
On his face an ear-wide smile,
Croaking, "Listen! have you heard
All about my bouncing bee?
Don't you wish that you were she?
I'm as happy as a bird!"


Then the water-lily'd yawn,
And the rose would bat its eyes:
One would say, "It's nearly dawn.
Better sleep. So I advise."
And the other, "Jumping Jim!
That old frog's a wonder! made
Just for you. Can't I persuade
You to sing your songs to him?"


Finally it got so bad
That the rose and lily agreed
They would fix them. Both were mad
And just dying to be freed
From this tuneful tyranny.
So the rose just took a thorn,
When the bee dropped in one morn,
Stabbed her; killed her dead, you see.


That night by the yellow moon,
Sitting on the lily-pad,
Tuning up his old bassoon,
Did n't that old frog feel sad
When the lily told him! Cried
Fit to break one's heart; and, plunk!
In he plunged right there and sunk:
Drowned, committed suicide.

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