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.