All in the Golden Afternoon

     ALL in the golden afternoon
     Full leisurely we glide;
     For both our oars, with little skill,
     By little arms are plied,
     While little hands make vain pretence
     Our wanderings to guide.

     Ah, cruel Three!  In such an hour
     Beneath such dreamy weather,
     To beg a tale of breath too weak
     To stir the tiniest feather!
     Yet what can one poor voice avail
     Against three tongues together?

     Imperious Prima flashes forth
     Her edict to begin it
     In gentler tone Secunda hopes
     "There will be nonsense in it!"
     While Tertia interrupts the tale
     Not more than once a minute.

     Anon, to sudden silence won,
     In fancy they pursue
     The dream-child moving through a land
     Of wonders wild and new,
     In friendly chat with bird or beast --
     And half believe it true.

     And ever, as the story drained
     The wells of fancy dry,
     And faintly strove that weary one
     To put the subject by,
     `The rest next time' -- `It is next time!'
     The happy voices cry.

     Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
     Thus slowly, one by one,
     Its quaint events were hammered out
     And now the tale is done,
     And home we steer, a merry crew,
     Beneath the setting sun.

     Alice!  a childish story take,
     And with a gentle hand
     Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined
     In Memory's mystic band,
     Like pilgrim's wither'd wreath of flowers
     Pluck'd in a far-off land.