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Poem by George MacDonald


Riddles


I.

I have only one foot, but thousands of toes;
My one foot stands well, but never goes;
I've a good many arms, if you count them all,
But hundreds of fingers, large and small;
From the ends of my fingers my beauty grows;
I breathe with my hair, and I drink with my toes;
I grow bigger and bigger about the waist
Although I am always very tight laced;
None e'er saw me eat-I've no mouth to bite!
Yet I eat all day, and digest all night.
In the summer, with song I shake and quiver,
But in winter I fast and groan and shiver.

II.

There is a plough that hath no share,
Only a coulter that parteth fair;
But the ridges they rise
To a terrible size
Or ever the coulter comes near to tear:
The horses and ridges fierce battle make;
The horses are safe, but the plough may break.

Seed cast in its furrows, or green or sear,
Will lift to the sun neither blade nor ear:
Down it drops plumb
Where no spring-times come,
Nor needeth it any harrowing gear;
Wheat nor poppy nor blade has been found
Able to grow on the naked ground.


For My Grandchildren


Who is it that sleeps like a top all night,
And wakes in the morning so fresh and bright
That he breaks his bed as he gets up,
And leaves it smashed like a china cup?

IV.

I've a very long nose, but what of that?
It is not too long to lie on a mat!
I have very big jaws, but never get fat:
I don't go to church, and I'm not a church rat!

I've a mouth in my middle my food goes in at,
Just like a skate's-that's a fish that's a flat.

In summer I'm seldom able to breathe,
But when winter his blades in ice doth sheathe

I swell my one lung, I look big and I puff,
And I sometimes hiss.-There, that's enough! 



George MacDonald


George MacDonald's other poems:
  1. On the Source of the Arve
  2. Mary Magdalene
  3. The Auld Fisher
  4. Going to Sleep
  5. The Women who Ministered unto Him


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