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Poem by Edith Nesbit

The Champion

 YOUNG and a conqueror, once on a day,
 Wild white Winter rode out this way;
 With his sword of ice and his banner of snow
 Vanquished the Summer and laid her low.

 Winter was young then, young and strong;
 Now he is old, he has reigned too long.
 He shall be routed, he shall be slain;
 Summer shall come to her own again!

 See the champion of Summer wake
 Little armies in field and brake:
 Cruel and cold has King Winter been;
 Fight for the Summer, fight for the Queen!

 First the aconite dots the mould
 With little round cannon-balls of gold;
 Then, to help in the winters rout,
 Regiments of crocuses march out.

 See the swords of the flag-leaves shine;
 See the shield of the celandine,
 And daffodil lances green and keen,
 To fight for the Summer, fight for the Queen.

 Silver triumphant the snowdrop swings
 Banners that mock at defeated kings;
 And wherever the green of the new grass peers,
 See the array of victorious spears.

 Daffodil trumpets soon shall sound
 Over the gardens battle-ground,
 And lovely ladies crowd out to see
 The long procession of victory.

 Little daisies with snowy frills,
 Courtly tulips and sweet jonquils,
 Primrose and cowslip, friends well met
 With white wood-sorrel and violet.

 Hundreds of milkmaids by field and fold;
 Thousands of buttercups licked with gold;
 Budding hedges and woods and trees
 Spring brings freedom and life to these.

 Then the triumphant Spring shall ride
 Over the happy countryside;
 Deep in the woods the birds shall sing:
 The King is deadlong live the King!

 But Spring is no king, but a faithful knight;
 He will ride on through the meadows bright
 Till at Summers feet he shall light him down
 And lay at her feet the royal crown.

 She will lean down where the roses twine
 Between the may-trees silver shine,
 And look in the eyes of the dying knight
 Who led his army and won her fight.

 She will stoop to his lips and say,
 Oh, live, O love!O my true love, stay!
 While he smiles and sighs her arms between
 And dies for the Summer, dies for the Queen.

Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit's other poems:
  1. Saturday Song
  2. The Whirligig of Time
  3. For Dolly Who Does Not Learn Her Lessons
  4. The December Rose
  5. The Fire

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Thomas Aird The Champion ("Hope, with eyes of sunny seed")

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