First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Child in the Orchard

[THE CHILD IN THE ORCHARD] by EDWARD THOMAS

'He rolls in the orchard: he is stained with moss And with earth, the solitary old white horse. Where is his father and where is his mother Among all the brown horses? Has he a brother? I know the swallow, the hawk, and the hern; But there are two million things for me to learn.

'Who was the lady that rode the white horse With rings and bells to Banbury Cross? Was there no other lady in England beside That a nursery rhyme could take for a ride? The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern. There are two million things for me to learn.

'Was there a man once who straddled across The back of the Westbury White Horse Over there on Salisbury Plain's green wall? Was he bound for Westbury, or had he a fall? The swift, the swallow, the hawk and the hern. There are two million things for me to learn.

'Out of all the white horses I know three, At the age of six; and it seems to me There is so much to learn, for men, That I dare not go to bed again. The swift, the swallow, the hawk and the hern. There are millions of things for me to learn.'

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