Willie and Bess, Georgie and May —
Ah, the mirth of that summer day!
’Twas Father Time who had come to share
The innocent joy of those children there;
He learned betimes the game they played
And into their sport with them went he —
How could the children have been afraid,
Since little they recked who he might be?
They laughed to hear old Father Time
Mumbling that curious nonsense rime
Of “Intry-mintry, cutrey-corn,
Apple-seed and apple-thorn;
Wire, brier, limber, lock,
Twelve geese in a flock;
Some flew east, some flew west,
Some flew over the cuckoo’s nest!”
Willie and Bess, Georgie and May,
And joy of summer — where are they?
The grim old man still standeth near
Crooning the song of a far-off year;
And into the winter I come alone,
Cheered by that mournful requiem,
Soothed by the dolorous monotone
That shall count me off as it counted them —
The solemn voice of old Father Time
Chanting the homely nursery rime
He learned of the children a summer more
When, with “apple-seed and apple-thorn,”
Life was full of the dulcet cheer
That brings the grace of heaven near —
The sound of the little ones hard at play —
Willie and Bess, Georgie and May.