David Rands has kindly shared with readers of the Victorian Web his site about the life and works of W. B. Rands, the prolific writer of children's literature and originator of The Boy's Own Paper. Readers may wish to consult this site for more information about this little-known figure who had an immense influence upon Victorian children. [GPL]
A dark-green prickly yew one night
Peeped round on the trees of the forest,
And said, "Their leaves are smooth and bright,
My lot is the worst and poorest:
I wish I had golden leaves," said the yew;
And lo, when the morning came,
He found his wish had come suddenly true,
For his branches were all aflame.
Now, by came a Jew, with a bag on his back,
Who cried, "I'll be rich today!"
He stripped the boughs, and, filling his sack
With the yellow leaves, walked away!
The yew was as vexed as a tree could be,
And grieved as a yew-tree grieves,
And sighed, "If Heaven would but pity me,
And grant me crystal leaves!"
Then crystal leaves crept over the boughs;
Said the yew, "Now am I not gay?"
But a hailstorm hurricane soon arose
And broke every leaf away!
So he mended his wish yet once again, —
"Of my pride I do now repent;
Give me fresh green leaves, quite smooth and plain
And I will be content."
In the morning he woke in smooth green leaf,
Saying, "This is a sensible plan;
The storm will not bring my beauty to grief'
Or the greediness of man."
But the world has goats as well as men,
And one came snuffling past,
Which ate of the green leaves a million and ten,
Not having broken his fast.
Then the yew-tree groaned aloud'
"What folly was mine, alack!
I was discontented, and I was proud —
Give me my old leaves back!"
So, when daylight broke, he was dark, dark green,
And prickly as before!
The other trees mocked, "Such a sight to be seen!
To be near him makes one sore!"
The south wind whispered his leaves between,
"Be thankful and change no more!
The thing you are is always the thing
That you had better be"—
But the north wind said, with a gallant fling,
"The foolish, weak yew-tree!
What if he blundered twice or thrice?
There's a turn to the longest lane;
And everything must have its price —
Poor faulterer, try again!"