In summer when the sun was warm
Shaw Neilson rode around the farm
And in his mind like some clear spring
Soft words and tunes began to sing.
He wrote them down in his notebook
To keep them safe, and feared no harm
From men or mice at Chinkapook.
He watched the bright blue dragonfly,
He saw the skylark climb the sky,
He heard around his pony's knees
The grasshoppers clap the yellow breeze,
And sometimes in a tussocky nook
Like silver water hurrying by
He saw the mice of Chinkapook.
The swarming mice, the hungry mice,
Their teeth were sharp and white and fierce,
They bit their way through field and crop,
They ate the haystack to its top,
They crept into the house and took
The poet's notebook slice by slice,
The nibbling mice of Chinkapook.
Oh what was that strange taste they knew
As through the notebook chew by chew
In moonlight when the house was still
Those wicked creatures ate their fill?
Perhaps it burnt, perhaps it shook
Like sunlight in a drop of dew
The lucky mice of Chinkapook.
You'd think that when they'd fed enough
On what that notebook tasted of,
The strawberries and oranges,
And bluebells under honey trees,
And mushrooms with their elfin look—
Such magic as must surely move
Even the mice of Chinkapook—
Transfigured mice they would have run,
Like jewels in the moon or sun.—
It may be so, but no one hears
Of emerald mice with diamond ears;
They can't be found by hook or crook
But did their deed and then ran on
With what they stole from Chinkapook.
Well, mice are small and mice must live
But when you think of all that love
Of brightness flashing from the dim
Of night and earth and water's brim
That sang for joy in that lost book,
Only Shaw Neilson could forgive
The thieving mice of Chinkapook.