Harry Behn

The Merry-Go-On


    With a huff and a puff
    And a chuff-chuff-chuff
The merry-go-round began,
    And little white Horse
    Heaved off on a course
Around to the ticket man.

    The music played
    And Tiger swayed
Too dreamy even to roar,
    Not seeming to turn he
    Went on on his journey
To just where he was before.

    Lion pounced
    And Zebra bounced,
But all of the beasts were tame
    In the middle of Spring
    Where every thing
Goes round and around the same.

    Except for Swan
    Who was fastened on
Floating around in one place,
    The animals seemed
    Like creatures dreamed
In a happy-go-round kind of race

    Where elephant led,
    Gazelle was ahead,
And first was Kangaroo,
    And tall Giraffe
    Laughed a long laugh
Because he was winning, too.

    Only one beast
    Was just the least
Uncertain about the race—
    He seemed to find
    They were all behind
And his was the very last place!

    Not to be first
    Was about the worst
Place that ever could be,
    And so as soon
    As the tinkly tune
Stopped for a change, then he

    Decided that when
    It started again
He’d make very sure he led—
    He’d stop going round
    And see what he found
By going straight on instead!

    This creature, of course,
    Was little white Horse
Who did what he planned to do,
    He went straight on
    Across the wide lawn
Into the forest and through.

    Happy and free
    As a horse can be,
On and on he ran—
    And that was the way
    One April day
The merry-go-on began.

    Happy and free
    As a horse can be
Was Horse with no one ahead,
    Till he looked behind
    Only to find
Nobody there to be led.

    It was true as true
    The world was a new
And strange and beautiful place
    But a race is no fun
    Already won
Because there is no one to race.

    So Horse stood still
    On a lonesome hill
And looked at a lonesome view
    Beyond the sound
    Of the merry-go-round,
And he wondered what to do.

    At last he knew
    Why so very few
Or rather he knew why none
    Of his friends had ever
    Never, never
Done what he had done.

    So far away
    Was the happy play
Of galloping to a song,
    The golden ring,
    And the ding-ding-ding
Of the starting and stopping gong.

    But here was only
    A very lonely
Place that was awfully still.
    Well, that was that
    And so he sat
Waiting, waiting—until

    A little Child
    Came up and smiled
And asked if Horse was lost,
    And if he was
    Then how much does
A merry-go-on ride cost?

    Horse said that he
    Was sure it was free,
And so the child climbed on.
    Away they flew
    From the lonesome view
Back to the woods and the lawn.

    Back to his place
    In the happy-go-race
Went Horse, and no one found
    That Child and he
    Had been free as free,
And he galloped round and around.

    But children know
    When off they go
On the back of that one white Horse
    The tinkly tune
    Will change soon,
And so will they, of course.

    From round and about
    To away, way out
To a place where it’s always dawn,
    Where children see
    What always will be
On the merry-go-on and on.