Strawberries,” by John Townsend Trowbridge, is a conversation between child and berry; it accompanies “The Strawberry Bed,” by Winslow Homer. Trowbridge was one of the founding editors of Our Young Folks; Homer did several works for Our Young Folks. [Note: This image has been digitally “de-aged,” though I made every effort to keep the artist's work unaltered.]
“Strawberries,” by J. T. Trowbridge (from Our Young Folks, July 1868; pp. 389-390)
The Strawberry Bed
“The Strawberry Bed,” by Winslow Homer, July 1868

Little Pearl Honeydew, six years old,

From her bright ear parted the curls of gold,

And laid her head on the strawberry-bed,

To hear what the red-cheeked berries said.

Their cheeks were blushing, their breath was sweet,

She could almost hear their little hearts beat;

And the tiniest lisping, whispering sound

That ever you heard came up from the ground.

“Little friends,” she said, “I wish I knew

How it is you thrive on sun and dew!”

And this is the story the berries told

To little Pearl Honeydew, six years old.

“You wish you knew? and so do we!

But we can’t tell you, unless it be

That the same kind Power that cares for you

Takes care of poor little berries too.

p. 390

“Tucked up snugly, and nestled below

Our coverlid of wind-woven snow,

We peep and listen, all winter long,

For the first spring day and the bluebird's song.

“When the swallows fly home to the old brown shed,

And the robins build on the bough overhead,

Then out from the mould, from the darkness and cold,

Blossom and runner and leaf unfold.

“Good children then, if they come near,

And hearken a good long while, may hear

A wonderful trampling of little feet,—

So fast we grow in the summer heat.

“Our clocks are the flowers; and they count the hours

Till we can mellow in suns and showers,

With warmth of the west wind and heat of the south,

A ripe red berry for a ripe red mouth.

“Apple-blooms whiten, and peach-blooms fall,

And garlands are gay by the garden-wall,

Ere the rose's dial gives the sign

That we can invite little Pearl to dine.

“The days are longest, the month is June,

The year is nearing its golden noon,

The weather is fine, and our feast is spread

With a green cloth and berries red.

“Just take us betwixt your finger and thumb—

And quick, O quick! for, see! there come

Tom on all-fours, and Martin the man,

And Margaret, picking as fast as they can!

“O dear! if you only knew how it shocks

Nice berries like us to be sold by the box,

And eaten by strangers, and paid for with pelf,

You would surely take pity, and eat us yourself!”

And this is the story the small lips told

To dear Pearl Honeydew, six years old,

When she laid her head on the strawberry-bed

To hear what the red-cheeked berries said.

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