Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Little Knight in Green

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Little Knight in Green

By Katharine Lee Bates (1859–1929)

[Born in Falmouth, Mass., 1859. Died in Wellesley, Mass., 1929.]

WHAT fragrant-footed comer

Is stepping o’er my head?

Behold, my queen! the Summer!

Who deems her warriors dead.

Now rise, ye knights of many fights,

From out your sleep profound!

Make sharp your spears, my gallant peers,

And prick the frozen ground.

Before the White Host harm her,

We’ll hurry to her aid;

We’ll don our elfin armor,

And every tiny blade

Shall bear atop a dewy drop,

The life-blood of the frost,

Till from their king the order ring:

“Fall back! the day is lost.”

Now shame to knighthood, brothers!

Must Summer plead in vain?

And shall I wait till others

My crown of sunshine gain?

Alone this day I’ll dare the fray,

Alone the victory win;

In me my queen shall find, I ween,

A sturdy paladin.

To battle! Ho! King Winter

Hath rushed on me apace,—

My fragile blade doth splinter

Beneath his icy mace.

I stagger back. I yield—alack!

I fall. My senses pass.

Woe worth the chance for doughtiest lance

Of all the House of Grass!

Last hope my heart gives over.

But hark! a shout of cheer!

Don Daisy and Count Clover,

Sir Buttercup, are here!

Behold! behold! with shield of gold

Prince Dandelion comes.

Lord Bumble-Bee beats valiantly

His rolling battle-drums.

My brothers leave their slumbers

And lead the van of war;

Before our swelling numbers

The foes are driven far.

The day’s our own; but, overthrown,

A little Knight in green,

I kiss her feet and deem it sweet

To perish for my queen.

The Springfield Republican. 1883. (Author’s revision.)