All in the golden afternoonFull leisurely we glide;For both our oars, with little skill,By little arms are plied,While little hands make vain pretence
Our wanderings to guide.Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour,Beneath such dreamy weather,To beg a tale of breath too weakTo stir the tiniest feather!Yet what can one poor voice avail
Against three tongues together?
Imperious Prima flashes forthHer edict 'to begin it'—In gentler tone Secunda hopes'There will be nonsense in it!'—While Tertia interrupts the tale
Not more than once a minute.Anon, to sudden silence won,In fancy they pursueThe dream-child moving through a landOf wonders wild and new,In friendly chat with bird or beast—
And half believe it true.And ever, as the story drainedThe wells of fancy dry.And faintly strove that weary oneTo put the subject by,'The rest next time—' 'It is next time!'The happy voices cry.
Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:Thus slowly, one by one,Its quaint events were hammered out—And now the tale is done,And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.Alice! a childish story take,And with a gentle handLay it where Childhood's dreams are twinedIn Memory's mystic band,Like pilgrim's wither'd wreath of flowersPluck'd in a far-off land.