by John Masefield (1878 - 1967)

We lay on the reeds
Language: English 
We lay on the reeds
In the marshy places.
They cried for food,
For the sweet cakes of old.
"Father, father,
I am so hungry!
May I have a rice-cake?
I have had no rice-cake
All to-day."

All around
Were the marshy places.
They cried for food,
Those sons of mine.
"Father," they said,
"Will it soon be food-time?"
Can you feed us, father?"
I told them, "No."
And then they cried.

Kira it was,
The great Lord Kira,
Who burnt our home
And drove us forth.
It was his deed
That starved my children,
My little sons
in the wild swans' lair.

We cannot kill him,
We cannot harm him,
We cannot rob him
Of a moment's pleasure,
The unatoned blood
Cries unheeded.
We are poor men
Lost in the snow.

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-12-31
Line count: 34
Word count: 132