Hoops

Blue and pink sashes,
Criss-cross shoes,
Minna and Stella run out into the garden
To play at hoop.
Up and down the garden-paths they race,
In the yellow sunshine,
Each with a big round hoop
White as a stripped willow-wand.
Round and round turn the hoops,
Their diamond whiteness cleaving the yellow sunshine.
The gravel crunches and squeaks beneath them,
And a large pebble springs them into the air
To go whirling for a foot or two
Before they touch the earth again
In a series of little jumps.
Spring, Hoops!
Spit out a shower of blue and white brightness.
The little criss-cross shoes twinkle behind you,
The pink and blue sashes flutter like flags,
The hoop-sticks are ready to beat you.
Turn, turn, Hoops!  In the yellow sunshine.
Turn your stripped willow whiteness
Along the smooth paths.
Stella sings:
   "Round and round, rolls my hoop,
   Scarcely touching the ground,
   With a swoop,
   And a bound,
   Round and round.
   With a bumpety, crunching, scattering sound,
   Down the garden it flies;
   In our eyes
   The sun lies.
   See it spin
   Out and in;
   Through the paths it goes whirling,
   About the beds curling.
   Sway now to the loop,
   Faster, faster, my hoop.
   Round you come,
   Up you come,
   Quick and straight as before.
   Run, run, my hoop, run,
   Away from the sun."
And the great hoop bounds along the path,
Leaping into the wind-bright air.
Minna sings:
   "Turn, hoop,
   Burn hoop,
   Twist and twine
   Hoop of mine.
   Flash along,
   Leap along,
   Right at the sun.
   Run, hoop, run.
   Faster and faster,
   Whirl, twirl.
   Wheel like fire,
   And spin like glass;
   Fire's no whiter
   Glass is no brighter.
   Dance,
   Prance,
   Over and over,
   About and about,
   With the top of you under,
   And the bottom at top,
   But never a stop.
   Turn about, hoop, to the tap of my stick,
   I follow behind you
   To touch and remind you.
   Burn and glitter, so white and quick,
   Round and round, to the tap of a stick."
The hoop flies along between the flower-beds,
Swaying the flowers with the wind of its passing.
Beside the foxglove-border roll the hoops,
And the little pink and white bells shake and jingle
Up and down their tall spires;
They roll under the snow-ball bush,
And the ground behind them is strewn with white petals;
They swirl round a corner,
And jar a bee out of a Canterbury bell;
They cast their shadows for an instant
Over a bed of pansies,
Catch against the spurs of a columbine,
Jostle the quietness from a cluster of monk's-hood.
Pat! Pat! behind them come the little criss-cross shoes,
And the blue and pink sashes stream out in flappings of colour.
Stella sings:
   "Hoop, hoop,
   Roll along,
   Faster bowl along,
   Hoop.
   Slow, to the turning,
   Now go! — Go!
   Quick!
   Here's the stick.
   Rat-a-tap-tap it,
   Pat it, flap it.
   Fly like a bird or a yellow-backed bee,
   See how soon you can reach that tree.
   Here is a path that is perfectly straight.
   Roll along, hoop, or we shall be late."
Minna sings:
   "Trip about, slip about, whip about
   Hoop.
   Wheel like a top at its quickest spin,
   Then, dear hoop, we shall surely win.
   First to the greenhouse and then to the wall
   Circle and circle,
   And let the wind push you,
   Poke you,
   Brush you,
   And not let you fall.
   Whirring you round like a wreath of mist.
   Hoopety hoop,
   Twist,
   Twist."
Tap! Tap! go the hoop-sticks,
And the hoops bowl along under a grape arbour.
For an instant their willow whiteness is green,
Pale white-green.
Then they are out in the sunshine,
Leaving the half-formed grape clusters
A-tremble under their big leaves.
"I will beat you, Minna," cries Stella,
Hitting her hoop smartly with her stick.
"Stella, Stella, we are winning," calls Minna,
As her hoop curves round a bed of clove-pinks.
A humming-bird whizzes past Stella's ear,
And two or three yellow-and-black butterflies
Flutter, startled, out of a pillar rose.
Round and round race the little girls
After their great white hoops.
Suddenly Minna stops.
Her hoop wavers an instant,
But she catches it up on her stick.
"Listen, Stella!"
Both the little girls are listening;
And the scents of the garden rise up quietly about them.
"It's the chaise!  It's Father!
Perhaps he's brought us a book from Boston."
Twinkle, twinkle, the little criss-cross shoes
Up the garden path.
Blue — pink — an instant, against the syringa hedge.
But the hoops, white as stripped willow-wands,
Lie in the grass,
And the grasshoppers jump back and forth
Over them.