The Box

Once upon a time, in the land of Hush-A-Bye,
Around about the wondrous days of yore,
They came across a kind of box
Bound up with chains and locked with locks
And labeled 'Kindly do not touch; it's war.'
A decree was issued round about, and all with a flourish and a shout
And a gaily colored mascot tripping lightly on before.
Don't fiddle with this deadly box,Or break the chains, or pick the locks.
And please don't ever play about with war.
The children understood. Children happen to be good
And they were just as good around the time of yore.
They didn't try to pick the locksOr break into that deadly box.
They never tried to play about with war.
Mommies didn't either; sisters, aunts, grannies neither
'Cause they were quiet, and sweet, and pretty
In those wondrous days of yore.
Well, very much the same as now,
And not the ones to blame somehow
For opening up that deadly box of war.
But someone did. Someone battered in the lid
And spilled the insides out across the floor.
A kind of bouncy, bumpy ball made up of guns and flags
And all the tears, and horror, and death that comes with war.
It bounced right out and went bashing all about,
Bumping into everything in store.And what was sad and most unfair
Was that it didn't really seem to care
Much who it bumped, or why, or what, or for.
It bumped the children mainly. And I'll tell you this quite plainly,
It bumps them every day and more, and more,
And leaves them dead, and burned, and dying
Thousands of them sick and crying.
'Cause when it bumps, it's really very sore.
Now there's a way to stop the ball. It isn't difficult at all.
All it takes is wisdom, and I'm absolutely sure
That we can get it back into the box,And bind the chains, and lock the locks.
But no one seems to want to save the children anymore.
Well, that's the way it all appears, 'cause it's been bouncing round
for years and years
In spite of all the wisdom wizzed since those wondrous days of yore
And the time they came across the box,
Bound up with chains and locked with locks,
And labeled 'Kindly do not touch; it's war.'

by Lascelles Abercrombie

Other poems of ABERCROMBIE (12)

Comments (15)

Can i buy a framed print of the box
Wrong attribution! ! ! Not sure if Kendrew Lascelles or Lisa Carder's Mum wrote the Box Lascelles Abercrombie died in 1938. His poems were published in one volume by Oxford University Press in 1930. Come to Dymock and find out more!
This was my declam piece when I was a Senior in High School in Winner, SD,1972 George McGovern was running for president. I made it to regionals with it. If ever want someone to do a Production of This, I can NAIL this one! (and I worked on McGovern's Campaign! ! ! !) Would love
I remember the first time I heard this poem.It was 1969 just after my mother wrote it. She never put her name on it. My mom didn't write The Box to be a published poet. She wrote it because she was profoundly affected by our experience, and the world she saw her young children were going to grow up in. She wrote it for us. She wasn't interested in credit. But we all know the true story of, The Box written by Melinda Wilhelmsen (8/19/44 - 7/21/18)
There are so many fascinating comments below concerning the authorship of this poem and its being read on Laugh In. I have nothing to add to their splendid memories and words except I have fallen in love with this poem and whoever wrote it is deserving of the highest honors given to writers.
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