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Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

I love to try and bring a note of mystery to everyday happenings. Here, a child wants his father to build him a sand castle as the tide is falling, but the poem is really about the title of it, which is 'Lord Neptune'.

Lord Neptune

Build me a castle,
the young boy cried,
as he tapped his father's knee.
But make it tall
and make it wide,
with a king's throne just for me.

An echo drifted on the wind,
sang deep and wild and free:
Oh you can be king of the castle
but I am lord of the sea.

Give me your spade,
the father cried;
let's see what we can do!
We'll make it wide
so it holds the tide,
with a fine throne just for you.

He dug deep down
in the firm damp sand,
for the tide was falling fast.
The moat was deep,
the ramparts high,
and the turrets tall and vast.

Now I am king,
the young boy cried,
and this is my golden throne!
I rule the sands,
I rule the seas;
I'm lord of all lands, alone!

The sand-king ruled
from his golden court
and it seemed the wind had died;
but at dusk his throne
sank gently down
in Neptune's rolling tide.

And an echo rose upon the wind,
sang deep and wild and free:
Oh you may be king of the castle
but I am lord of the sea.


from Dragonsfire (Faber and Faber, 1990), copyright © Judith Nicholls 1990, used by permission of the author

Books by Judith Nicholls