Document 61919

Rollicking Rhyme
Fifty fabulous poems to inspire little minds
Rollicking Rhyme
Published April 2013 by Amanda Kennedy (
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/ rälikiNG/
Exuberantly lively and amusing. “Good rollicking fun”
Table of Contents
William Blake
The Tyger
Cradle Song
John Keats
A Poem About Myself
Heinrich Hoffman
The Story of Fidgety Phillip
The Story of Johnny Head in the Air
Emily Dickinson
A Light Exists in Spring
Edward Lear
An Alphabet
Charles and Mary Lamb
The First Tooth
Robert Louis Stevenson
Bed in Summer
The Land of Counterpane
At The Seaside
The Land of Nod
My Shadow
Mary Howitt
The Spider and the Fly
Hilaire Belloc
Introduction to The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts
The Vulture
Isaac Watts
Love Between Brothers and Sisters
Colley Cibber
The Blind Boy
Lewis Carrol
How Doth the Little Crocodile
You Are Old, Father William
A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky
Mary Hunter Austin
William Brighty Rands
Topsy-Turvey World
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Arrow and the Song
There was a little girl
Edgar Allen Poe
The Raven
Christina Rosetti
The Rainbow
What are heavy
Kenneth Grahame
A Song of Toad
Jane and Ann Taylor
The Star
My Mother
Eugene Field
The Sugar Plum Tree
Abbie Farwell Brown
The Fisherman
George Macdonald
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Mountain and the Squirrel
Rudyard Kipling
Playing Robinson Crusoe
Emily Brontë
Past, Present, Future
Clement Clarke Moore
A Visit from St. Nicholas
Anonymous Authors
Old Mother Hubbard
Ladybird Ladybird
Remember Remember the Fifth of November
The Days of the Month
Mr. Nobody
About this book
About the Editor
Index of first lines
Children find poetry mesmerizing. Poems can make us laugh, make us wonder; it can tell
imaginative stories or send powerful messages in a few words.
There are many hidden benefits of introducing children to poetry from an early age. Poetry's
emphasis on the sound and rhythm of language helps build phonemic awareness (sensitivity to
the smallest sounds of speech) which helps to develop the skills required for reading. Colourful
use of language exposes children to a wider range of vocabulary and concepts which in turn
helps children write more articulately.
Poetry celebrates the sound and rhythm of language and words in ways which narratives do not.
Being shorter than most stories and books, poems provide morsels of literary goodness which to
be enjoyed over and over, encouraging delight in the simple use of language in cases where
dredging through pages of text are discouraging.
In this anthology, I've selected fifty of my favourite children's poems by many authors. These are
verses I read alone and spoke aloud as a child; which I've shared with important people in my
life and – most importantly – which I now share and enjoy with my own children.
Since children particularly enjoy poetry which they can relate to, I've chosen a variety of verse to
suit many personalities and occasions. I hope you will enjoy sharing these classic poems with
your own children to help inspire in them a love of the written word.
William Blake
William Blake (1757-1827) was a poet, artist and printmaker who was largely unrecognised
during his lifetime. He is now considered an important figure in the history of the poetic and
visual arts of the Romantic Age.
First published in 1794, his poem The Tyger has thrilled children and roused discussion among
academics for over 200 years. It remains one of his most famous poems, whether considered an
allegory for the French Revolution or simply a rhyme to delight.
Cradle Song was first published in 1789 in the anthology, Songs of Innocence and Experience; it
is often interpreted as a lullaby meant to be sung by a mother to her child.
The Tyger
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Cradle Song
Sweet dreams form a shade,
O'er my lovely infants head.
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy silent moony beams
Sweet sleep with soft down.
Weave thy brows an infant crown.
Sweet sleep Angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child.
Sweet smiles in the night,
Hover over my delight.
Sweet smiles Mothers smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes,
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.
Sleep sleep happy child,
All creation slept and smil'd.
Sleep sleep, happy sleep.
While o'er thee thy mother weep
Sweet babe in thy face,
Holy image I can trace.
Sweet babe once like thee.
Thy maker lay and wept for me
Wept for me for thee for all,
When he was an infant small.
Thou his image ever see.
Heavenly face that smiles on thee,
Smiles on thee on me on all,
Who became an infant small,
Infant smiles are His own smiles,
Heaven & earth to peace beguiles.
John Keats
John Keats (1795-1821) was born in London, and from being a teenager was raised by a
merchant after his parents died. Before his untimely death at the young age of 25, he had already
established his reputation as a prominent Romantic poet.
Keats’ poem, A Song About Myself, was written for the pleasure of his 15 year old sister, Fanny.
It is full of whimsical rhymes and jolly rhythms as the poet teases himself through playful
A Poem About Myself
There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet beHe took
In his knapsack
A book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels,
A slight cap
For night cap,
A hair brush,
Comb ditto,
New stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This knapsack
Tight at's back
He rivetted close
And followed his nose
To the north,
To the north,
And follow'd his nose
To the north.
There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetryHe took
An ink stand
In his hand
And a pen
Big as ten
In the other,
And away
In a pother
He ran
To the mountains
And fountains
And ghostes
And postes
And witches
And ditches
And wrote
In his coat
When the weather
Was cool,
Fear of gout,
And without
When the weather
Was warmOch the charm
When we choose
To follow one's nose
To the north,
To the north,
To follow one's nose
To the north!
There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
He kept little fishes
In washing tubs three
In spite
Of the might
Of the maid
Nor afraid
Of his Granny-goodHe often would
Hurly burly
Get up early
And go
By hook or crook
To the brook
And bring home
Miller's thumb,
Not over fat,
Minnows small
As the stall
Of a glove,
Not above
The size
Of a nice
Little baby's
Little fingersO he made
'Twas his trade
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettleA kettle
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle!
There was a naughty boy,
And a naughty boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
The people for to seeThere he found
That the ground
Was as hard,
That a yard
Was as long,
That a song
Was as merry,
That a cherry
Was as red,
That lead
Was as weighty,
That fourscore
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in EnglandSo he stood in his shoes
And he wonder'd,
He wonder'd,
He stood in his
Shoes and he wonder'd.
Heinrich Hoffman
Heinrich Hoffmann (June 13, 1809 - September 20, 1894) was a German psychiatrist who
authored a few short works, including Der Strewwelpeter: the anthology from which these two
poems were translated.
The Story of the Fidgety Philip is about a boy who won't sit still at dinner; he accidentally
knocks all of the food onto the floor, much to his parents' great displeasure. The Story of Johnny
Head-in-Air concerns a boy who habitually fails to watch where he's walking. One day he walks
into a river, and while he is soon rescued, his writing-book drifts away.
The anthology from which they are derived is a book of cautionary tales aimed at three to six
year olds, and are incredibly tame compared to some of the more gruesome poems (such as The
Story of Bad Frederick and The Dreadful Story of the Matches!).
The Story of Fidgety Phillip
"Let me see if Philip can
Be a little gentleman;
Let me see if he is able
To sit still for once at table:"
Thus Papa bade Phil behave;
And Mamma looked very grave.
But fidgety Phil,
He won't sit still;
He wriggles,
And giggles,
And then, I declare,
Swings backwards and forwards,
And tilts up his chair,
Just like any rocking-horse"Philip! I am getting cross!"
See the naughty, restless child
Growing still more rude and wild,
Till his chair falls over quite.
Philip screams with all his might,
Catches at the cloth, but then
That makes matters worse again.
Down upon the ground they fall,
Glasses, plates, knives, forks, and all.
How Mamma did fret and frown,
When she saw them tumbling down!
And Papa made such a face!
Philip is in sad disgrace.
Where is Philip, where is he?
Fairly covered up you see!
Cloth and all are lying on him;
He has pulled down all upon him.
What a terrible to-do!
Dishes, glasses, snapped in two!
Here a knife, and there a fork!
Philip, this is cruel work.
Table all so bare, and ah!
Poor Papa, and poor Mamma
Look quire cross, and wonder how
They shall have their dinner now.
The Story of Johnny Head in the Air
As he trudged along to school,
It was always Johnny's rule
To be looking at the sky
And the clouds that floated by;
But what just before him lay,
In his way,
Johnny never thought about;
So that everyone cried out,
"Look at little Johnny there,
Little Johnny Head-in-Air!"
Running just in Johnny's way
Came a little dog one day;
Johnny's eyes were still astray
Up on high,
In the sky;
And he never heard them cry
"Johnny, mind, the dog is nigh!"
Down they fell, with such a thump,
Dog and Johnny in a lump!
Once, with head as high as ever,
Johnny walked beside the river.
Johnny watched the swallows trying
Which was cleverest at flying.
Oh! what fun!
Johnny watched the bright round sun
Going in and coming out;
This was all he thought about.
So he strode on, only think!
To the river's very brink,
Where the bank was and steep,
And the water very deep;
And the fishes, in a row,
Stared to see him coming so.
One step more! oh! sad to tell!
Headlong in poor Johnny fell.
And the fishes, in dismay,
Wagged their tails and swam away.
There lay Johnny on his face,
With his nice red writing-case;
But, as they were passing by,
Two strong men had heard him cry;
And, with sticks, these two strong men
Hooked poor Johnny out again.
Oh! you should have seen him shiver
When they pulled him from the river.
He was in a sorry plight,
Dripping wet, and such a fright!
Wet all over, everywhere,
Clothes, and arms, and face, and hair:
Johnny never will forget
What it is to be so wet.
And the fishes, one, two, three,
Are come back again, you see;
Up they came the moment after,
To enjoy the fun and laughter.
Each popped out his little head,
And, to tease poor Johnny, said
"Silly little Johnny, look,
You have lost your writing-book!"
Emily Dickinson
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in
Amherst, Massachusetts. Her family were successful with strong community ties, though she
spent most of her life introverted and reclusive.
She was considered an eccentric among the locals, and was an unconventional poet for her time
since her poems contained short lines and strange capitalisation.
Dickinson’s poem, A Light Exists in Spring tells us of the urgency and vitality presented by the
seasonal light when it falls upon the landscape.
A Light Exists in Spring
A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —
A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.
Edward Lear
Edward Lear (12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) was an English artist, illustrator, author and poet.
He is most well known for his “nonsense” works, which use both real and inverted English
In An Alphabet, Lear celebrates the glorious fun of wordplay while introducing children to the
sounds of the letters we use each day.
The Owl and the Pussycat is probably Lear’s most famous nonsense work. It tells the story of a
sea voyage complete with bong trees, the Piggy-Wig and his ring, the Turkey Vicar and the
wedding feast eaten with a runcible spoon.
An Alphabet
A was once an apple pie,
Nice insidy
Apple Pie!
B was once a little bear,
Taky cary!
Little Bear!
C was once a little cake,
Taky Caky,
Little Cake!
D was once a little doll,
Nursy Dolly
Little Doll!
E was once a little eel,
Twirly, Tweedy
Little Eel!
F was once a little fish,
In a Dishy
Little Fish!
G was once a little goose,
Little Goose!
H was once a little hen,
Little Hen?
I was once a bottle of ink,
Black Minky
Bottle of Ink!
J was once a jar of jam,
Jar of Jam!
K was once a little kite,
Out of sightyLittle Kite!
L was once a little lark,
In the Parky,
Little Lark!
M was once a little mouse,
In the Housy
Little Mouse!
N was once a little needle,
Little Needle!
O was once a little owl,
Browny fowly
Little Owl!
P was once a little pump,
Dumpy, Thumpy
Little Pump!
Q was once a little quail,
Little Quail!
R was once a little rose,
Bows-y - grows-y
Little Rose!
S was once a little shrimp,
Little Shrimp!
T was once a little thrush,
Little Thrush!
U was once a little urn,
Little Urn!
V was once a little vine,
Little Vine!
W was once a whale,
Mighty Whale!
X was once a great king Xerxes,
Linxy Lurxy
Great King Xerxes!
Y was once a little yew,
Growdy, grewdy,
Little Yew!
Z was once a piece of zinc,
Tinkly Minky
Piece of Zinc!
Charles and Mary Lamb
Mary Ann Lamb (3 December 1764 – 20 May 1847) and her brother, Charles (10 February 1775
– 27 December 1834) were part of London's famous literary network in the early 19th century.
Their poem, The First Tooth explains the interaction between a jealous sister and her mature
brother regarding their infant sibling.
The First Tooth
Through the house what busy joy,
Just because the infant boy
Has a tiny tooth to show!
I have got a double row,
All as white and all as small;
Yet no one cares for mine at all.
He can say but half a word,
Yet that single sound’s preferred
To all the words that I can say
In the longest summer day.
He cannot walk, yet if he put
With mimic motion out his foot,
As if he thought he were advancing,
It’s prized more than my best dancing.
Sister, I know jesting you are,
Yet O! of jealousy beware.
If the smallest seed should be
In your mind of jealousy,
It will spring, and it will shoot,
Till it bear the baneful fruit.
I remember you, my dear,
Young as is this infant here.
There was not a tooth of those
Your pretty, even ivory rows,
But as anxiously was watch’d
Till it burst its shell new hatch’d,
As if it a Phoenix were,
Or some other wonder rare.
So when you began to walk—
So when you began to talk—
As now, the same encomiums pass’d.
‘Tis not fitting this should last
Longer than our infant days,
A child is fed with milk and praise.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish
novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. He is most famed for his fictional Treasure Island and
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
His children’s poetry published in A Child’s Garden of Verses is thought to express happy
memories of his sickly childhood.
Bed in Summer expresses a child’s frustration about having to go to bed while the sun still
The Land of Counterpane expresses Stevenson’s pleasant recollection of his nurse telling stories
of the Covenanters while he lay sick in bed.
At The Seaside is a simple poem using rhyme and similes to delight, while we are transported to
the imaginary realm where sleepers go In The Land of Nod.
Finally in My Shadow, we are treated to the whimsical imaginings of a boy who personifies and
ridicules his shadow.
Bed in Summer
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
The Land of Counterpane
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.
At The Seaside
When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up
Till it could come no more.
The Land of Nod
From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.
All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do -All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.
The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.
Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.
My Shadow
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all.
He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
Mary Howitt
Mary Howitt (1799-1888) was an English poet; together with her husband she wrote over 180
Howitt is famed as the author of The Spider and the Fly: a cautionary tale of a cunning Spider
who ensnares a naive Fly through the use of seduction and flattery.
The Spider and the Fly
"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly,
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there."
"Oh no, no," said the Fly, "to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."
"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, "Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"
"Sweet creature," said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I'll call another day."
The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead."
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head - poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!
And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne'er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.
Hilaire Belloc
Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and
historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902.
He was a political activist, noted for his Catholic faith who was famed for his cautionary tales. In
his Introduction to The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, for example, Belloc cautions children
against behaving like animals.
We also chose to include other cautionary tales: The Vulture which warns against snacking
between meals; Jim tells the tragic tale of a boy who wouldn’t hold his nurse’s hand at the zoo,
while Rebecca explains what could happen to little girls who slam doors!
Introduction to The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts
I call you bad, my little child,
Upon the title page,
Because a manner rude and wild
Is common at your age.
The Moral of this priceless work
(If rightly understood)
Will make you -- from a little Turk -Unnaturally good.
Do not as evil children do,
Who on the slightest grounds
Will imitate the Kangaroo,
With wild unmeaning bounds:
Do not as children badly bred,
Who eat like little Hogs,
And when they have to go to bed
Will whine like Puppy Dogs:
Who take their manners from the Ape,
Their habits from the Bear,
Indulge the loud unseemly jape,
And never brush their hair.
But so control your actions that
Your friends may all repeat.
"This child is dainty as the Cat,
And as the Owl discreet."
The Vulture
The Vulture eats between his meals,
And that's the reason why
He very, very, rarely feels
As well as you and I.
His eye is dull, his head is bald,
His neck is growing thinner.
Oh! what a lesson for us all
To only eat at dinner!
There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo-But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.
You know--or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so-That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!
He hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted ``Hi!''
The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
``Ponto!'' he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
``Ponto!'' he cried, with angry Frown,
``Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!''
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!
When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:-His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, ``Well--it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!''
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.
Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably
A trick that everyone abhors
In little girls is slamming doors.
A wealthy banker's little daughter
Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater
(By name Rebecca Offendort),
Was given to this furious sport.
She would deliberately go
And slam the door like billy-o!
To make her uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart,
But only rather rude and wild;
She was an aggravating child...
It happened that a marble bust
Of Abraham was standing just
Above the door this little lamb
Had carefully prepared to slam,
And down it came! It knocked her flat!
It laid her out! She looked like that.
Her funeral sermon (which was long
And followed by a sacred song)
Mentioned her virtues, it is true,
But dwelt upon her vices too,
And showed the deadful end of one
Who goes and slams the door for fun.
The children who were brought to hear
The awful tale from far and near
Were much impressed, and inly swore
They never more would slam the door,
-- As often they had done before.
Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) was an English hymnwriter, theologian and
logician. He is credited with writing over 750 hymns, many of which are still sung today.
His poem, Love Between Brothers and Sisters is an ode to the ideal conduct of siblings for
peace in the family home.
Love Between Brothers and Sisters
Whatever brawls disturb the street,
There should be peace at home;
Where sisters dwell and brothers meet,
Quarrels should never come.
Birds in their little nests agree;
And 'tis a shameful sight,
When children of one family
Fall out and chide and fight.
Hard names at first, and threatening words
That are but noisy breath,
May grow to clubs and naked swords,
To murder and to death.
The devil tempts one mother's son
To rage against another.
So wicked Cain was hurried on,
'Til he had killed his brother.
The wise will let their anger cool
At least before 'tis night!
But in the bosom of a fool
It burns 'til morning light.
Pardon, oh Lord, our childish rage,
Our little brawls remove,
That as we grow to riper age,
Our hearts may all be love.
Colley Cibber
Colley Cibber (6 November 1671 – 11 December 1757) was an English actor-manager,
playwright and Poet Laureate.
His poem, The Blind Boy is a thought-provoking rhyme explaining that the boy of the title feels
he should not be pitied.
The Blind Boy
O SAY what is that thing call’d Light,
Which I must ne’er enjoy;
What are the blessings of the sight,
O tell your poor blind boy!
You talk of wondrous things you see,
You say the sun shines bright;
I feel him warm, but how can he
Or make it day or night?
My day or night myself I make
Whene’er I sleep or play;
And could I ever keep awake
With me ’twere always day.
With heavy sighs I often hear
You mourn my hapless woe;
But sure with patience I can bear
A loss I ne’er can know.
Then let not what I cannot have
My cheer of mind destroy:
Whilst thus I sing, I am a king,
Although a poor blind boy.
Lewis Carrol
Lewis Carrol 27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge
Dodgson. He was an English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer,
best known for writing Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
The poems of Carrol included in this anthology fall into the category of “literary nonsense”.
Jabberwocky is presented in Through the Looking Glass during an early scene in which she
encounters the White King and Queen.
How Doth the Little Crocodile describes a crafty crocodile who lures fishes into it’s mouth by
means of a welcoming smile, while You are Old, Father William provides whimsical
explanations for the antics of an extraordinary man. Both poems appear in Carrol’s Alice in
Finally, we include A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky. This poem does not receive a proper title
where it appears in Alice’s first adventure, so is commonly known by it’s opening line. It is
considered a tribute to Alice Pleasance Liddell, Carrol’s muse, upon whom Wonderland’s main
character is based.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
How Doth the Little Crocodile
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
You Are Old, Father William
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."
"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?"
"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?"
"You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"
"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."
"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?"
"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"
A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July-Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear-Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream-Lingering in the golden gleam-Life, what is it but a dream?
Mary Hunter Austin
Mary Hunter Austin (September 9, 1868 – August 13, 1934) was an American writer. One of the
early nature writers of the American Southwest.
She is best known for her literary works, though her poem Rathers is a beautiful rhyme
conjuring the imagination of childhood.
I know very well what I’d rather be
If I didn’t always have to be me!
I’d rather be an owl,
A downy feathered owl,
A wink-ity, blink-ity, yellow-eyed owl
In a hole in a hollow tree.
I’d take my dinner in chipmunk town,
And wouldn’t I gobble the field mice down,
If I were a wink-ity, blink-ity owl,
And didn’t always have to be me!
I know very well what I’d like to do
If I didn’t have to do what I do!
I’d go and be a woodpecker,
A rap-ity, tap-ity, red-headed woodpecker
In the top of a tall old tree.
And I’d never take a look
At a lesson or a book,
And I’d scold like a pirate on the sea,
If I only had to do what I like to do,
And didn’t always have to be me!
Or else I’d be an antelope,
A pronghorned antelope,
With lots of other antelope
Skimming like a cloud on a wire-grass plian.
A bounding, bouncing antelope,
You’d never get me back to my desk again!
Or I might be a puma,
A singe-colored puma,
A slinking, sly-foot puma
As fierce as fierce could be!
And I’d wait by the waterholes where antelope drink
In the cool of the morning
And I do
That ever any antelope could get away from me.
But if I were a hunter,
A red Indian hunter –
I’d like to be a hunter, –
I’d have a bow made of juniper wood
From a lightning-blasted tree,
And I’d creep and I’d creep on that puma asleep
A flint tipped arrow,
An eagle feathered arrow,
For a puma kills calves and a puma kills sheep,
And he’d never eat any more antelope
If he once met up with me!
William Brighty Rands
William Brighty Rands (24 December 1823, Chelsea, Middlesex — 23 April 1882) was a British
writer and one of the major authors of nursery rhymes of Victorian era.
Rands worked as a reporter in the House of Commons and published several volumes of
children’s literature anonymously, including Topsy-Turvey World which is a fantastic nonsense
piece including references to well-known nursery rhymes.
Topsy-Turvey World
IF the butterfly courted the bee,
And the owl the porcupine;
If churches were built in the sea,
And three times one was nine;
If the pony rode his master,
If the buttercups ate the cows,
If the cats had the dire disaster
To be worried, sir, by the mouse;
If mamma, sir, sold the baby
To a gypsy for half a crown;
If a gentleman, sir, was a lady,—
The world would be Upside-down!
If any or all of these wonders
Should ever come about,
I should not consider them blunders,
For I should be Inside-out!
Ba-ba, black wool,
Have you any sheep?
Yes, sir, a packfull,
Creep, mouse, creep!
Four-and-twenty little maids
Hanging out the pie,
Out jump’d the honey-pot,
Guy Fawkes, Guy!
Cross latch, cross latch,
Sit and spin the fire;
When the pie was open’d,
The bird was on the brier!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and
He is known for his lyric poetry which has a musical feel, though was criticised for “writing for
the masses”.
The Arrow and the Song is a thoughtful poem about the flight of a boy’s arrow. There was a
Little Girl is a cautionary tale for little girls who are naughty. It is often known only for the first
verse, though we have presented this poem in its entirety.
The Arrow and the Song
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
There was a little girl
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very good indeed,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
One day she went upstairs,
When her parents, unawares,
In the kitchen were occupied with meals,
And she stood upon her head
In her little trundle-bed,
And then began hooraying with her heels.
Her mother heard the noise,
And she thought it was the boys
A-playing at a combat in the attic;
But when she climbed the stair,
And found Jemima there,
She took and she did spank her most emphatic.
Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American author,
poet, editor and literary critic. He is best known for his stories of the mysterious and macabre.
The Raven is one of Poe’s best known poems. It tells the spooky story of a lonely man’s
encounter with a raven, and is an ideal prose to share with children on Halloween.
The Raven
ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is, and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"—here I opened wide the door;——
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."
But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never—nevermore.'"
But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by angels whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting—
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!
Christina Rosetti
Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894) was an English poet who
wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. She is well known for writing the
Christmas carol, In the Bleak Midwinter.
The Rainbow is a poem of innocence reflecting on the beauty of a rainbow. Colour is useful in
drawing attention to the myriad of colours which exist in nature.
The short poem, What are Heavy? encourages philosophical thought, while Flint helps us
realise that even dull items have hidden usefulness.
The Rainbow
Boats sail on the rivers,
And ships sail on the seas;
But clouds that sail across the sky
Are prettier than these.
There are bridges on the rivers,
As pretty as you please;
But the bow that bridges heaven,
And overtops the trees,
And builds a road from earth to sky,
Is prettier far than these.
What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!
What are heavy
What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief? today and tomorrow:
What are frail? spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep? the ocean and truth.
An emerald is as green as grass,
A ruby red as blood;
A sapphire shines as blue as heaven;
A flint lies in the mud.
A diamond is a brillant stone,
To catch the world's desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
But a flint holds fire.
Kenneth Grahame
Kenneth Grahame (8 March 1859 – 6 July 1932) was a Scottish writer, most famous for The
Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature.
His poem, A Song of Toad features the character of Toad from this classic book and suggests his
feeling of self-importance.
A Song of Toad
The world has held great Heroes,
As history-books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared to that of Toad!
The clever men at Oxford
Know all there is to be knowed.
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad!
The animals sat in the ark and cried,
Their tears in torrents flowed.
Who was it said, ‘There’s land ahead’?
Encouraging Mr Toad!
The Army all saluted
As they marched along the road.
Was it the King? Or Kitchener?
No. It was Mr Toad.
The Queen and her ladies-in-waiting
Sat at the window and sewed.
She cried, ‘Look! Who’s that handsome man?’
They answered, ‘Mr Toad.’
The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop
As it raced along the road.
Who was it steered it into a pond?
Ingenious Mr Toad!
Jane and Ann Taylor
Jane Taylor (23 September 1783 – 13 April 1824) and her sister, Ann (30 January 1782 - 20
December 1866) were sisters and poets who together wrote a collection of poetry named Rhymes
for the Nursery.
Jane is credited for writing the poem The Star, which is now better known as the lullaby, Twinkle
Twinkle Little Star. My Mother was written by Ann, and is a beautiful tribute for any mother to
hear aloud.
The Star
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
'Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark.
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
How I wonder what you are.
My Mother
Who sat and watched my infant head
When sleeping on my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
My Mother.
When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gazed upon my heavy eye,
And wept for fear that I should die?
My Mother.
Who taught my infant lips to pray
And love God’s holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way?
My Mother.
And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who wast so very kind to me,
My Mother?
Ah, no! the thought I cannot bear,
And if God please my life to spare
I hope I shall reward they care,
My Mother.
When thou art feeble, old and grey,
My healthy arm shall be thy stay,
And I will soothe thy pains away,
My Mother.
Eugene Field
Eugene Field, Sr. (September 2, 1850 – November 4, 1895) was an American writer, best known
for his children's poetry and humorous essays.
His poem, The Sugar Plum Tree is a whimsical allegory intended to be told at bedtime,
involving a tree of delicious fruit which can only be discovered while sleeping.
The Sugar Plum Tree
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.
When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog prowls below--And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:
You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb unto that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--Hurrah for that chocolate cat!
There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.
Abbie Farwell Brown
Abbie Farwell Brown (August 21, 1871 – March 5, 1927) was an American author who wrote
poetry and children’s literature, among other genres.
We’ve included two of her better known poems in this anthology: The Fisherman,detailing the
encounter of a child with a man of the sea, and Friends, which reminds us of the calmness nature
can bring in the absence of company.
The Fisherman
The fisherman goes out at dawn
When every one’s abed,
And from the bottom of the sea
Draws up his daily bread.
His life is strange ; half on the shore
And half upon the sea —
Not quite a fish, and yet not quite
The same as you and me.
The fisherman has curious eyes ;
They make you feel so queer,
As if they had seen many things
Of wonder and of fear.
They’re like the sea on foggy days, —
Not gray, nor yet quite blue ;
They ‘re like the wondrous tales he tells
Not quite — yet maybe — true.
He knows so much of boats and tides,
Of winds and clouds and sky !
But when I tell of city things,
He sniffs and shuts one eye !
How good to lie a little while
And look up through the tree!
The Sky is like a kind big smile
Bent sweetly over me.
The Sunshine flickers through the lace
Of leaves above my head,
And kisses me upon the face
Like Mother, before bed.
The Wind comes stealing o’er the grass
To whisper pretty things;
And though I cannot see him pass,
I feel his careful wings.
So many gentle Friends are near
Whom one can scarcely see,
A child should never feel a fear,
Wherever he may be.
George Macdonald
George MacDonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and
Christian minister who was best known for his fairy tales and fantasy novels.
His beautifully simple poem, Baby, is an ideal rhyme to celebrate the birth of a new child. It is
extracted from his serialised children’s book, At the Back of the North Wind.
Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.
Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry twinkles left in.
Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.
What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.
Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.
Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.
Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.
Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs' wings.
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and
poet. He was seen as a champion of individualism, and wrote dozens of essays to criticise the
pressures of his society.
The Mountain and the Squirrel was written to express that no-one is either superior or inferior
in this world,and that each of us has our own unique skills which others may not posess.
The Mountain and the Squirrel
The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter “Little Prig.”
Bun replied,
“You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I’m not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry,
I’ll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut.”
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was a short-story writer, poet,
and novelist,best remembered for his fictional collection,The Jungle Book. He was born in
Bombay,India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old.
Playing Robinson Crusoe is an imaginative poem about a boy acting out his favourite story with
the help of his pet cat and dog.
If- is a truly memorable poem about stoicism and self-control, and is often voted Britain’s
favourite poem.
Playing Robinson Crusoe
Pussy can sit by the fire and sing,
Pussy can climb a tree,
Or play with a silly old cork and string
To 'muse herself, not me.
But I like Binkie, my dog, because
He knows how to behave;
So, Binkie's the same as the First Friend was,
And I am the Man in the Cave.
Pussy will play Man-Friday till
It's time to wet her paw
And make her walk on the window-sill
(For the footprint Crusoe saw);
Then she fluffles her tail and mews,
And scratches and won't attend.
But Binkie will play whatever I choose,
And he is my true First Friend.
Pussy will rub my knees with her head,
Pretending she loves me hard;
But the very minute I go to my bed
Pussy runs out in the yard.
And there she stays till the morning light;
So I know it is only pretend;
But Binkie, he snores at my feet all night,
And he is my Firstest Friend!
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Emily Brontë
Emily Jane Brontë (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848) was an English novelist and poet. She is
best remembered for her solitary novel, Wuthering Heights, which is now considered a classic of
English literature. Emily was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings, between the
youngest Anne and her brother Branwell, and wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell.
Her poem, Past, Present, Future presents the innocence of a child’s perspective of time using
nature as descriptive metaphors.
Past, Present, Future
Tell me, tell me, smiling child,
What the past is like to thee?
‘An Autumn evening soft and mild
With a wind that sighs mournfully.’
Tell me, what is the present hour?
‘A green and flowery spray
Where a young bird sits gathering it’s power
To mount and fly away.’
And what is the future, happy one?
‘A sea beneath a cloudless sun;
A mighty, glorious, dazzling sea
Stretching into infinity.’
Clement Clarke Moore
Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) was a Professor of Oriental and Greek
Moore’s infamous poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas was initially published anonymously in the
New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823 and was frequently reprinted. Eventually he admitted
authorship of the poem in 1844 at the insistence of his children (for whom it had been written).
A Visit from St. Nicholas
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a minature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:
"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
"To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Anonymous Authors
We do not know the authors of the poems which appear in this section: they have either been
passed down through generations through oral tradition, or were simply published by anonymous
Old Mother Hubbard is a classic nursery rhyme often considered to be the work of Sarah
Catherine Martin, though she claims to have only illustrated her version and that the poem was
based on an earlier work.
Ladybird Ladybird is a traditional rhyme with many variants which dates back as far as 1744,
where it was discovered in a collection of nursery rhymes.
Remember Remember the Fifth of November is a homage to the grim antics of Guy Fawkes
who was arrested for treason after a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
The Days of the Month is a mnemonic to help us remember how many days there are in each
month of the year.
Finally, we present Mr. Nobody: an amusing rhyme to explain who really getsup to no-good at
home ,a delight for modern children who would prefer not to admit their own mischief!
Old Mother Hubbard
Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
She went to the baker's
To buy him some bread;
When she came back
The dog was dead!
She went to the undertaker's
To buy him a coffin;
When she came back
The dog was laughing.
She took a clean dish
to get him some tripe;
When she came back
He was smoking his pipe.
She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer;
When she came back
The dog sat in a chair.
She went to the tavern
For white wine and red;
When she came back
The dog stood on his head.
She went to the fruiterer's
To buy him some fruit;
When she came back
He was playing the flute.
She went to the tailor's
To buy him a coat;
When she came back
He was riding a goat.
She went to the hatter's
To buy him a hat;
When she came back
He was feeding her cat.
She went to the barber's
To buy him a wig
When she came back
He was dancing a jig.
She went to the cobbler's
To buy him some shoes;
When she came back
He was reading the news.
She went to the sempstress
To buy him some linen;
When she came back
The dog was spinning.
She went to the hosier's
To buy him some hose;
When she came back
He was dressed in his clothes.
The Dame made a curtsy,
The dog made a bow;
The Dame said, Your servant;
The dog said, Bow-wow.
This wonderful dog
Was Dame Hubbard's delight,
He could read, he could dance,
He could sing, he could write;
She gave him rich dainties
Whenever he fed,
And erected this monument
When he was dead.
Ladybird Ladybird
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.
Remember Remember the Fifth of November
Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I see of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
The Days of the Month
Thirty days has September
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Except for February, alone
Which has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
Mr. Nobody
I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.
’Tis he who always tears out books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.
The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill; the boots
That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
To Mr. Nobody.
About this book
The poetry selected for inclusion in Rollicking Rhyme are classic works by authors of days gone
by, chosen for their appeal to children of all ages.
All of the poems and images included in this book are sourced from the Public Domain, for
which the copyright has expired because 70 (or more) years have passed since the creator’s
With the exception of the front cover, all images and photographs used in this eBook were
sourced from Wikimedia Commons. The front cover was designed by Amanda Kennedy
( specifically for the purpose of this eBook.
Rollicking Rhyme is published under the CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license. This means that
you are free to copy, modify, distribute and perform the work without asking permission.
About the Editor
Amanda Kennedy is a mum of three, a professional blogger and designer who lives in the UK.
She holds an Honors degree in English Language and Literature and is a lifelong lover of poetry.
Amanda has written several eBooks on various subjects and writes about parenting at
Index of first lines
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
A Light exists in Spring
An emerald is as green as grass,
As he trudged along to school
A trick that everyone abhors
A was once an apple pie
Boats sail on the rivers
From breakfast on through all the day
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
How doth the little crocodile
How good to lie a little while
I call you bad, my little child
IF the butterfly courted the bee
If you can keep your head when all about you
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me
I know a funny little man,
I know very well what I’d rather be
In winter I get up at night
I shot an arrow into the air
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
Let me see if Philip can
Old Mother Hubbard
ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and...
O SAY what is that thing call’d Light
Pussy can sit by the fire and sing
Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Sweet dreams form a shade
Tell me, tell me, smiling child
The fisherman goes out at dawn
The mountain and the squirrel
There was a Boy whose name was Jim
There was a little girl
There was a naughty boy
The Vulture eats between his meals
The world has held great Heroes
Thirty days has September
Through the house what busy joy
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
Tyger Tyger, burning bright
Whatever brawls disturb the street
What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow
What is pink? a rose is pink
When I was down beside the sea
When I was sick and lay a-bed
Where did you come from, baby dear?
Who sat and watched my infant head
Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to...
"You are old, Father William," the young man said...