Friday, April 7, 2017

It Is A Poem

I dearly loved school  In one very small town (as in most of them) all grades were in one building. Elementary school had three grades to a room. There were only three girls in my grade.

There were several programs for our parents each year. We performed plays, or sang, or danced, whatever the teacher decided we would do.

My grade was not the only one with a shortage of girls. Often the boys from another grade would need dance partners. Sometimes they would need additional girls for a play. So the girls were called upon to do many different things each time. It was fun

I was in second grade and my teacher recognized that I had a good memory. In addition to the other things I was doing for the program she would often assign a long poem for me to recite. I remember them fondly but of course I can no longer recite them completely.

I believe the first one was The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat by Eugene Field. The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat side by side on the table sat... If you do not know the poem you can do a search for it. It is a cute little poem with a surprise ending.

Another was Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. It was originally titled The Elf Child then renamed to Little Orphant Allie. In a later printing there was a typo and it became Little Orphant Annie forever. It is meant to threaten children into good behavior with the admonition of An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out! 

I Have A Little Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson is a description of a child's shadow. It is light-hearted and fun. 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.

A.A. Milne who wrote Winnie The Pooh also wrote a carefree poem about a child who likes to sit on a step at the middle of the stairs. He likes it there because it is not up and not down. It is a short poem that explains a certain logic.

Hiding by  Dorothy Keeley Aldis really captures the way a child thinks. I'm hiding I'm hiding but no one knows where for all they can see is my toes and my hair. Then the parents begin to search... Have you looked in the inkwell... but I was not there.  It is absolutely enchanting.

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt. "Will you walk into my parlour ?" said the Spider to the fly. The cautious Fly is seduced by the crafty Spider. Can you guess how it ends?

The patriotic Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is probably still taught in most American schools. While not completely factual it is exciting and rouses pride in our country. Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. It is full of action from the beginning.

The Owl And The Pussycat by Edward Lear tells of an owl and a pussycat who are eloping. The Owl and The Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat... It is a beautiful love story.

The Raven by my favorite author Edgar Allen Poe made my mother happy. She loved the alliteration. For those who do not want to look it up alliteration is when the first sounds of several words help convey a setting. And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain givers the feeling of being able to hear the curtain swishing against each other. It is a melancholy tale of a lost love. Most people remember "Quoth the raven, Nevermore."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also wrote The Song Of Hiawatha. It has such a rhythmic primal beat and it was fun to recite. By the shores of Gitchie Gumie by the shining Big Sea Water tells of Hiawatha observing the morning.

There were others but I think you get the idea. I loved that teacher. All of her students did. She gave me an interest in poetry and taught me that it is more than a sing-song group of words. She also told my mother that I was too young at the time but to make sure I was exposed to Shakespeare when i was ready. She was sure I would enjoy it. She was right.

These are all good poems for children. If you like you can begin with shorter poems that they will not lose interest in because they do get wiggly if asked to sit too long. Look them up for yourself as well. They are all great fun.


  1. Our daughter loved poetry as a child too. Such a wonderful way to experience language.

    1. Yes it is. Children love the rhythm of nursery rhymes for instance.

  2. Yes! I also loved to memorize poems!
    Do you know "Grandpa Dropped His Glasses in a pot of dye and when he put them on again he saw a purple sky"?
    I wrote a post about that one if you want to look it up! :-)

    1. I do not know that one but I will shortll. It sounds intriguing.

  3. I know all the poems you mentioned except Hiding. Poetry is one of the things that keep me going. Others seem to prefer NASCAR or partying until dawn. Give me "When I Was One And Twenty" and "Loveliest Of Trees The Cherry Now" by A.E.Houseman or maybe even:

    Jenny kissed me when we met,
    Jumping from the chair she sat in.
    Time, you thief, who love to get
    Sweets into your list, put that in.

    Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
    Say that health and wealth have missed me,
    Say I'm growing old, but add:
    Jenny kissed me.

    1. That last one was by Leigh Hunt who also wrote Abou Ben Adhem that I put in my blog not long ago. I also remember weeping copiously as a child when I read Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field.

  4. You brought back some memories of forgotten poetry. I recall all of them as we, too, had to memorize them. Althogh I only knew A. A. Milne from Winnie the Poo
    stories. That was always one of the favorite bed-time stories for my kids.
    A nice little trip down memory lane.

    1. It makes me happy that you had a good time remembering.

  5. you made my eyes teary by reminding me so many memories from my glorious school days my friend!
    one of my most fav story

  6. Sadly, Emma, I don't think that memorizing poem even many as wonderful as those you mentioned here is a top priority with many youngsters today.

    1. Of course it was about 35 years ago but I was pleased when my niece was learning Little Orphant Annie. She was going to recite it for a school program.