Saturday, 9 June 2007


At school, aged about ten, we had a poetry book with a peacok blue back, I can't remember what it was called, but I do know they were a set of old poetry books by the time we were using them. They were full of swashbuckling verses, whimsical verses and wonderful Edwardian and later nonsense poetry, some quite grizzley.
I loved Rebecca, as if I got very cross as a child I had a penchant for slamming doors myself, and it was a warning to me.


[Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably]


Hilaire Belloc

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 the furious sport.

She would deliberately go
And slam the door like Billy-Ho!
To make her Uncle Jacob start.
[She was not really bad at heart.]

It happened that a marble bust
Of Abraham was standing just
Above the door the 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 dreadful end of one
Who goes and slams the door for fun!


This is the Hilaire Belloc poem from that same poetry book that I recited at my class concert I loved this poem, and especially loved reciting with relish the line 'little liar'. The thought of adult's saying that in a sniffy way to child asking for help was delicious.


[Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death]


Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such dreadful lies,
It made one gasp and stretch one's eyes;
Her aunt, who, from her earliest youth,
Had kept a strict regard for truth,

Attempted to believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not she
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the telephone.

And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London's noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs and Bow,
With courage high and hearts a-glow.

They galloped, roaring though the town,
'Matilda's house is burning down!'
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the ball-room Floor;
And took peculiar pains to souse
The pictures up and down the house,

Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away!

It happened that a few weeks later
Here Aunt went off to the Theatre
To see that interesting Play
'The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.'

She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That night a fire did break out-
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her scream and bawl,
And throw the window up and call

To People passing in the Street-
The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence-but it was all in vain!
For every time she shouted "Fire!"
They only answered "Little liar!"
And therefore when her Aunt returned,

Matilda, and the house, were burned.



My very favorite poem from childhood is one I still recite - my fairy-nieces acted it out one night on the large front 'porch' in Italy whilst I recited it dramatically from the doorway:



Lewis Carroll

'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.


Another one of my childhood favorites was The Pobble, I apparently really enjoyed nonsensical stories.

The Pobble Who Has No Toes


Edward Lear

The Pobble who has no toes

Had once as many as we;

When they said, 'Some day you may lose them all;'--

He replied, -- 'Fish fiddle de-dee!'

And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink,

Lavender water tinged with pink,

For she said, 'The World in general knows

There's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!'

The Pobble who has no toes,

Swam across the Bristol Channel;

But before he set out he wrapped his nose,

In a piece of scarlet flannel.

For his Aunt Jobiska said, 'No harm'

Can come to his toes if his nose is warm;'

And it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes

'Are safe, -- provided he minds his nose.'

The Pobble swam fast and well

And when boats or ships came near him

He tinkedly-binkledy-winkled a bell

So that all the world could hear him.

And all the Sailors and Admirals cried,

When they saw him nearing the further side,--

'He has gone to fish, for his Aunt Jobiska's

'Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!'

But before he touched the shore,

The shore of the Bristol Channel,

A sea-green Porpoise carried away

His wrapper of scarlet flannel.

And when he came to observe his feet

Formerly garnished with toes so neat

His face at once became forlorn

On perceiving that all his toes were gone!

And nobody ever knew

From that dark day to the present,

Whoso had taken the Pobble's toes,

In a manner so far from pleasant.

Whether the shrimps or crawfish gray,

Or crafty Mermaids stole them away--

Nobody knew; and nobody knows

How the Pobble was robbed of his twice five toes!

The Pobble who has no toes

Was placed in a friendly Bark,

And they rowed him back, and carried him up'

To his Aunt Jobiska's Park.

And she made him a feast at his earnest wish

Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish;--

And she said,-- 'It's a fact the whole world knows,

'That Pobbles are happier without their toes.'


Thursday, 7 June 2007


This poem is my contribution to the event "Poems we love as children."It's from one of my very favorite poets: ee cummins and I choose this poem because is about the magic of the sea. As a child, the ocean was the most fascinating thing in this world for me. Water is my element, I am a piscis. And I like to think sometimes that I am mermaid, a tall two legs mermaid, LOL.I am so lucky to say that I have lived almost all of my life very close to the beach so close that the waves can lullaby me and some nights, they kept me awake in my bedroom.

magie and milly and molly and may

ee cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea


Tuesday, 5 June 2007


Shel Silverstein was my favorite when I was young and he was also my own children’s favorite. His poetry would really make you think he really wrote it about you. I espiecally could relate to
Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout because as a child my room was always messy. And when my children were young I would read it to them when they wouldn’t clean up their rooms. Shel died in 1999 of a heart attack at the age of 66.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.


Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!


Monday, 4 June 2007


I must add another of my favorite childhood poems. Obviously, I was attracted to repetition and alliteration, and romantic death.

Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide,
I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.


This is a poem that we learnt as children - it is an Australian poem. this is the poem in full - we learnt the verse in red - which is the verse that is so well known. (the first verse is apparently referring to England.

Dorothy Mackellar
The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies -
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Sunday, 3 June 2007


Mary Webb is a favourite 'country' poet. She was born and raised in the West Midlands, where I am originally from.

Mary Webb
The fairy people flouted me,
Mocked me, shouted me--
They chased me down the dreamy hill and beat me with a wand.
Within the wood they found me, put spells on me and bound me
And left me at the edge of day in John the miller's pond.Beneath the eerie starlight
Their hair shone curd-white;
Their bodies were all twisted like a lichened apple-tree;
Feather-light and swift they moved,
And never one the other loved,
For all were full of ancient dreams and dark designs on me.With noise of leafy singing
And white wands swinging,
They marched away amid the grass that swayed to let them through.
Between the yellow tansies
Their eyes, like purple pansies,
Peered back on me before they passed all trackless in the dew.

This is a late addition to Daisy Lupin's Poetry Fest...I loved this poem and everything else by Walter de la Mare. Some of his other poems have already been chosen by contributors to Daisy's Poetry Fest and I urge anyone not familiar with him to read them . It always stirred my imagination as a child and does to this day...

'The Listeners'
Walter de la Mare

Is there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
'Is there anybody there?' he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head;
'Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Saturday, 2 June 2007


My daughter, Sweetpea, has emailed me and asked if she could contribute to my Poetry Fest, of course, I said yes. She then went on to tell me off as I had already posted her favourite poem The Jumblies by Edward Lear. These are her childhood favourites that she emailed me.

I can remember her reading and reciting this poem over and over again.

Please Mrs Butler


Alan Ahlberg

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps copying my work, Miss.
What shall I do?
Go and sit in the hall, dear.
Go and sit in the sink.
Take your books on the roof, my lamb.
Do whatever you think.

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps taking my rubber, Miss.
What shall I do?
Keep it in your hand, dear.
Hide it up your vest.
Swallow it if you like, love.
Do what you think best.

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps calling me rude names,
Miss.What shall I do?
Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.
Run away to sea.
Do whatever you can, my flower.
But don't ask me!


Sweetpea says she adored this one, that really turns the table on the Little Red Riding Hood Story, obviously her favourite line was and whipped a pistol from her knickers. The idea of the word knickers and whipping out a pistol from them being part of the poem delighted her

Little Red RidingHood and the Wolf
from Revolting Rhymes
Roald Dahl

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?
"Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!"
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
"I've got to have a second helping!"
Then added with a frightful leer,
"I'm therefore going to wait right here
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood.
"He quickly put on Grandma's clothes,
(Of course he hadn't eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that,

He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma's chair.
In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared.
And then she said,
"What great big ears you have, Grandma."
"All the better to hear you with,"the Wolf replied
"What great big eyes you have,
Grandma."said Little Red Riding Hood
"All the better to see you with,"the Wolf replied.
He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I'm going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma,
She's going to taste like caviar.
Then Little Red Riding Hood said,
"But Grandma, what a lovely great big furry coat you have on."
"That's wrong!" cried Wolf."Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I've got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I'm going to eat you anyway."
The small girl smiles.
One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head,
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change!
No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, "Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat."


Sweetpea's, favourite cake flavour, so you can imagine why she loved this poem

Chocolate Cake
Michael Rosen

I love chocolate cake.
And when I was a boy
I loved it even more.
Sometimes we used to have it for tea
and Mum used to say,
'If there's any left overyou can have it to take to school
tomorrow to have at playtime.'
And the next day I would take it to school
wrapped up in tin foil
open it up at playtimeand sit in the corner of the playground
eating it,you know how the icing on top
is all shiny and it cracks as you bite into it,
and there's that other kind of icing inthe middle
and it sticks to your hands and you
can lick your fingers
and lick your lips
oh it's lovely.yeah.
Anyway,once we had this chocolate cake for tea
and later I went to bed
but while I was in bed
I found myself waking up
licking my lips
and smiling.
I woke up proper.
'The chocolate cake.'It was the first thing
I thought of.
I could almost see it
so I thought,what if I go downstairs
and have a little nibble, yeah?
It was all dark
everyone was in bed
so it must have been really late
but I got out of bed,crept out of the door
there's always a creaky floorboard, isn't there?
Past Mum and Dad's room,
careful not to tread on bits of broken toys
or bits of Lego
you know what it's like treading on Lego
with your bare feet,
into the kitchen
open the cupboardand there it is
all shining.
So I take it out of the cupboard
put it on the table
and I see that
there's a few crumbs lying about on the plate,
so I lick my finger and run my finger all over the crumbs
scooping them up
and put them into my mouth.
I look again
and on one side where it's been cut,
it's all crumbly.
So I take a knifeI think I'll just tidy that up a bit,
cut off the crumbly bits
scoop them all up
and into the mouth
oooooommm mmmmnice.
Look at the cake again.
That looks a bit funny now,
one side doesn't match the other
I'll just even it up a bit, eh?
Take the knife
and slice.
This time the knife makes a little cracky noise
as it goes through that hard icing on top.
A whole slice this time,into the mouth.
Oh the icing on top
and the icing in the middleohhhhhh oooo mmmmmm.
But now
I can't stop myself

Knife -I just take any old slice at it
and I've got this great big chunk
and I'm cramming it in
what a greedy pig
but it's so nice,
and there's another
and another and I'm squealing and I'm smacking my lips
and I'm stuffing myself with it
before I know
I've eaten the lot.
The whole lot.
I look at the plate.
It's all gone.
Oh no
they're bound to notice, aren't they,
a whole chocolate cake doesn't just disappear
does it?
What shall I do?
I know. I'll wash the plate up,
and the knife
and put them away and maybe no one
will notice, eh?
to bedinto bed
doze off
licking my lips
with a lovely feeling in my belly.
In the morning I get up,downstairs,
have breakfast,
Mum's saying,
'Have you got your dinner money?
'and I say,'Yes.'
'And don't forget to take some chocolate cake with you.'
'I stopped breathing'.
'What's the matter,' she says,
'you normally jump at chocolate cake?
'I'm still not breathing,
and she's looking at me very closely now.
She's looking at me just below my mouth.
'What's that?' she says.
'What's what?' I say.
'What's that there?'
'There,' she says, pointing at my chin.
'I don't know,' I say.
'It looks like chocolate,' she says.
'It's not chocolate is it?
'No answer.'
Is it?''
'I don't know.'
She goes to the cupboard
looks in, up, top, middle, bottom,
turns back to me.
'It's gone.
It's gone.
You haven't eaten it, have you?'
'I don't know.'
'You don't know. You don't know if you've eaten a whole
chocolate cake or not?
When? When did you eat it?'
So I told her,
and she said
well what could she say?
'That's the last time I give you any cake to take
to school.
Now go. Get out
no wait
not before you've washed your dirty sticky face.
'I went upstairs
looked in the mirror
and there it was,just below my mouth,
a chocolate smudge.
The give-away.
Maybe she'll forget about it by next week.

This poem really appealed to Sweetpea, as everyone knows the poor supply teacher is usually told a lot of nonsense by the kids. She and her friend Jemma were experts at it.

The Supply Teacher
Alan Ahlberg

Here's the rule for what to do
If ever your teacher has the flu
Or for some other reason takes to her bed
And a different teacher comes instead
When the visiting teacher hangs up her hat
Writes the date on the board, does this or that
Always remember, you have to say this,
OUR teacher never does that, Miss!
When you want to change places or wander about
Or feel like getting the guinea pig out
Never forget, the message is this,
OUR teacher always lets us, Miss!
Then, when your teacher returns next day
And complains about the paint or clay
Remember these words, you just say this:
That OTHER teacher told us to, Miss!


I finally remembered one that always appealed to me. Looking back, I can see that I was always in love with color!

What is Pink?
Christina Rossetti

What is pink? a rose is pink
By the 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!

Friday, 1 June 2007


One of my favorite poems is listed below. My parents bought us the World Book Encyclopedia set when we were children. Along with the encyclopedias came a 15-volume set of children's stories, fairy tales and poems. How we pored over those volumes, especially me. They were well worn and much loved, and repaid my parents' investment many times over.

I must have been in my older childhood years when I read The Highwayman - a time when romance had entered my dreams, and dying for a loved one seemed a noble purpose indeed. However, I was still young enough to blush at the barrel beneath her breast.I loved the repetition - not only words but entire lines. And such imagery: the moon a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, the road a Gypsy's ribbon looping the purple moor, Bess plaiting a dark red love knot in her long dark hair.And who could forget dramatic lines like these? Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat, When they shot him down on the highway, Down like a dog on the highway, And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

The Highwayman

Alfred Noyes

Part One


The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor,

And the highwayman came riding-


The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,

A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;

They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!

And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,

His pistol butts a-twinkle,

His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.


Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,

And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;

He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there

But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Bess, the landlord's daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


And dark in the old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked

Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;

His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,

But he loved the landlord's daughter,

The landlord's red-lipped daughter,

Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say-


"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,

But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;

Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,

Then look for me by moonlight,

Watch for me by moonlight,

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."


He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,

But she loosened her hair i' the casement!

His face burnt like a brand

As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;

And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,

(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)

Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

Part Two


He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;

And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,

When the road was a Gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor

,A red-coat troop came marching-


King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.


They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,

But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;

Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!

There was death at every window;

And hell at one dark window;

For Bess could see, through the casement, the road that he would ride.


They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;

They bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!

"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her

.She heard the dead man say-

Look for me by moonlight;

Watch for me by moonlight;

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!


She twisted her hands behind her;

but all the knots held good!

She writhed her hands till here fingers were wet with sweat or blood!

They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by likeyears,

Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,

Cold, on the stroke of midnight,

The tip of one finger touched it!

The trigger at least was hers!


The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!

Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,

She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;

For the road lay bare in the moonlight;

Blank and bare in the moonlight;

And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.


Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it?

The horse-hoofsringing clear;

Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance?

Were they deaf that they didnot hear?

Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,

The highwayman came riding,

Riding, riding!

The red-coats looked to their priming!

She stood up strait and still!


Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence!

Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!

Nearer he came and nearer!

Her face was like a light!

Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,

Then her finger moved in the moonlight,

Her musket shattered the moonlight,

Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him-with her death.


He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood

Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!

Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear

How Bess, the landlord's daughter,

The landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.


Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,

With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!

Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,

When they shot him down on the highway,

Down like a dog on the highway,

And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

* * * * * *


And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,

When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

A highwayman comes riding-


A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.


Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,

And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;

He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there

But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Bess, the landlord's daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.



The poems I loved as a child were by Robert Louis Stevenson in A Child's Garden of Verses. My Great Aunty Sally, who was my mother's aunt, gave me this book for my birthday one year. I was reminded of it when I read Pinkerton's Sister (wonderful book, full of allusions that brought back so many memories including this book of verses). Unfortunately I can no longer find the original book she gave me and so last year I bought this edition.There are so many poems in here that I liked that it's hard to choose just one. So, I 've picked three.

This one I learnt and used to recite as fast as I could, trying to imitate the speed of a train:

From a Railway Carriage
R.L Stevenson
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Another favourite was:

Windy Nights



Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?
Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he;
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

I could go on and on, but I'll finish with this, which was so true for me as a child. Other children would be playing in the road, but I had to go to bed (well they were a bit older than me) and I would look out of the window and wish I was outside with them. This brings it all back!

Bed in Summer
In winter I get up at night
And dress in yellow candlelight.
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?


A favourite childhood poem.

Over in the Meadow

Over in the meadow on a log in the sun lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one.
"crawl" said the mother,
"I crawl" said the one
so they crawled and were glad on a log in the sun

Over in the meadow where the streams run blue
Lived an old mother fish and her little fishes two
"Swim" said the Mother"We Swim " said the two
So they swam and were happy where the stream runs blue.

Over in the meadowIn a hole in a tree,
Lived an old mother bluebird,And her little birdies three
"Sing!" said the mother,"We sing!" said the three,
So they sang and were glad,In a hole in the tree.

Over in the meadowby a tall Sycamore
Lived an old mother rabbit and her little rabbits four
"Play," said the Mother "We play", said the four
So they played in the shadow by the tall Sycamore

Over in the meadow in a new little hive
Lived a mother Queen bee and her little bees five.
"Hum," said the mother, "We hum" said the five
So they hummed and hummed in their new little hive.

Over in the meadow,In a nest built of sticks,
Lived a black mother crow,And her little crows six,
"Caw!" said the mother;"We caw!" said the six,
So they cawed and they called,In their nest built of sticks.

Over in the meadow,Where the grass is so even,
Lived a gay mother cricket,And her little crickets seven,
"Chirp!" said the mother;"We chirp!" said the seven,
So they chirped cheery notes,In the grass soft and even.

Over in the meadow,By the old mossy gate,
Lived a brown mother lizard,And her little lizards eight,
"Bask!" said the mother;"We bask!" said the eight,
So they basked in the sun,On the old mossy gate.

Over in the meadow,Where the quiet pools shine,
Lived a pretty mother frog,And her little froggies nine,
"Croak!" said the mother;"We croak!" said the nine,
So they croaked and they splashed,Where the quiet pools shine.

Over in the meadow.In a sly little den,
Lived a gray mother spider,And her little spiders ten,
"Spin!" said the mother;"We spin!" said the ten,
So they spun lacy webs,In their sly little den.

----THE END----


I love this poem by the Irish Poet, William Allingham, who has written about the darker side of Faeries. This poem used to thrill me as a child. It was in a poetry book I had and I read it so much that the book used to fall open at that page. I wish I could find the illustration that went with it, it was fantastic.

The Fairies
William Allingham

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!


This is from a super book of poetry called Rhyme and Reason, we did for O-Level.

The Learn'd Astronomer
Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.


Now, as I've mentioned before, I'm not a great fan of poetry but, when I was a child at primary school, we had to learn poems by heart and recite them in class. One of those was Browning's Home Thoughts From Abroad which I posted in April. Another was one that wouldn't immediately spring to mind as a poem for children but somehow it has stuck in my mind for all these years and I can still recite the first bit of it from memory. I think it's the vision of his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold that caught my imagination, I could see the rich purple cloth and the sun glinting off the armour. Each verse creates an immediate and vivid picture in my mind. I love the rhythmn of it too so here is:

The Destruction of Sennacherib
Lord Byron

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed on the face of the foe as he passed:
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!


The description of a battlefield is still relevant today I think.


Reading yesterday I saw Daisy Lupin, fellow glitter sister has set up a chilhood poetry fest site. This got me thinking!A poem I remember from primary school was Silver by Walter Dela Mare.I can picture the rows of old wooden desks, My teachers, Miss Clark, Mrs Kirkup then Mr. Pallister! I will tell you sometime about Mr. Pallister, but not right now as I am thinking of nice things about my school. Poetry was always one of my favourites.I guess Walter de la Mare would have been quite fashionable at the time. Judging by the fact he died in 1956, his poetry must have been quite contemporary.

Walter de la Mare

SilverSlowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.


Years later I bought a book of poetry by Walter de la mare and came across Old Nod, which is now one of my favourites too. It is so thought provoking and atmospheric, true to the plight of shepherds, their faithful dogs and their devotion to the flock.

The very first dog Jon and I had was a border collie, Tess, named after Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I need to getmy scanner fixed so I can share some photos ....In the meantime I felt this Van Gogh painting was ideal for now.



Walter de la Mare


Softly along the road of evening,
In a twilight dim with rose,
Wrinkled with age, and drenched with dew,
Old Nod the shepherd goes.

His drowsy flock streams on before him,
Their fleeces charged with gold,
To where the sun's last beam leans low
On Nod the the shepherds fold.

The hedge is quick and green with brier,
From their sand the conies creep;
And all the birds that fly in heaven
Flock singing home to sleep

His lambs outnumber a noon's roses,
Yet, when night shadows fall,
His blind old sheep-dog,
Slumber-soon,Misses not one of all.

His are the quiet steps of dreamland,
The waters of no more pain
His ram's bell rings 'neath an arch of stars,
"Rest, Rest, and rest again."

Thursday, 31 May 2007


First of June, First of Winter, today marks the first day of winter here in Australia.

The North Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then?
Poor thing!

He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing.
Poor thing!


Thanks to Daisy for reminding me of the first poems that have stayed with me since childhood. Here's a couple more that have come to mind....

This is the very first I can recall my Dad reciting at me...probably because I had my bottom lip out saying don't care. I can still see the illustration of a surly boy sitting in a pan with his arms and legs dangling over the side. And it always pops back into my mind's eye should I hear someone say I don't care.

Don't care didn't care

Don't care was dumb

Don't care was put in a pot

And boiled till he was done.


Another Favourite was the Owl and the Pussy Cat.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat


Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy Cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar,

"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!"


Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:

But what shall we do for a ring?

"They sailed away, for a year and a day,

To the land where the Bong-tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.


"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.

And another favourite from childhood was Who Killed Cock Robin

The Death and Burial of Cock Robin

Who killed Cock Robin?

I, said the Sparrow,

with my bow and arrow,

I killed Cock Robin.


Who saw him die?

I, said the Fly,

with my little eye,

I saw him die.


Who caught his blood?

I, said the Fish,

with my little dish,

I caught his blood.


Who'll make the shroud?

I, said the Beetle,

with my thread and needle,

I'll make the shroud.


Who'll dig his grave?

I, said the Owl,

with my pick and shovel,

I'll dig his grave.


Who'll be the parson?

I, said the Rook,

with my little book,

I'll be the parson.


Who'll be the clerk?

I, said the Lark,

if it's not in the dark,

I'll be the clerk.


Who'll carry the link?

I, said the Linnet,

I'll fetch it in a minute,

I'll carry the link.


Who'll be chief mourner?

I, said the Dove,

I mourn for my love,

I'll be chief mourner.


Who'll carry the coffin?

I, said the Kite,

if it's not through the night,

I'll carry the coffin.


Who'll bear the pall?

We, said the Wren,

both the cock and the hen,

We'll bear the pall.


Who'll sing a psalm?

I, said the Thrush,

as she sat on a bush,

I'll sing a psalm.


Who'll toll the bell?

I said the bull,

because I can pull,

I'll toll the bell.


All the birds of the air

fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,

when they heard the bell toll

for poor Cock Robin.


Wednesday, 30 May 2007


For many years of my childhood I adored the following poem. It took me into the world of my imagination and I was so besotted with it that I used to make three dimensional jumblies and set them to sea in a sieve. I used to make shoe box scenes of the lands they visited. It was a poem that really set my imagination on fire.

The Jumblies Edward Lear

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round
,And every one cried, 'You'll all be drowned!
'They called aloud, 'Our Sieve ain't big,
But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
In a Sieve we'll go to sea!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,'O won't they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it's extremely wrong
In a Sieve to sail so fast!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, 'How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And all night long they sailed away;And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong'
In the shade of the mountains brown.
'O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart
,And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more
,And every one said, 'How tall they've grown!
For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, 'If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,---
To the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
The following poem is one of those that my Father would recite to me if I asked for a story or was ill in bed with some childhood ailment such as measles. I was always fascinated by smugglers and loved smuggling stories, and the mysterious trips through the night with horses and donkeys with hooves covered in sacking.

A Smuggler's Song by Rudyard Kipling
If you wake at Midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark
-Brandy for the Parson.'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Running round the woodlump, if you chance to find little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brushwood back again - and they'll be gone next day!
Five and twenty ponies...........
If you see the stable door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm - don't you ask no more!
Five and twenty ponies...........
If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you "pretty maid", and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!
Five and twenty ponies...........
If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,
You'll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of pretty lace, and a velvet hood
- A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Five and twenty ponies...........
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie -
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
This is another poem that sent my world of imagination spinning, and I used to draw this lady and try to make dolls of her. I think she was an early icon of mine

Meg Merrilies john keats
Old Meg she was a gypsy;
And liv'd upon the moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors
Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants, pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a church-yard tomb.
Her brothers were the craggy hills,
Her sisters larchen trees;
Alone with her great family
She liv'd as she did please.

No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the moon.
But every morn, of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen yew
She wove, and she would sing.
And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited mats o' rushes,
And gave them to the cottagers
She met among the bushes.
Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen,
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore,
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere —
She died full long agone!
The final poem today is another that my Father would recite and I always seemed to feel the pull of the wind and the sea and could almost smell the brine, I think this poem make me feel the way I do about Cornwall.

Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face
and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again,
for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call
that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day
with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again
to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way
where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn
from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
when the long trick's over