Mix it up!

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, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and 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 watered 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?

Tell me, tell me, Sarah Jane,
Tell me, dearest daughter,
Why are you holding in your hand
A thimbleful of water?
Why do you hold it to your eye
And gaze both late and soon
From early morning light until
The rising of the moon?

Mother, I hear the mermaids cry,
I hear the mermen sing,
And I can see the sailing-ships
All made of sticks and string.
And I can see the jumping fish,
The whales that fall and rise
And swim about the waterspout
That swarms up to the skies. 

Tell me, tell me, Sarah Jane,
Tell your darling mother,
Why do you walk beside the tide
As though you loved none other?
Why do you listen to a shell
And watch the billows curl,
And throw away your diamond ring
And wear instead the pearl?

Mother, I hear the water
Beneath the headland pinned,
And I can see the sea-gull
Sliding down the wind.
I taste the salt upon my tongue
As sweet as sweet can be. 

Tell me, my dear, whose voice you hear?

It is the sea, the sea.

I’ll tell you, shall I, something I remember?
Something that still means a great deal to me.
It was long ago.

A dusty road in summer I remember,
A mountain, and an old house, and a tree
That stood, you know,

Behind the house. An old woman I remember
In a red shawl with a grey cat on her knee
Humming under a tree.

She seemed the oldest thing I can remember,
But then perhaps I was not more than three.
It was long ago.

I dragged on the dusty road, and I remember
How the old woman looked over the fence at me
And seemed to know

How it felt to be three, and called out, I remember
‘Do you like bilberries and cream for tea?’
I went under the tree

And while she hummed, and the cat purred, I remember
How she filled a saucer with berries and cream for me
So long ago,

Such berries and such cream as I remember
I never had seen before, and never see
Today, you know.

And that is almost all I can remember
The house, the mountain, the grey cat on her knee,
Her red shawl, and the tree,

And the taste of the berries, the feel of the sun I remember,
And the smell of everything that used to be
So long ago,

Till the heat on the road outside again I remember,
And how the long dusty road seemed to have for me
No end, you know.

That is the farthest thing I can remember.
It won’t mean much to you. It does to me.
Then I grew up, you see.

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody ever could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

The Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree:
“Jam; and jelly; and bread;
Are the best of food for me!
But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree
The plainer than ever it seems to me
That very few people come this way
And that life on the whole is far from gay!”
Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.

But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,
Mr. and Mrs. Canary;
And they said, — “Did ever you see
Any spot so charmingly airy?
May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?
Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
O please let us come and build a nest
Of whatever material suits you best,
Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”

And besides, to the Crumpetty Tree
Came the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl:
The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,
The Frog, and the Fimble Fowl;
(The Fimble Fowl, with a corkscrew leg;)
And all of them said: “We humbly beg,
We may build out homes on your lovely Hat:
Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”

And the Golden Grouse came there,
And the Pobble who has no toes,
And the small Olympian bear,
And the Dong with a luminous nose.
And the Blue Baboon, who played the flute,
And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute,
And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat,
All came and built on the lovely Hat
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

And the Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree:
“When all these creatures move
What a wonderful noise there’ll be!”
And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon
They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,
On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,
And all were as happy as happy could be,
With the Quangle Wangle Quee.

Teach me the language of Cat;
the slow-motion blink, that crystal stare,
a tight-lipped purr and a wide-mouthed hiss.
Let me walk with a saunter, nose in the air.

Teach my ears the way to ignore
names that I’m called. May they only twitch
to the distant shake of a boxful of biscuits,
the clink of a fork on a china dish.

Teach me that vanishing trick
where dents in cushions appear, and I’m missed.
Show me the high-wire trip along fences
to hideaway places, that no-one but me knows exist.

Don’t teach me Dog,
all eager to please, that slobbers, yaps and begs for a pat,
that sits when told by its owner, that’s led on a lead.
No, not that. Teach me the language of Cat.

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 through.
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!

The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out
Through the blinds and the windows and bars;
And high overhead and all moving about,
There were thousands of millions of stars.
There ne’er were such thousands of leaves on a tree,
Nor of people in church or the Park,
As the crowds of the stars looked down upon me,
And that glittered and winked in the dark.

The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shone in the sky, and the pail by the wall
Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
And they soon had me packed into bed;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
And the stars going round in my head.

No it wasn’t.

It was Nothingmas Eve and all the children in Notown were not
tingling with excitement as they lay unawake in their heaps.

D
o
w
n
s
t
a
i
r
s their parents were busily not placing the last
crackermugs, glimmerslips and sweetlumps on the Nothingmas
Tree.
Hey! But what was that invisible trail of chummy sparks or
vaulting stars across the sky
Father Nothingmas – drawn by 18 or 21 rainmaidens!
Father Nothingmas – his sackbut bulging with air!
Father Nothingmas – was not on his way!
(From the streets of the snowless town came the quiet of
unsung carols and the merry silence of the steeple bell.)

Next morning the children did not fountain out of bed with cries
of WHOOPERATION! They picked up their Nothingmas
Stockings and with traditional quiperamas such as: “Look what
I haven’t got! It’s just what I didn’t want!” pulled their stockings
on their ordinary legs.

For breakfast they ate – breakfast.

After woods they all avoided the Nothingmas Tree, where
Daddy, his face failing to beam like a leaky torch, was not
distributing gemgames, sodaguns, golly-trolleys, jars of
humdrums and packets of slubberated croakers.

Off, off, off, went the children to school, soaking each other with
no howls of “Merry Nothingmas and a Happy No Year!”, and
not pulping each other with no-balls.

At school Miss Whatnot taught them how to write No Thank
You Letters.

Home they burrowed for Nothingmas Dinner.
The table was not groaning under all manner of
NO TURKEY
NO SPICED HAM
NO SPROUTS
NO CRANBERRY JELLYSAUCE
NO NOT NOWT
There was not one (1) shoot of glee as the Nothingmas
Pudding, unlit, was not brought in. Mince pies were not
available, nor was there any demand for them.

Then, as another Nothingmas clobbered to a close, they
haggled off to bed where they slept happily never after.

and that is not the end of the story…

January brings the snow,
makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes loud and shrill,
stirs the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs,
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hand with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the Harvest home is borne.

Warm September brings the fruit,
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are falling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire and Christmas treat.

This poem has four stanzas. You may either recite one stanza on your own, or recite a number of stanzas with other pupils. 

 

There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be–
He 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 followed his nose
To the north.

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetry–
He 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 ghosts
And posts
And witches
And ditches
And wrote
In his coat
When the weather
Was cool,
Fear of gout,
And without
When the weather
Was warm–
Och 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-good–
He often would
Hurly burly
Get up early
And go
By hook or crook
To the brook
And bring home
Miller’s thumb,
Tittlebat
Not over fat
Minnows small
As the stall
Of a glove,
Not above
The size
Of a nice
Little Baby’s
Little fingers-
O he made
‘Twas his trade
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle–
A 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 see–
Then 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 England–
So he stood in his shoes
And he wondered,
He wondered,
He stood in his shoes
And he wondered.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe—
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
‘Where are you going, and what do you wish?’
The old moon asked the three.
‘We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!’
Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in the beautiful sea–
‘Now cast your nets wherever you wish—
Never afeard are we';
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea–
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is the wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little 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 the 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 to 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’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you’ll 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 you 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 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 parlour–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 give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant.
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone.

(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk.

The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee.
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

My age is three hundred and seventy-two,
And I think, with the deepest regret,
How I used to pick up and voraciously chew
The dear little boys whom I met.

I’ve eaten them raw, in their holiday suits;
I’ve eaten them curried with rice;
I’ve eaten them baked, in their jackets and boots,
And found them exceedingly nice.

But now that my jaws are too weak for such fare,
I think it exceedingly rude
To do such a thing, when I’m quite well aware
Little boys do not like to be chewed.

And so I contentedly live upon eels,
And try to do nothing amiss.
And I pass all the time I can spare from my meals
In innocent slumber like this.

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail.
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle — will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be,
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
But the snail replied “Too far, too far!” and gave a look askance—
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied.
“There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France—
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?”

 

Little trotty wagtail, he went in the rain,
And tittering, tottering sideways he near got straight again.
He stooped to get a worm, and look’d up to catch a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

Little trotty wagtail, he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.

Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pigsty,
So little Master Wagtail, I’ll bid you a goodbye.

A Bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,–
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, splashless, as they swim.

The silver birch is a dainty lady,
She wears a satin gown;
The elm tree makes the old churchyard shady,
She will not live in town.

The English oak is a sturdy fellow,
He gets his green coat late;
The willow is smart in a suit of yellow,
While brown the beech trees wait.

Such a gay green gown God gives the larches –
As green as He is good!
The hazels hold up their arms for arches,
When Spring rides through the wood.

The chestnut’s proud and the lilac’s pretty,
The poplar’s gentle and tall,
But the plane tree’s kind to the poor dull city –
I love him best of all!

Ye spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blindworms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy Queen.

Philomele, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.

Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.

Philomele, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

This poem has seven sections. If you want to recite a smaller part of it, we recommend sections two or three.

 

“How does the Water,
Come down at Lodore?”
My little boy asked me
Thus, once on a time;
And moreover he tasked me
To tell him in rhyme.
Anon at the word,
There first came one daughter
And then came another,
To second and third
The request of their brother,
And to hear how the Water
Comes down at Lodore,
With its rush and its roar,
As many a time
They had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme,
For of rhymes I had store;
And ’twas in my vocation
For their recreation
That so I should sing;
Because I was Laureate
To them and the King.

From its sources which well
In the Tarn on the fell;
From its fountains
In the mountains,
Its rills and its gills;
Through moss and through brake,
It runs and it creeps
For awhile, till it sleeps
In its own little Lake.
And thence at departing,
Awakening and starting,
It runs through the reeds,
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade,
And through the wood-shelter,
Among crags in its flurry,
Helter-skelter,
Hurry-skurry.
Here it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling;
Now smoking and frothing
Its tumult and wrath in,
Till, in this rapid race
On which it is bent,
It reaches the place
Of its steep descent.

The Cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging
As if a war raging
Its caverns and rocks among:
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound;
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Confounding, astounding,
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.

Collecting, projecting,
Receding and speeding,
And shocking and rocking,
And darting and parting,
And threading and spreading,
And whizzing and hissing,
And dripping and skipping,
And hitting and splitting,
And shining and twining,
And rattling and battling,
And shaking and quaking,
And pouring and roaring,
And waving and raving,
And tossing and crossing,
And flowing and going,
And running and stunning,
And foaming and roaming,
And dinning and spinning,
And dropping and hopping,
And working and jerking,
And guggling and struggling,
And heaving and cleaving,
And moaning and groaning;

And glittering and frittering,
And gathering and feathering,
And whitening and brightening,
And quivering and shivering,
And hurrying and skurrying,
And thundering and floundering;

Dividing and gliding and sliding,
And falling and brawling and sprawling,
And driving and riving and striving,
And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,
And sounding and bounding and rounding,
And bubbling and troubling and doubling,
And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
And clattering and battering and shattering;

Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,
And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,
And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,
And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,
And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,
And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending,
All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar,
And this way the Water comes down at Lodore.

I have walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart’s desire.
She came—she came—and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

The boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,
Shone round him o’er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.

The flames rolled on – he would not go,
Without his father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud – ‘Say, father, say
If yet my task is done?’
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
‘If I may yet be gone!’
– And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath
And in his waving hair;
And look’d from that lone post of death,
In still yet brave despair.

And shouted but once more aloud,
‘My father! must I stay?’
While o’er him fast, through sail and shroud,
The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapped the ship in splendour wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound –
The boy – oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea!

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part,
But the noblest thing which perished there,
Was that young faithful heart.

This long extract from a very long poem has been divided into four sections. If you want to recite a smaller part of it, you can choose any section.

 

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.

 

For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.

 

For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defense is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor, and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually–Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can sit up with gravity, which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.

 

For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Icneumon rat, very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the electrical fire is the spiritual substance which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

Mosquito one,
Mosquito two,
Mosquito jump in de callaloo.

Mosquito three,
Mosquito four,
Mosquito fly out de ol’ man door.

Mosquito five,
Mosquito six,
Mosquito break up de ol’ man bricks.

Mosquito seven,
Mosquito eight,
Mosquito open de ol’ man gate.

Mosquito nine,
Mosquito ten,
Mosquito tickle de ol’ man hen.

This poem has five verses. You may choose to recite one, some or all of them.

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then, Poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the swallow do then, Poor thing?
Oh, do you not know
That he’s off long ago,
To a country where he will find spring, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the dormouse do then, Poor thing?
Roll’d up like a ball
In his nest snug and small
He’ll sleep till warm weather comes in, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the honey-bee do then, Poor thing?
In his hive he will stay
Till the cold is away
And then he’ll come out in the spring, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the children do then, Poor things?
When lessons are done
They will skip, jump and run,
Until they have made themselves warm, Poor things!

Do you ask what the birds say? The sparrow, the dove,
The linnet and thrush say, ‘I love and I love!’
In the winter they’re silent – the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don’t know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving – all come back together.
But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and forever sings he –
‘I love my Love, and my Love loves me!’

This long poem has been divided into nine sections. If you want to recite a smaller part of it, we recommend sections five, six or seven.

 

When the Butterfly burst from her chrysalis state,
And gave to the Insects a Ball and a Fête;
When the Grasshopper’s minstrelsy charm’d every ear,
And delighted the guests with his mirth and good cheer;
The fame spread abroad of their revels and feasts,
And excited the spleen of the birds and the beasts;
For the gilded-wing’d Dragon-Fly made it his theme,
And the Gnat blew his horn as he danc’d in the beam;
The Gossip whose chirping beguil’d the long night.
By the cottage fireside told the tale of delight;
While, suspending his labours, the Bee left his cell,
To murmur applause in each blossom and bell;
It was humm’d by the Beetle, and buzz’d by the Fly,
And sung by the myriads that sport thro’ the sky.
The quadrupeds listen’d in sullen displeasure;
But the tenants of air were enrag’d beyond measure.

 

The Peacock resplendent, unfurl’d his broad fan,
And addressing his mates, thus indignant began:
“Ye people of plume! whether dwellers in woods,
Whether wading thro’ marshes, or diving in floods,
Will you suffer the Insects, the birth of a day,
To be talk’d of as all that is tasteful and gay?
And shall we like domestic, inelegant fowls,
Unpolish’d as Geese, and more stupid than Owls,
Sit tamely at home tête-a-tête with our spouses.
While the offspring of grub-worms throw open their houses?
Forbid it, ye powers, o’er our Class who preside,
And help me to humble the Butterfly’s pride!
It provokes me to see such pretenders to fashion,
Cousin Turkey-Cock, well may you quiver with passion!
When such pitiful beings affect to compare
With us! the legitimate children of air!
Some bird of high rank should his talents exert
In the general cause, and our honour assert.
But the Eagle, while soaring thro’ Ether on high.
Overlooks what is passing in our nether sky;
The Swan calmly sails down the current of life,
Without ruffling a plume in the national strife;
And the Ostrich—for birds who on iron are wont
Their breakfast to make, can digest an affront.
But, if ever I suffer such airs to prevail,
May Juno pluck out all the eyes in my tail!
To revenge our disgrace, I’ll for once lead the way,
And send out my cards for St. Valentine’s Day,
Round my standard to rally each order and genus,
From the Eagle of Jove to the Sparrow of Venus.”

 

This determin’d, six fleet Carrier-Pigeons went out,
To invite all the Birds to Sir Argus’s rout.
The nest-loving Turtle-Dove, simple recluse,
Pleaded family-duties, and sent an excuse;
With matron importance Dame Partlet alledg’d,
That her numerous progeny scarcely were fledg’d;
The Turkey, poor soul! was confin’d to the rip,
For all her young brood had just fail’d with the pip.
The Partridge was ask’d; but a neighbour hard by,
Had engag’d a snug party to meet in a pye;
And the Wheatear declin’d—recollecting, her cousins
Last year to a feast were invited by dozens;
But, alas! they return’d not:—and she had no taste
To appear in a costume of vine-leaves or paste.
The Woodcock preferr’d his lone haunt on the moor;
And the traveller Swallow was still on his tour;
While the Cuckoo, who should have been one of the guests,
Was rambling on visits to other birds’ nests:
But the rest all accepted the kind invitation,
And much bustle prevail’d in the Plumed Creation.
Such ruffling of feathers, such pruning of coats,
Such chirping, such whistling, such clearing of throats,
Such polishing bills, and such oiling of pinions,
Had never been known in the biped dominions!

 

The Taylor-Bird offer’d to make up new clothes,
For all the young birdlings who wish’d to be beaux;
He made for the Robin a doublet of red,
And a new velvet cap for the Goldfinch’s head.
He added a plume to the Wren’s golden crest,
And spangled with silver the Guinea-fowl’s breast.
While the Halcyon bent over the streamlet to view,
How pretty she look’d, in her boddice of blue.
Thus equipp’d, they set off for the Peacock’s abode,
With the guide Indicator, who shew’d them the road.
From all points of the compass flock’d birds of all feather,
And the Parrot can tell who and who were together.

 

There was Lord Cassowary, and General Flamingo,
And Don Peroquito, escap’d from Domingo.
From his high rock-built eyrie the Eagle came forth,
And the Duchess of Ptarmigan flew from the North:
The Grebe and the Eider-Duck came up by water,
With the Swan, who brought out the young Cygnet, her daughter:
From his woodland abode came the Pheasant, to meet
Two kindred arriv’d by the last India fleet;
The one like a Nabob, in habit most splendid,
Where gold, with each hue of the rainbow, was blended;
In silver and black, like a fair pensive maid
Who mourns for her love, was the other array’d.
The Chough came from Cornwall, and brought up his wife;
The Grouse travell’d South from his lairdship in Fife;
The Bunting forsook her soft nest in the reeds,
And the Widow-bird came, tho’ she still wore her weeds.
A veteran Decoy-Duck, whose falsehoods and wiles
Had ensnar’d all the youth of the fins in her toils,
Swam in, full of hope some new conquest to make,
Tho’ captives unnumber’d sail’d close in her wake.
Next enter’d a party of Puffins and Smews,
And the Dodo — who chapron’d the two Miss Cushews;
Sir John Heron, of the Lakes, strutted in a grand pas:
But no card had been sent to the pilfering Daw, —
As the Peacock kept up his progenitor’s quarrel,
Which Aesop relates, about cast-off apparel:
For birds are like men in their contests together,
And in questions of right can dispute for a feather.

 

The Peacock Imperial, the pride of his race,
Receiv’d all his guests with an infinite grace;
Wav’d high his blue neck, and his train he display’ d,
Embroider’d with gold, and with sapphires inlaid;
Then led to a bow’r, where the musical throng,
Amateurs and professors, were all in full song:
A holly-bush form’d the orchestra, and in it
Sat the Blackbird, the Thrush, the Lark, and the Linnet.
The Bullfinch, a captive almost from the nest.
Just escap’d from his cage, and, with liberty blest,
In a sweet mellow tone join’d the lessons of art,
With the accents of nature which flow’d from his heart.
The Canary, a much-admir’d foreign musician,
Condescended to sing to the fowls of condition:
While the Nightingale warbled and quaver’d so fine,
That they all clapp’d their wings and pronounc’d it divine.
The Sky-Lark, in ecstasy, sang from a cloud;
And Chanticleer crow’d, and the Yaffil laugh’d loud.

 

The dancing began when the music was over;
A Dotterel first open’d the Ball with the Plover.
Baron Stork, in a waltz, was allow’d to excel,
With his beautiful partner the fair Demoiselle.
And a newly fledg’d Gosling, so slim and genteel,
A minuet swam with the spruce Mr.Teal.
A London-bred Sparrow, a pert forward cit,
Danc’d a reel with Miss Wagtail and little Tomtit.
The Sieur Guillemot next perform’d a pas seul,
While the elderly Bipeds were playing a pool.
The Dowager Lady Toucan first cut in,
With old Dr. Buzzard and Adm’ral Penguin.
From ivy-bush tow’r came dame Owlet the wise,
And Counsellor Crossbill sat by to advise.
But the Rook, who protested ’twas all mighty dull,
Chicken Hazard propos’d to the Pigeon and Gull;
And next day it was whisper’d, he kept them so late,
That the Pigeon had mortgag’d the pease-cod estate;
And the Gull who, it seems, nothing more had to lose,
Had made his escape, and sail’d out on a cruise.

 

Some birds, past their prime, o’er whose heads it was fated
Should pass many St. Valentines, yet be unmated,
Sat by and remark’d, that the prudent and sage
Were quite overlook’d in this frivolous age,
When birds scarce pen-feather’d were brought to a rout,
Forward chits from the egg-shell but newly come out;
In their youthful days they ne’er witness’d such frisking;
And how wrong in the Greenfinch to flirt with the Siskin.
So thought Lady Mackaw, and her friend Cockatoo,
And the Raven foretold that no good would ensue.
They censur’d the Bantam for strutting and crowing
In those vile pantaloons, which he fancied look’d knowing:
And a want of decorum caus’d many demurs
Against the Game-Chicken, for coming in spurs.
To the Peacock’s acquaintance ’twas wrong to object,
Yet they hop’d his next party would be more select;
For admitting the Bat, in his pinions of leather,
Was a shocking intrusion on people of feather:
Doubtful characters might be excluded at least,
And creatures that class not with birds nor with beast.
The Magpie, renown’d for discretion and candour,
Who always profess’d an abhorrence to slander,
Was much griev’d that the Pelican — meaning no ill,
So unkindly was peck’d by each ill-natured bill,
For attempting some delicate bits to secrete
For her young ones at home, just by way of a treat;
And before they were safe in her ridicule pack’d,
She was caught by the sharp-sighted Hawk in the fact.

 

Old Alderman Corm’rant, for supper impatient,
At the eating-room door for an hour had been station’d,
Till a Jay, in rich liv’ry, the banquet announcing,
Gave the signal long-wish’d-for of clamouring and pouncing.
At the well-furnish’d board all were eager to perch,
But the little Miss Creepers were left in the lurch.
Description must fail, and the pen is unable
To recount all the lux’ries which cover’d the table.
Each delicate viand that taste could denote,
Wasps à la sauce piquante, and flies en compôte;
Worms and frogs en friture for the web-footed fowl,
And a barbecued mouse was prepar’d for the Owl;
Nuts, grain, fruit, and fish, to regale every palate,
And groundsel and chickweed serv’d up in a salad.
The Razorbill carv’d for the famishing group,
And the Spoonbill obligingly ladled the soup:
While such justice was done to the dainties before ’em,
That the tables were clear’d with the utmost decorum.
When they gaily had carroll’d till peep of the dawn,
The Lark gently hinted, ’twas time to be gone;
And his clarion so shrill gave the company warning
That Chanticleer scented the gales of the morning:
So they chirp’d in full concert a friendly adieu,
And, with hearts beating light as the plumage that grew
On their merrythought bosoms, away they all flew.
Then long live the Peacock, in splendour unmatch’d,
Whose Ball shall be talk’d of by birds yet unhatch’d;
His fame let the Trumpeter loudly proclaim,
And the Goose lend her quill to transmit it to fame!

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter,
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The Ploughboy is whooping–anon–anon:
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives –
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished!
– Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he, the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, ‘At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press’s gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks;
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, Oh rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast dry-saltery!
So, munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!
And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said, Come, bore me!
– I found the Weser rolling o’er me.’

You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
‘Go,’ cried the Mayor, ‘and get long poles!
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats!’ – when suddenly, up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a ‘First, if you please, my thousand guilders!’

In this extract from a very long poem, Hiawatha goes fishing. There are 13 stanzas. If you want to recite a smaller part of it, we recommend stanzas  1-3, or 4-5, 6-9 or 10-13.

 

Forth upon the Gitche Gumee,
On the shining Big-Sea-Water,
With his fishing-line of cedar,
Of the twisted bark of cedar,
Forth to catch the sturgeon Nahma,
Mishe-Nahma, King of Fishes,
In his birch canoe exulting
All alone went Hiawatha.

Through the clear, transparent water
He could see the fishes swimming
Far down in the depths below him;
See the yellow perch, the Sahwa,
Like a sunbeam in the water,
See the Shawgashee, the craw-fish,
Like a spider on the bottom,
On the white and sandy bottom.

At the stern sat Hiawatha,
With his fishing-line of cedar;
In his plumes the breeze of morning
Played as in the hemlock branches;
On the bows, with tail erected,
Sat the squirrel, Adjidaumo;
In his fur the breeze of morning
Played as in the prairie grasses.

On the white sand of the bottom
Lay the monster Mishe-Nahma,
Lay the sturgeon, King of Fishes;
Through his gills he breathed the water,
With his fins he fanned and winnowed,
With his tail he swept the sand-floor.

There he lay in all his armour;
On each side a shield to guard him,
Plates of bone upon his forehead,
Down his sides and back and shoulders
Plates of bone with spines projecting!
Painted was he with his war-paints,
Stripes of yellow, red, and azure,
Spots of brown and spots of sable;
And he lay there on the bottom,
Fanning with his fins of purple,
As above him Hiawatha
In his birch canoe came sailing,
With his fishing line of cedar.
“Take my bait,” cried Hiawatha,
Down into the depths beneath him,
“Take my bait, O Sturgeon, Nahma!
Come up from below the water,
Let us see which is the stronger!”
And he dropped his line of cedar
Through the clear, transparent water,
Waited vainly for an answer,
Long sat waiting for an answer,
And repeating loud and louder,
“Take my bait, O King of Fishes!”

Quiet lay the sturgeon, Nahma,
Fanning slowly in the water,
Looking up at Hiawatha,
Listening to his call and clamour,
His unnecessary tumult,
Till he wearied of the shouting;
And he said to the Kenozha,
To the pike, the Maskenozha,
“Take the bait of this rude fellow,
Break the line of Hiawatha!”

In his fingers Hiawatha
Felt the loose line jerk and tighten;
As he drew it in, it tugged so
That the birch canoe stood endwise,
Like a birch log in the water,
With the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
Perched and frisking on the summit.

Full of scorn was Hiawatha
When he saw the fish rise upward,
Saw the pike, the Maskenozha,
Coming nearer, nearer to him,
And he shouted through the water,
“Esa! esa! shame upon you!
You are but the pike, Kenozha,
You are not the fish I wanted,
You are not the King of Fishes!”

Reeling downward to the bottom
Sank the pike in great confusion,
And the mighty sturgeon, Nahma,
Said to Ugudwash, the sun-fish,
“Take the bait of this great boaster,
Break the line of Hiawatha!”

Slowly upward, wavering, gleaming
Like a white moon in the water,
Rose the Ugudwash, the sun-fish,
Seized the line of Hiawatha,
Swung with all his weight upon it,
Made a whirlpool in the water,
Whirled the birch canoe in circles,
Round and round in gurgling eddies,
Till the circles in the water
Reached the far-off sandy beaches,
Till the water-flags and rushes
Nodded on the distant margins.

But when Hiawatha saw him
Slowly rising through the water,
Lifting his great disc of whiteness,
Loud he shouted in derision,
“Esa! esa! shame upon you!
You are Ugudwash, the sun-fish,
You are not the fish I wanted,
You are not the King of Fishes!”

Wavering downward, white and ghastly,
Sank the Ugudwash, the sun-fish,
And again the sturgeon, Nahma,
Heard the shout of Hiawatha,
Heard his challenge of defiance,
The unnecessary tumult,
Ringing far across the water.

From the white sand of the bottom
Up he rose with angry gesture,
Quivering in each nerve and fibre,
Clashing all his plates of armour,
Gleaming bright with all his war-paint;
In his wrath he darted upward,
Flashing leaped into the sunshine,
Opened his great jaws, and swallowed
Both canoe and Hiawatha.

Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark verandah)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn’t got a penny,
And who weren’t paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! Hop! Hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the twirl and the swirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Glancing,
Dancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in–
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;
Miranda,
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar:
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.

Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet–
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes’ green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar–
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

Shake your brown feet, honey,
Shake your brown feet, chile,
Shake your brown feet, honey,
Shake ’em swift and wil’–
Get way back, honey,
Do that rockin’ step.
Slide on over, darling,
Now! Come out
With your left.
Shake your brown feet, honey,
Shake ’em, honey chile.

Sun’s going down this evening–
Might never rise no mo’.
The sun’s going down this very night–
Might never rise no mo’–
So dance with swift feet, honey,
(The banjo’s sobbing low)
Dance with swift feet, honey–
Might never dance no mo’.

Shake your brown feet, Liza,
Shake ’em, Liza, chile,
Shake your brown feet, Liza,
(The music’s soft and wil’)
Shake your brown feet, Liza,
(The banjo’s sobbing low)
The sun’s going down this very night–
Might never rise no mo’.

I am the impulse of all whispers, I
Am the place for a rush of birds,
I am the whole intention of the sky
And the place for coining words.

I am your life breathing in and out,
I set your senses free,
I sort the truth from complicated doubt,
I am necessity.

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rail, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Honey, pepper, leaf-green limes,
Pagan fruit whose names are rhymes,
Mangoes, breadfruit, ginger-roots,
Granadillas, bamboo-shoots,
Cho-cho, ackees, tangerines,
Lemons, purple Congo-beans,
Sugar, akras, kola-nuts,
Citrons, hairy coconuts,
Fish, tobacco, native hats,
Gold bananas, woven mats,
Plantains, wild-thyme, pallid leeks,
Pigeons with their scarlet beaks,
Oranges and saffron yams,
Baskets, ruby guava jams,
Turtles, goat-skins, cinnamon,
Allspice, conch-shells, golden rum.
Black skins, babel – and the sun
That burns all colours into one.

I am waiting for you.
I have been travelling all morning through the bush
and not eaten.
I am lying at the edge of the bush
on a dusty path that leads from the burnt-out kraal.
I am panting, it is midday, I found no water-hole.
I am very fierce without food and although my eyes
are screwed to slits against the sun
you must believe I am prepared to spring.

What do you think of me?
I have a rough coat like Africa.
I am crafty with dark spots
like the bush-tufted plains of Africa.
I sprawl as a shaggy bundle of gathered energy
like Africa sprawling in its waters.
I trot, I lope, I slaver, I am a ranger.
I hunch my shoulders. I eat the dead.

Do you like my song?
When the moon pours hard and cold on the veldt
I sing, and I am the slave of darkness.
Over the stone walls and the mud walls and the ruined places
and the owls, the moonlight falls.
I sniff a broken drum. I bristle. My pelt is silver.
I howl my song to the moon – up it goes.
Would you meet me there in the waste places?

It is said I am a good match
for a dead lion. I put my muzzle
at his golden flanks, and tear. He
is my golden supper, but my tastes are easy.
I have a crowd of fangs, and I use them.
Oh and my tongue – do you like me
When it comes lolling out over my jaw
very long, and I am laughing?
I am not laughing.
But I am not snarling either, only
panting in the sun, showing you
what I grip
carrion with.

I am waiting
for the foot to slide,
for the heart to seize,
for the leaping sinews to go slack,
for the fight to the death to be fought to the death,
for a glazing eye and the rumour of blood.
I am crouching in my dry shadows
till you are ready for me.
My place is to pick you clean
and leave your bones to the wind.

The old King of Dorchester,
He had a little orchestra,
And never did you hear such a ceremonial band.
‘Tootle-too,’ said the flute,
‘Deed-a-reedle,’ said the fiddle,
For the fiddles and the flutes were the finest in the land.

The old King of Dorchester,
He had a little orchestra,
And never did you hear such a ceremonial band.
‘Pump-a-rum,’ said the drum,
‘Tootle-too,’ said the flute,
‘Deed-a-reedle,’ said the fiddle,
For the fiddles and the flutes were the finest in the land.

The old King of Dorchester,
He had a little orchestra,
And never did you hear such a ceremonial band.
‘Pickle-pee,’ said the fife,
‘Pump-a-rum.’ said the drum,
‘Tootle-too,’ said the flute,
‘Deed-a-reedle,’ said the fiddle,
For the fiddles and the flutes were the finest in the land.

The old King of Dorchester,
He had a little orchestra,
And never did you hear such a ceremonial band.
‘Zoomba-zoom,’ said the bass,
‘Pickle-pee,’ said the fife,
‘Pump-a-rum,’ said the drum,
‘Tootle-too,’ said the flute,
‘Deed-a-reedle,’ said the fiddle,
For the fiddles and the flutes were the finest in the land.

The old King of Dorchester,
He had a little orchestra,
And never did you hear such a ceremonial band.
‘Pah-pa-rah,’ said the trumpet,
‘Zoomba-zoom,’ said the bass,
‘Pickle-pee,’ said the fife,
‘Pump-a-rum,’ said the drum,
‘Tootle-too,’ said the flute,
‘Deed-a-reedle,’ said the fiddle,
For the fiddles and the flutes were the finest in the land,
Oh! the fiddles and the flutes were the finest in the land!

Never,’ said my father,
‘Never cut a pomegranate
through the heart. It will weep blood.
Treat it delicately, with respect.

Just slit the upper skin across four quarters.
This is a magic fruit,
so when you split it open, be prepared
for the jewels of the world to tumble out,
more precious than garnets,
more lustrous than rubies,
lit as if from inside.
Each jewel contains a living seed.
Separate one crystal.
Hold it up to catch the light.
Inside is a whole universe.
No common jewel can give you this.’

Afterwards, I tried to make necklaces
of pomegranate seeds.
The juice spurted out, bright crimson,
and stained my fingers, then my mouth.

I didn’t mind. The juice tasted of gardens
I had never seen, voluptuous
with myrtle, lemon, jasmine,
and alive with parrots’ wings.

The pomegranate reminded me
that somewhere I had another home.

Sister river
Brother river
Mother river
Father river
O life giver
O life taker
O friend river
What have you
in store
for a poor
fisherman
today.

From my boat
I cast my net
to your heart
O friend river
and I hope
you return it
gleaming with silver
O friend river

Sister river
Brother river
Mother river
Father river
O life giver
O life taker
O friend river
What have you
in store
for a poor fisherman
today?

We were rich and poor.
We were bought and sold.

We were black and white.
We were young and old.

We were life and death.
We were north and south.

We were hand in hand.
We were foot and mouth.

We were good and bad.
We were war and peace.

We were day and night.
We were man and beast.

We were hunger and greed.
We were water and land.

We were empty and full.
We were lost and found.

We had two strings to our bow.
We were in it together.

We were the spitting image.
We were the doppelganger.

We were terrible twins.
We were happy and sad.

We were alter ego.
We were sane and mad.

We were two-faced.
We were two-a-penny.

We spat, ‘Double or quits.’
We sneered, ‘Double the money.’

We liked to two-time.
We stayed in a twin-town.

We led a double life.
We lived in a two-up-two-down.

We were too much.
We were entwined.

We were a right pair.
We were in two minds.

We peered through bifocals.
We talked in double entendres.

We walked double-quick.
We never wandered.

We were a double act.
We were Morecambe and Wise.

We were Laurel and Hardy.
We were Jekyll and Hyde.

We were Romeo and Juliet.
We were tragedy and comedy.

We spoke tête-à-tête.
We were a carbon copy.

We dreamt in a double bed.
We were fluently bilingual.

We were in two minds.
We were never single.

We drove on dual carriageways.
We insisted on equal pay.

We were twinned; we were mated.
We loved and we hated.

We could not be separated.
We could not be separated.

Once I played with the hummingbirds
and sang songs to the sea
I told my secrets to the waves
and they told theirs to me.

Now there are no more hummingbirds
the sea’s songs are all sad
for strange men came and took this land
and plundered all we had.

They made my people into slaves
they worked us to the bone
they battered us and tortured us
and laughed to hear us groan.

Today we’ll take a long canoe
and set sail on the sea
we’ll steer our journey by the stars
and find a new country.

Governments rule most countries,
Bankers rule most banks,
Captains rule their football teams
And piranhas rule fish tanks.

There are rules for gnobling gnomes
And rules for frying frogs,
There are rules for biting bullies
And for vexing vicious dogs.

There are rules for driving motor cars
And crashing into chums,
There are rules for taking off your pants
And showing spotty bums.

There are rules for nasty children
Who tie bangers to old cats,
There are rules for running riots
And rules for burning bats.

There are rules in the classroom.
There are rules in the street.
Some rules are wild and woolly
And some are tame and neat.

And some are pretty sensible
And some are pretty daft;
Some I take quite seriously,
At others I have laughed,

But there is one special rule
You should not be without:
If you do not like the rules
OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND SHOUT!
OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND SHOUT!

Ackees, chapatties
Dumplins an nan,
Channa an rotis
Onion uttapam,
Masala dosa
Green callaloo
Bhel an samosa
Corn an aloo.
Yam an cassava
Pepperpot stew,
Rotlo an guava
Rice an tofu,
Puri, paratha
Sesame casserole,
Brown eggless pasta
An brown bread rolls.

Soya milked muesli
Soya bean curd,
Soya sweet sweeties
Soya’s de word,
Soya bean margarine
Soya bean sauce,
What can mek medicine?
Soya of course.

Soya meks yoghurt
Soya ice-cream,
Or soya sorbet
Soya reigns supreme,
Soya sticks liquoriced
Soya salads
Try any soya dish
Soya is bad.

Plantain an tabouli
Cornmeal pudding
Onion bhajee
Wid plenty cumin,
Breadfruit an coconuts
Molasses tea
Dairy free omelettes
Very chilli.
Ginger bread, nut roast
Sorrell, paw paw,
Cocoa an rye toast
I tek dem on tour,
Drinking cool maubi
Meks me feel sweet,
What was dat question now?
What do we eat?

Granny is
fried dumplin’ an’ run-dung,
coconut drops an’ grater cake,
fresh ground coffee smell in the mornin’
when we wake.

Granny is
loadin’ up the donkey,
basket full on market day
with fresh snapper the fisherman bring back
from the bay.

Granny is
clothes washin’ in the river
scrubbin’ dirt out on the stone
haulin’ crayfish an’ eel from the water
on her own.

Granny is
stories in the moonlight
underneath the guangu tree
and a spider web of magic
all round we.

Granny say,
‘Only de best fe de gran’children,
it don’ matter what de price,
don’t want no one pointin’ finger.’

Granny nice.

Pirate Pete
had a ship on the sea
had a fish for his tea
had a peg for a knee
and a tiny little parrot called…Polly

Pirate Pete
had a book with a map
had a skull on his cap
had a cat on his lap
and another little parrot called…Dolly

Pirate Pete
had a trunk full of treasure
had a belt made of leather
had a cap with a feather
and another little parrot called…Jolly

Pirate Pete
had a patch on his eye
had a flag he would fly
had a plank way up high
and another little parrot called…Molly

So, Pirate Pete
and the parrots four
they sailed the world
from shore to shore –
collecting gold
and gifts galore.
And that’s their tale –
there is no more!

We live in books and photographs,
our stories all begin with ‘Once’,
three, two, going, going…gone.

Barbary Lion, Atitlan Grebe,
Caribbean Monk Seal, Carolina Parakeet.

We tasted good, our forests were yours
Our horn was valuable, you wore our furs,
three, two, going, going…gone.

Laughing Owl, Passenger Pigeon,
Javan Tiger, Japanese Sea Lion.

We flew and swam beneath the sun,
nested, hunted, raised our young,
three, two, going, going…gone.

Western Black Rhinoceros, Aldabra Snail,
Pyrenean Ibex, Wake Island Rail

Shells, tails, whiskers and bone,
three, two, going, going…

If you were a carrot
and I was a sprout
I’d boil along with you
I’d sit on your plate

If you were a tadpole
and I was a frog
I’d wait till your legs grew
I’d teach you to croak

If you were a conker
and I was a string
we’d win every battle
we’d beat everything

If you were a jotter
and I was a pen
I’d write you a message
again and again

If you were a farmer
I’d be in your herd
if you were a popsong
I’d sing every word

I wish I could tell you
that I like you a lot
but you’re like a secret
and I’m like a knot.

a letter was sent
but no one was there
no one at home
in the house of air

no window no frame
no number no door
between sixty eight
and sixty four

just a pit prop joist
wedged there to shore
two end walls peeling
patchwork squares

paint patterns plaster
layers on layers
unpicked by rain
and roots and years

like generations
a stray cat stirs
in the deep pile carpet
of rubble and briars

it’s one big room
just follow the stairs
zig zag to the sky
through invisible floors

a fireplace smoulders
green then flares
mauve buddleia
the postman stares

number sixty six
strange it was there
this time yesterday
he could swear

Please do not feed the ostriches
sandwiches

or the polar bears
éclairs.

Do not offer the wombats
kumquats

or the rattle-snakes
fruit-cakes.

Remember that piranhas
are not allowed bananas

or partridges
sausages.

Never approach a stork
with things on a fork

or the bustard
with a plate of custard.

No leopard
likes anything peppered

and meerkats
dislike Kit Kats.

Remember that grapes
upset apes

and meringues
do the same for orang-utans.

Most importantly–
do not feed the cheetah

your teacher.

Shut your eyes.
Open your mind.
Look inside.
What do you find?
Something funny?
Something sad?
Something beautiful,
mysterious, mad?
Open your ears.
Listen well.
A word or phrase
begins to swell?
Catch its rhythm,
hold its sound.
Gently, slowly
roll it round.
Does it please you?
Does it tease you?
Does it ask
to grow and spread?
Now those little
words are sprouting
poetry
inside your head.

Some one came knocking
At my wee, small door;
Some one came knocking,
I’m sure–sure–sure;
I listened, I opened,
I looked to left and right,
But nought there was a-stirring
In the still dark night;
Only the busy beetle
Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
The screech-owl’s call,
Only the cricket whistling
While the dewdrops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
At all, at all, at all.

Nobody can see my name on me.
My name is inside
and all over me, unseen
like other people also keep it.
Isn’t my name magical?

My name is mine only.
It tells me I am individual,
the one special person it shakes
when I’m wanted.

Even if someone else answers
for me, my message hangs in the air
haunting others, till it stops
with me, the right name.
Isn’t your name and my name magic?

If I’m with hundreds of people
and my name gets called,
my sound switches me on to answer
like it was my human electricity.

My name echoes across the playground,
it comes, it demands my attention,
I have to find out who calls,
who wants me for what.
My name gets blurted out in class,
it is terror, at a bad time,
because somebody is cross.

My name gets called in a whisper,
I am happy, because
my name may have touched me
with a loving voice.
Isn’t your name and my name magic?

by René Magritte

In the Thinking Room
at Childhood Hall,
the brown clock ticks
with the sound of the kiss
that my Grandma makes
against my cheek
again and again
when we first meet
after a week
of all the hours
that the brown clock’s tick
has kissed away
today, to-
morrow, yesterday

are all the same
to the plum steam-train
that I sometimes hear
in the Thinking Room
at Childhood Hall –
it has no passengers at all,
till I grow old enough
and tall
to climb aboard
the plum steam-train
and blow a kiss
as I chuff away to to-
morrow, yesterday, today.

First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black,
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;
Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;
Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;
Then I saw the elephant with his waving trunk,
Then I saw the monkeys—mercy, how unpleasantly they-smelt!

our presence disturbs their sleep:
heads bob and weave,
beaks biting the wire.

Some have plucked the feathers
from their tails,
their breasts,
as if trying to find out love.

Bright eyes stare out
from circles of wizened skin,
fix us,

and then the dead begin to speak:

a chorus of greetings and goodbyes,
nicknames, profanities,
the ghost of a woman’s laugh.

No one can live long
with this ventriloquy,
voices thrown from the dark.

Not us,
who leave them quickly to their cages,
to the silence that only comes
when we are gone.

When I was a child I knew red miners
dressed raggedly and wearing carbide lamps.
I saw them come down red hills to their camps
dyed with red dust from old Ishkooda mines.
Night after night I met them on the roads,
or on the streets in town I caught their glance;
the swing of dinner buckets in their hands,
and grumbling undermining all their words.

I also lived in low cotton country
where moonlight hovered over ripe haystacks,
or stumps of trees, and croppers’ rotting shacks
with famine, terror, flood, and plague near by;
where sentiment and hatred still held sway
and only bitter land was washed away.

Kicking the pebbles along Eastbourne beach
as the orange-pink of sunset
plays with the ebbing tide,
my mother asks…

“What do you want to do when you’re older?”

There is every colour of pebble beneath my feet,
grey lumps of flint winking their sharp, shining
cores
gritty ovals of sandstone pregnant with fossils,
worn amulets of glass of every sparkle.

They crunch and shift under synced steps
as we stroll, towels wrapped around sand-dusted
bodies.
The sea sings with the pebbles,
knocking a tone from each,
forming a hushing melody.

Sunbursts dip into the wispy clouds,
bounce from the greens, blacks and purples of the
rock pools,
shine red and gold and white from the sea.
There is every colour in the sun.

My baby sister toddles alongside my grandmother,
the years between them
like the ghosts of waves already ebbed
and the years to come
like the promise of tides,
as their silhouettes whisper in the sunshine.

“What do I want to be when I’m older?”

The question bounces around my head
like light and wind and water and time
and I smile…

“I don’t know.”

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old—
This knight so bold—
And o’er his heart a shadow—
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
‘Shadow,’ said he,
‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’

‘Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,’
The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

I went into the wood one day
And there I walked and lost my way

When it was so dark I could not see
A little creature came to me

He said if I would sing a song
The time would not be very long

But first I must let him hold my hand tight
Or else the wood would give me a fright

I sang a song, he let me go
But now I am home again there is nobody I know.

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day!
Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Oh, grim and gloomy,
So grim and gloomy
Are the caves beneath the sea.
Oh, rare but roomy
And bare and boomy,
Those salt sea caverns be.

Oh, slim and slimy
Or grey and grimy
Are the animals of the sea.
Salt and oozy
And safe and snoozy
The caves where those animals be.

Hark to the shuffling,
Huge and snuffling,
Ravenous, cavernous, great sea-beasts!
But fair and fabulous,
Tintinnabulous,
Gay and fabulous are their feasts.

Ah, but the queen of the sea,
The querulous, perilous sea!
How the curls of her tresses
The pearls on her dresses,

Sway and swirl in the waves,
How cosy and dozy,
How sweet ring-a-rosy
Her bower in the deep-sea caves!

Oh, rare but roomy
And bare and boomy
Those caverns under the sea,
And grave and grandiose,
Safe and sandiose
The dens of her denizens be.

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody too?
Then there’s a pair of us! – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring Bog!

Trees are good at what they do,
at being oak or beech or yew.

They shake their leaves to make a breeze
and pop out blossom for the bees.

In crook of branch they’ll hold a nest
which, birds concur, is for the best.

On rainy days they shield the feller
who’s forgot his umbrella.

In summer they provide the shade
for picnickers out in the glade.

Inside their sturdy hearts of wood
trees are simply doing good.

Glory be to the one of a hundred names
for the gift of the marvellous and the mundane.
The one who causes the sun to wheel, the sky to rain.
The one who causes the stars to shine, the moon to wane.
The one who conducts the winds, the birds’ refrain.
The one who shatters the seas’ sinews into waves.
The one who commands the sap of vine and grain.
The one cried to by the soldier in the arms of pain.
The one who grants the atheist a clever brain.

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.

Come play with me;
Why should you run
Through the shaking tree
As though I’d a gun
To strike you dead?
When all I would do
Is to scratch your head
And let you go.

How she sat there,
the time right inside a place
so wrong it was ready.

That trim name with
its dream of a bench
to rest on. Her sensible coat.

Doing nothing was the doing:
the clean flame of her gaze
carved by a camera flash.

How she stood up
when they bent down to retrieve
her purse. That courtesy.

All you see is outside me: my painted smile,
the rosy-posy shell, the fluttery eyes.
A butter-won’t-melt-in-my-mouth-type me

But inside there’s another me, bored till playtime.
The wasting paper, daytime dreamer.
A can’t-be-bothered-sort-of me.

And inside there’s another me, full of cheek.
The quick, slick joker with a poking tongue.
A class-clown-funny-one-of me

And inside there’s another me who’s smaller, scared.
The scurrying, worrying, yes miss whisperer.
A wouldn’t-say-boo-to-a-goosey me

And inside there’s another me, all cross and bothered.
The scowling hot-head, stamping feet.
A didn’t-do-it-blameless me.

And inside there’s another me, forever jealous
who never gets enough, compared.
A grass-is-always-greener me.

And deepest down, kept secretly
a tiny, solid skittle doll.
The girl that hides inside of me.

Good afternoon, Sir Smasham Uppe !
We’re having tea : do take a cup !
Sugar and milk ? – Now let me see –
Two lumps, I think? . . . Good gracious me !
The silly thing slipped off your knee !
Pray don’t apologize, old chap :
A very trivial mishap!
So clumsy of you ? How absurd !
My dear Sir Smasham, not a word !
Now do sit down and have another,
And tell us all about your brother –
You know, the one who broke his head.
Is the poor fellow still in bed ? –
A chair – allow me, sir ! . . . Great Scott !
That was a nasty smash ! Eh, what ?
Oh, not at all : the chair was old –
Queen Anne, or so we have been told.
We’ve got at least a dozen more :
Just leave the pieces on the floor.
I want you to admire our view :
Come nearer to the window, do ;
And look how beautiful . . . Tut, tut !
You didn’t see that it was shut ?
I hope you are not badly cut !
Not hurt ? A fortunate escape !
Amazing ! Not a single scrape !
And now, if you have finished tea,
I fancy you might like to see
A little thing or two I’ve got.
That china plate ? Yes, worth a lot :
A beauty too . . . Ah, there it goes !
I trust it didn’t hurt your toes ?
Your elbow brushed it off the shelf ?
Of course : I’ve done the same myself.
And now, my dear Sir Smasham – Oh,
You surely don’t intend to go ?
You must be off ? Well, come again
So glad you’re fond of porcelain !

Time’s a bird, which leaves its footprints
At the corners of your eyes,
Time’s a jockey, racing horses,
The sun and moon across the skies.
Time’s a thief, stealing your beauty,
Leaving you with tears and sighs,
But you waste time trying to catch him,
Time’s a bird and Time just flies.

1.

A solar eclipse – his fur
seems to veil light,
the smoulder

of black rosettes
a zoo of sub-atoms
I try to tame –

tritium, lepton, anti-proton.
They collide
as if smashed inside

a particle accelerator.
But it’s just Aramis sleeping,
twitching himself back

to the jungle, where he leaps
into the pool of a spiral
galaxy, to catch a fish.

2.

Later, the keeper tells me
Aramis has had surgery
for swallowing

a hose-head
where his hank of beef
was lodged. But

what vet could take
a scalpel to this
dreaming universe?

What hand could shave
that pelt, to probe
the organs

of dark matter, untwist
time’s intestines
and stitch

night’s belly
together again, only
to return him to a cage?

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

In the gloom of whiteness,
In the great silence of snow,
A child was sighing
And bitterly saying: “Oh,
They have killed a white bird up there on her nest,
The down is fluttering from her breast.”
And still it fell through that dusky brightness
On the child crying for the bird of the snow.

I’d really hate to go to bed
Just swinging from some wall.
But bats, they say, do just that way.
I’d not wish to at all.
I’d hate to swing down from my toes,
All upside-down, and try to doze.

Little lamps of the dusk
You fly low and gold
When the summer evening
Starts to unfold.
So that all the insects,
Now, before you pass,
Will have light to see by
Undressing in the grass.

But when night has flowered,
Little lamps agleam,
You fly over tree-tops
Following a dream.
Men wonder from their windows
That a firefly goes so far.
They do not know your longing
To be a shooting star.

Our old cat has kittens three —
What do you think their names should be?

One is tabby with emerald eyes,
And a tail that’s long and slender,
And into a temper she quickly flies
If you ever by chance offend her.
I think we shall call her this —
I think we shall call her that —
Now, don’t you think that Pepperpot
Is a nice name for a cat?

One is black with a frill of white,
And her feet are all white fur,
If you stroke her she carries her tail upright
And quickly begins to purr.
I think we shall call him this —
I think we shall call him that —
Now, don’t you think that Sootikin
Is a nice name for a cat?

One is a tortoise-shell, yellow and black,
With plenty of white about him;
If you tease him, at once he sets up his back,
He’s a quarrelsome one, ne’er doubt him.
I think we shall call her this —
I think we shall call her that —
Now, don’t you think that Scratchaway
Is a nice name for a cat?

Our old cat has kittens three
And I fancy these their names will be:
Pepperpot, Sootikin, Scratchaway — there!
Were ever kittens with these to compare?
And we call the old mother —
Now what do you think?
Tabitha Longclaws Tiddley Wink.

To Music

Begin to charm, and, as thou strok’st mine ears
With thy enchantment, melt me into tears.
Then let thy active hand scud o’er thy lyre,
And make my spirits frantic with the fire.
That done, sink down into a silvery strain,
And make me smooth as balm and oil again.

 

 

 

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream.
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of
the village where I live.

I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and
know who I am.

I load my little boats with shiuli flowers from our garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land in the night.
I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting their white bulging sails.
I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the air to race with my boats!
When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.
The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their baskets full of dreams.

Little brown baby-bird, lapped in your nest,
Wrapped in your nest,
Strapped in your nest,
Your straight little cradle-board rocks you to rest;
Its hands are your nest;
Its bands are your nest;
It swings from the down-bending branch of the oak;
You watch the camp flame, and the curling grey
smoke;
But, oh, for your pretty black eyes sleep is best,—
Little brown baby of mine, go to rest.

Little brown baby-bird swinging to sleep,
Winging to sleep,
Singing to sleep,
Your wonder-black eyes that so wide open keep,
Shielding their sleep,
Unyielding to sleep,
The heron is homing, the plover is still,
The night-owl calls from his haunt on the hill,
Afar the fox barks, afar the stars peep,—
Little brown baby of mine, go to sleep.

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 brilliant stone,
To catch the world’s desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
But a flint holds fire.

I can imagine, in some other world
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

Beyond, beyond the mountain line,
The grey-stone and the boulder,
Beyond the growth of dark green pine,
That crowns its western shoulder,
There lies that fairy land of mine,
Unseen of a beholder.

Its fruits are all like rubies rare,
Its streams are clear as glasses;
There golden castles hang in air,
And purple grapes in masses,
And noble knights and ladies fair
Come riding down the passes.

Ah me! they say if I could stand
Upon those mountain ledges,
I should but see on either hand
Plain fields and dusty hedges:
And yet I know my fairy land
Lies somewhere o’er their edges.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?-

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

In time of silver rain
The earth
Puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads
Of life, of life, of life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth
New leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway passing boys
And girls go singing, too,
In time of silver rain
When spring
And life are new.

One day, Mamma said, “Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don’t suck your thumb while I’m away.
The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs.
And ere they dream what he’s about
He takes his great sharp scissors
And cuts their thumbs clean off, – and then
You know, they never grow again.”

Mamma had scarcely turn’d her back,
The thumb was in, alack! alack!

The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissorman.
Oh! children, see! the tailor’s come
And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.

Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out – Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last.
Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands;-
“Ah!” said Mamma “I knew he’d come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb.”

Gardening in the Tropics
you never know what you’ll
turn up. Yesterday it was bones,
today: stones. Here’s one
that might be holy. To test,
tie white cotton thread
around it. Hold over a flame.
If the thread doesn’t burn
you’ve found it: a power stone.
Breathe lightly on it to confirm.
You see it sweating? Even the gods
perspire. Take your pierre home
and feed it. The heart gets weak
if the spirit is kept
too dry.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, – “Snow.”
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned,—”Frost.”
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,—
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing
hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
Or crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasped fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up

From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.

Then they grow grey, like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear,
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.

I’ve learned to sing a song of hope,
I’ve said goodbye to despair,
I caught the note in a thrush’s throat,
I sang – and the world was fair!
I’ve learned to sing a song of joy
It bends the skies to me,
The song of joy is the song of hope
Grown to maturity.

I’ve learned to laugh away my tears
As through the dark I go,
For love and laughter conquer fears
My heart has come to know.

I’ve learned a song of happiness
It is a song of love,
For love alone is happiness
And happiness is love.

Mr Kartoffel’s a whimsical man;
He drinks his beer from a watering-can,
And for no good reason that I can see
He fills his pockets with china tea.
He parts his hair with a knife and fork
And takes his ducks on a Sunday walk.
Says he, “If my wife and I should choose
To wear our stockings outside our shoes,
Plant tulip bulbs in the baby’s pram
And eat tobacco instead of jam,
And fill the bath with cauliflowers,
That’s nobody’s business at all but ours.”
Says Mrs. K., “I may choose to travel
With a sack of grass or a sack of gravel,
Or paint my toes, one black, one white,
Or sit on a bird’s nest half the night –
But whatever I do that is rum or rare,
I rather think that is my affair.
So fill up your pockets with stamps and string,
And let us be ready for anything!”
Says Mr. K. to his whimsical wife,
“How can we face the storms of life,
Unless we are ready for anything?
So if you’ve provided the stamps and the string,
Let us pump up the saddle and harness the horse
And fill him with carrots and custard and sauce,
Let us leap on him lightly and give him a shove
And it’s over the sea and away, my love!”

A fly went buzzing over my head;
Buzz-z! Buzz-z!
And what do you think the little fly said?
Buzz-z! Buzz-z!

I saw two babies as I flew by
Begin to quarrel and then to cry!
Pretty children, their Grandma thinks,
Calls them her “Rosy-posy pinks!”

What does it mean when the babies cry?
Isn’t it better to be a fly?
Babies laugh though, coo and smile,
Shriek with laughter once in a while.

Wonder what creatures with two legs do!
I never would live with so very few!
How do they ever get about?
Wonder who pulled their other legs out!

There! They’re going! How queer they crawl!
Funny world! Said the fly on the wall!
A fly went buzzing over my head,
Buzz-z! Buzz-z!
And these are the words the little fly said,
Buzz-z! Buzz-z!

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

This is the rhythm
of the boneyard rap,
knuckle bones click
and hand bones clap,
finger bones flick
and thigh bones slap,
when you’re doing the rhythm
of the boneyard rap.
Wooooooooo!

It’s the boneyard rap
and it’s a scare.
Give your bones a shake-up
if you dare.
Rattle your teeth
and waggle your jaw
and let’s do the boneyard rap
once more.

This is the rhythm
of the boneyard rap,
elbow bones clink
and backbones snap,
shoulder bones chink
and toe bones tap,
when you’re doing the rhythm
of the boneyard rap.
Wooooooooo!

It’s the boneyard rap
and it’s a scare.
Give your bones a shake-up
if you dare.
Rattle your teeth
and waggle your jaw
and let’s do the boneyard rap
once more.

Ths is the rhythm of the boneyard rap,
ankle bones sock
and arm bones flap,
pelvic bones knock
and knee bones zap,
when you’re doing the rhythm
of the boneyard rap.
Wooooooooo!