Friday, February 16

Children's Poetry: Four for Girls

Very important (and rather politically incorrect) update below!

When I was a little girl, I thought girls got a raw deal in this nursery rhyme. I preferred the stuff boys were made of, except for the puppy dog tails, of course. What sort of person would cut the tail off a puppy?
What are Little Girls Made Of?

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

This next poem got my approval, partly because this little girl wasn't always sugar and spice, but mostly because I had a curl of my own in the middle of my forehead. I still do. It requires pinning or spraying so as not to hang in a spiral down the middle of my face.
There Was a Little Girl

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of the forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
[Update: Thirsty David gives us stanzas 2 and 3 of this verse in the comments of this post. Can you see why they might be frequently forgotten when this poem is quoted?

I love them, although, if you ask me, the person who cuts off puppy dog tails and the mother who spanks most emphatic for hooraying with one's heels on one's little trundle-bed are two of a kind.]
One day she went upstairs,
When her parents, unawares,
In the kitchen were occupied with meals
And she stood upon her head
In her little trundle-bed,
And then began hooraying with her heels.

Her mother heard the noise,
And she thought it was the boys
A-playing at a combat in the attic;
But when she climbed the stair,
And found Jemima there,
She took and she did spank her most emphatic.

---Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Admit it. You thought this was just a generic nursery rhyme, too, didn't you?)

As you can probably guess, I rebelled against this one, too. Although eating lots of strawberries sounded tempting, why would anyone want to miss out on feeding the swine?
Curly Locks

Curly Locks, Curly Locks,
Will you be mine?
You shall not wash dishes,
Nor feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion
And sew a fine seam,
And sup upon strawberries,
Sugar, and cream.

And, for good measure, one more poem with a good little girl in it.

Good Night and Good Morning

A fair little girl sat under a tree,
Sewing as long as her eyes could see;
Then smoothed her work, and folded it right,
And said, "Dear work, good night! good night!"

Such a number of rooks came over her head,
Crying, "Caw! Caw!" on their way to bed;
She said, as she watched their curious flight,
"Little black things, good night! good night!"

The horses neighed, and the oxen lowed,
The sheep's "Bleat! bleat!" came over the road;
All seeming to say, with a quiet delight,
"Good little girl, good night! good night!"

She did not say to the sun, "Good night!"
Though she saw him there like a ball of light,
For she knew he had God's time to keep
All over the world, and never could sleep.

The tall pink foxglove bowed his head,
The violets curtsied and went to bed;
And good little Lucy tied up her hair,
And said on her knees her favourite prayer.

And while on her pillow she softly lay,
She knew nothing more till again it was day;
And all things said to the beautiful sun,
"Good morning! good morning! our work is begun!
---Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton

Sort of related: William Meisheid post a Valentine's Day poem for his wife, who once was a little girl.

Here's how you can join in the fun: Post a children's poem on your blog, let me know of it, and I'll link to you. Those who remain blogless, but still wish to participate, may post a poem in the comments of this post.

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