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©winnie caw 2004

Pink Roses by a Garden Fence
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To Any Reader

Whether upon the garden seat
You lounge with your uplifted feet
Under the May's whole Heaven of blue;
Or whether on the sofa you,
No grown-up person being by,
Do some soft corner occupy:
Take this volume in your hands
And enter into other lands,
For lo! (as children feign) suppose
You, hunting in the garden rows,
Or in the lumbered attic, or
The cellar - a nail-studded boot
And dark, descending stairway found
That led to kingdoms underground:
There standing, you should hear with ease
Strange birds a-singing, or the trees
Swing in big robber woods, or bells
On many fairy citadels:
There passing through (a step or so,
Neither mamma nor nurse need know!)
From your nice nurseries you would pass
Like Alice through the Looking-Glass
Or Gerda following little Ray,
To wondrous countries far away.
Well, and just this volume can
Transport each little maid or man,
Presto, from where they live away
Where other children used to play.
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson A Child's Garden of Verses 1885

*****

Smith illustration from 'A Child's Garden of Verses'

Windy Nights

WHENEVER the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson A Child's Garden of Verses 1885

*****

Forgiven

I found a little beetle; so that Beetle was his name,
And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same.
I put him in a match-box, and I kept him all the day ...
And Nanny let my beetle out -
Yes, Nanny let my beetle out -
She went and let my beetle out -
And Beetle ran away.

She said she didn't mean it, and I never said she did,
She said she wanted matches and she just took off the lid,
She said that she was sorry, but it's difficult to catch
An excited sort of beetle you've mistaken for a match.

She said that she was sorry, and I really mustn't mind,
As there's lots and lots of beetles which she's certain we could find,
If we looked about the garden for the holes where beetles hid -
And we'd get another match-box and write BEETLE on the lid.

We went to all the places which a beetle might be near,
And we made the sort of noises which a beetle likes to hear,
And I saw a kind of something, and I gave a sort of shout:
"A beetle-house and Alexander Beetle coming out!"

It was Alexander Beetle I'm as certain as can be,
And he had a sort of look as if he thought it must be Me,
And he had a sort of look as if he thought he ought to say:
"I'm very very sorry that I tried to run away."

And Nanny's very sorry too for you-know-what-she-did,
And she's writing ALEXANDER very blackly on the lid,
So Nan and Me are friends, because it's difficult to catch
An excited Alexander you've mistaken for a match.

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

My Shadow

I HAVE a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into the bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson A Child's Garden of Verses 1885

*****

Jessie Willcox Smith: The Water-Babies

Jessie Willcox Smith: At the Back of the North Wind

 

King John's Christmas

King John was not a good man -
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air -
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon ...
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune for the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

King John was not a good man,
Yet had his hopes and fears.
They'd given him no present now
For years and years and years.
But every year at Christmas,
While minstrels stood about,
Collecting tribute from the young
For all the songs they might have sung,
He stole away upstairs and hung
A hopeful stocking out.

King John was not a good man,
He lived his life aloof;
Alone he thought a message out
While climbing on the roof.
He wrote it down and propped it
Against the chimney stack:
"TO ALL AND SUNDRY - NEAR AND FAR -
F. CHRISTMAS IN PARTICULAR."
And signed it not "Johannes R."
But very humbly, "JACK."
"I want some crackers,
And I want some candy;
I think a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I don't mind oranges,
I do like nuts!
And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife
That really cuts.
And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!"

King John was not a good man -
He wrote this message out,
And gat him to his room again,
Descending by the spout.
And all that night he lay there,
A prey to hopes and fears.
"I think that's him a-coming now,"
(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)
"He'll bring one present, anyhow - 
The first I've had for years."

"Forget about the crackers,
And forget about the candy;
I'm sure a box of chocolates
Would never come in handy;
I don't like oranges,
I don't want nuts,
And I HAVE got a pocket-knife
That almost cuts.
But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!"

King John was not a good man -
Next morning when the sun
Rose up to tell a waiting world 
That Christmas had begun,
And people seized their stockings,
And opened them with glee,
And crackers, toys and games appeared,
And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,
King John said grimly: "As I feared,
Nothing again for me!"

"I did want crackers,
And I did want candy;
I know a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I do love oranges,
I did want nuts.
I haven't got a pocket-knife -
Not even one that cuts.
And, oh! if Father Christmas had loved me at all,
He would have brought a big, red india-rubber ball!"

King John stood by the window,
And frowned to see below
The happy bands of boys and girls
All playing in the snow.
A while he stood there watching,
And envying them all ...
When through the window big and red
There hurtled by his royal head,
And bounced and fell upon the bed,
An india-rubber ball!

AND, OH, FATHER CHRISTMAS,
MY BLESSINGS ON YOU FALL
FOR BRINGING HIM 
A BIG, RED, 
INDIA-RUBBER BALL! 

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

From a railway carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like the troops of a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for the stringing of daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

~ Robert Louis Stevenson A Child's Garden of Verses 1885

*****

Sneezles

Christopher Robin 
Had wheezles
And sneezles,

They bundled him 
Into 
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.
They wondered
If wheezles
Could turn
Into measles,
If sneezles 
Would turn
Into mumps;
They examined his chest
For a rash,
And the rest
Of his body for swellings and lumps.
They sent for some doctors
In sneezles
And wheezles
To tell them what ought
To be done.
All sorts and conditions
Of famous physicians
Came hurrying round
At a run.
They all made a note
Of the state of his throat,
They asked if he suffered from thirst;
They asked if the sneezles
Came after the wheezles,
Or if the first sneezle
Came first.
They said, "If you teazle
A sneezle
Or wheezle,
A measle
May easily grow.
But humour or pleazle
The wheezle
Or sneezle,
The measle 
Will certainly go."
They expounded the reazles 
For sneezles
And wheezles,
The manner of measles
When new.
They said "If he freezles
In draughts and in breezles,
Then PHTHEEZLES
May even ensue."

    *    *

Christopher Robin
Got up in the morning,
The sneezles had vanished away.
And the look in his eye
Seemed to say to the sky,
"Now, how to amuse them to-day?"

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak

Of all the Knights in Appledore
The wisest was Sir Thomas Tom.
He multiplied as far as four,
And knew what nine was taken from
To make eleven. He could write
A letter to another Knight.

No other Knight in all the land
Could do the things which he could do.
Not only did he understand
The way to polish swords, but knew
What remedy a Knight should seek
Whose armour had begun to squeak.

And, if he didn't fight too much,
It wasn't that he didn't care
For blips and buffetings and such,
But felt that it was hardly fair
To risk, by frequent injuries,
A brain as delicate as his.

His castle (Castle Tom) was set
Conveniently on a hill;
And daily, when it wasn't wet,
He paced the battlements until
Some smaller Knight who couldn't swim
Should reach the moat and challenge him.

Or sometimes, feeling full of fight,
He hurried out to scour the plain,
And, seeing some approaching Knight,
He either hurried home again,
Or hid; and, when the foe was past,
Blew a triumphant trumpet-blast.

One day when good Sir Thomas Tom
Was resting in a handy ditch,
The noises he was hiding from,
Though very much the noises which
He'd always hidden from before,
Seemed somehow less....Or was it more?

The trotting horse, the trumpet's blast,
The whistling sword, the armour's squeak,
These, and especially the last,
Had clattered by him all the week.
Was this the same, or was it not?
Something was different. But what?

Sir Thomas raised a cautious ear
And listened as Sir Hugh went by,
And suddenly he seemed to hear
(Or not to hear) the reason why
This stranger made a nicer sound
Than other Knights who lived around.

Sir Thomas watched the way he went -
His rage was such he couldn't speak,
For years they'd called him down in Kent
The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak!
Yet here and now he looked upon
Another Knight whose squeak had gone.

He rushed to where his horse was tied;
He spurred it to a rapid trot.
The only fear he felt inside 
About his enemy was not
"How sharp his sword?" "How stout his heart?"
But "Has he got too long a start?"

Sir Hugh was singing, hand on hip,
When something sudden came along,
And caught him a terrific blip
Right in the middle of his song.
"A thunderstorm!" he thought. "Of course!"
And toppled gently off his horse.

Then said the good Sir Thomas Tom,
Dismounting with a friendly air,
"Allow me to extract you from
The heavy armour that you wear.
At times like these the bravest Knight
May find his armour much too tight."

A hundred yards or so beyond
The scene of brave Sir Hugh's defeat
Sir Thomas found a useful pond,
And, careful not to wet his feet,
He brought the armour to the brink,
And flung it in...and watched it sink.

So ever after, more and more,
The men of Kent would proudly speak
Of Thomas Tom of Appledore,
"The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak."
Whilst Hugh, the Knight who gave his best,
Squeaks just as badly as the rest.

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

The Friend

There are lots and lots of people who are always asking things,
Like Dates and Pounds-and-ounces and the names of funny Kings,
And the answer's always Sixpence or A Hundred Inches Long.
And I know they'll think me silly if I get the answer wrong.

So Pooh and I go whispering, and Pooh looks very bright,
And says, "Well, I say sixpence, but I don't suppose I'm right."
And then it doesn't matter what the answer ought to be,
'Cos if he's right, I'm Right, and if he's wrong, it isn't Me.

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

Twice Times

There were Two Little Bears who lived in a Wood,
And one of them was Bad and the other was Good.
Good Bear learnt his Twice Times One -
But Bad Bear left all his buttons undone.

They lived in a Tree when the weather was hot,
And one of them was Good, and the other was Not.
Good Bear learnt his Twice Times Two -
But Bad Bear's thingummies were worn right through.

They lived in a Cave when the weather was cold,
And they Did, and they Didn't Do, what they were told.
Good Bear learnt his Twice Times Three -
But Bad Bear never had his hand-ker-chee.

They lived in the Wood with a Kind Old Aunt,
And one said "Yes'm," and the other said "Shan't!"
Good Bear learnt his Twice Times Four -
But Bad Bear's knicketies were terrible tore.

And then quite suddenly (just like Us)
One got Better and the other got Wuss.
Good Bear muddled his Twice Times Three -
But Bad Bear coughed in his hand-ker-chee!

Good Bear muddled his Twice Times Two -
But Bad Bear's thingummies looked like new.
Good Bear muddled his Twice Times One -
But Bad Bear never left his buttons undone.

There may be a Moral, though some say not;
I think there's a moral, though I don't know what.
But if one gets better, as the other gets wuss,
These Two Little Bears are just like Us.
For Christopher remembers up to Twice Times Ten ...
But I keep forgetting where I put my pen.* 
 

* So I have had to write this one in pencil.

Alan Alexander Milne
1882-1956

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

Waiting at the Window

These are my two drops of rain
Waiting at the window-pane.

I am waiting here to see
Which the winning one will be.

Both of them have different names.
One is John and one is James.

All the best and all the worst
Comes from which of them is first.

James has just begun to ooze.
He's the one I want to lose.

John is waiting to begin.
He's the one I want to win.

James is going slowly on.
Something sort of sticks to John.

John is moving off at last.
James is going pretty fast.

John is rushing down the pane.
James is going slow again.

James has met a sort of smear.
John is getting very near.

Is he going fast enough?
(James has found a piece of fluff.)

John has hurried quickly by.
(James is talking to a fly.)

John is there, and John has won!
Look! I told you! Here's the sun!

~ A A Milne, Now We Are Six 1927

*****

[Now We Are Six]

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