Friday, April 04, 2008

Where are they now???
Books that once we cherished - that sat upon our bookshelves, or under some eager reader's bed. The poems that children snuggled up to hear Daddy read, - or Mummy - or anyone they could capture who was fair game to read aloud. And before they could read, they learned to rhyme along, and woe betide the reader who skipped the smallest word, or tried to finish a verse prematurely...

Where are they now, - these books that were passed along to grandchildren, and now are delicious repasts for the great grands. Do any of the grown up children recognize them?

I search the online book stores and find they can be bought for $192.50 or else they are no longer available..........they are probably terribly out of date for today's parents, - if not for today's children. But I, at least, have fond memories of Robert Louis Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verses, and reading to small boys playing with cars and trucks on the Land of Counterpane, When I was sick and lay a-bed / I had two pillows at my head / and all my toys beside me lay / to keep me company all the day.



And My Shadow, The Swing, The Wind, - all wonderful examples of Robert Louis Stevenson's affinity with children.


And then there were the marvelous poems of Mildred Pews Merryman,. Do you remember Ho - Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee- rollicking language that paints such exciting pictures. What child wouldn't dream of being a romantic pirate after listening to all that lovely rhythmic alliteration.

          Ho, for the Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee!
          He was as wicked as wicked could be,
          But oh, he was perfectly gorgeous to see!

          The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

          His conscience, of course, was as black as a bat,
          But he had a floppety plume on his hat
          And when he went walking it jiggled - like that!
          The plume of the Pirate Dowdee.

          His coat it was handsome and cut with a slash,
          And often as ever he twirled his mustache
          Deep down in the ocean the mermaids went splash,
          Because of Don Durk of Dowdee.

          Moreover, Dowdee had a purple tattoo,
          And struck in his belt where he buckled it through
          Were a dagger, a dirk, and a squizzamaroo,
          For fierce was the Pirate Dowdee.

          So feaful he was he would shoot at a puff,
          And always at sea when the weather grew rough

          He drank from a bottle and wrote on his cuff,
          Did Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

          Oh, he had a cutlass that swung at his thigh
          And he had a parrot called Pepperkin Pye,
          And a zigzaggy scar at the end of his eye

          Had Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

          He kept in a cavern, this buccaneer bold,
          A curious chest that was covered with mould,
          And all of his pockets were jingly with gold!
          Oh jing! went the gold of Dowdee.

          His consience, of course it was crook'd like a squash,
          But both of his boots made a slickery slosh,
          And he went throught the world with a wonderful swash,

          Did Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

          It's true he was wicked as wicked could be,
          His sins they outnumbered a hundred and three,
          But oh, he was perfectly gorgeous to see,
          The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

          It makes even a Great Grandma wide-eyed...


And The Moon a beautifully evocative lullaby poem.

Zoon, zoon, cuddle and croon--
Over the crinkling sea,
The moon man flings him a silvered net
Fashioned of moonbeams three.

And some folk say when the net lies long
And the midnight hour is ripe;
The moon man fishes for some old song
That fell from a sailor's pipe.

And some folk say that he fishes the bars
Down where the dead ships lie,
Looking for lost little baby stars
That slid from the slippery sky

And the waves roll out and the waves roll in
And the nodding night wind blows,
But why the moon man fishes the sea
Only the moon man knows.

Zoon, zoon, net of the moon
Rides on the wrinkling sea;
Bright is the fret and shining wet,
Fashioned of moonbeams three.

And some folk say when the great net gleams
And the waves are dusky blue,
The moon man fishes for two little dreams
He lost when the world was new.

And some folk say in the late night hours,
While the long fin-shadows slide,
The moon man fishes for cold sea flowers
Under the tumbling tide.

And the waves roll out and the waves roll in
And the gray gulls dip and doze,
But why the moon man fishes the sea
Only the moon man knows.

Zoon, zoon, cuddle and croon--
Over the crinkling sea,
The moon man flings him a silvered net
Fashioned of moonbeams three.

And some folk say that he follows the flecks
Down where the last light flows,
Fishing for two round gold-rimmed "specs"
That blew from his button-like nose.

And some folk say while the salt sea foams
And the silver net lines snare,
The moon man fishes for carven combs
That float from the mermaids' hair.

And the waves roll out and the waves roll in
And the nodding night wind blows,
But why the moon man fishes the sea
Only the moon man knows.


Do not let me go without some reference to On the Road to Raffydiddle

On the road to Raffydiddle
Sits a fiddler with a fiddle,
And there beneath the melting of the moon,
Each night he puts his chin
To his cheery violin
And plucks him out a frisky feather tune.

And when as they go down
To Raffydiddle town
The people hear him playing in the dusk,
Beside the crooked stile
They pause a little while
To dance beneath the moon the moneymusk.
...............

But those who come at dawn
Will find the fiddler gone
And all the music melted into musk.

Every Raffydiddle tune
Will be shut up in the moon
And none who seek will find his dark abode,
But where the music thinned
A creepy little wind
Will ripple down the Raffydiddle road.


etc etc - poignant and full of subtle comments.

Will you come and read it to me, - please, please, pulleease....




3 comments:

Willo said...

Hildred, your writing is such a breath of fresh air in this world of clash and bang. The children's poems were delightful to read again and make me think of my own mother reading them to me when I was small...and "Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod, went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat.." That probably isn't correct, but the memory is very sweet. She read to me and any of my little friends that cared to listen. It is a wonderful memory. Thanks for writing so beautifully. W

Hildred said...

Willo, thank you for being so kind and encouraging. Sometimes I feel my subjects are rather trite, but it seems that as you reach a certain age and the realization that you can't do anything about the clashing and the banging then you grow more mindful and aware of the beauty that surrounds us, and your thoughts turn more to long gone days, and memories of them. It seems a good way to hold on to happiness and serenity, and to what has been important in your life..

Fonnell said...

oh I remember those wonderful books! I have one of them in a reprint. My children loved them too. Thank-you for reminding me, I can pull them out for the grand baby. what a nice blog to read! Does anyone remember 'The little rabbit who wanted red wings'? I was so fond of it as a child. I finally after a long search found the old copy I remember with the little cloth red cover. I hold it and I'm a child again.