Drawing and Art Library: Part Two: Art Books For Children

Betty Edwards has a large section in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about the creative ability of children and their development as artists as they mature. Apparently, most adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills beyond their level of development at the ages of nine or ten years old and are self-conscious and embarrassed  about their artistic abilities. At this particular age, children suddenly become very self-critical and embarrassed about their attempts to produce less than perfectly realistic depictions, often internalising the derogatory opinions of significant others and then, sadly and abruptly, abandoning their art.

She discusses the different stages of artistic development from :

Scribbling (1.5 to 4 years old) and its different stages. Symbolic and simple, it increases in complexity at 3.5 years old, reflecting the child’s growing awareness and perceptions of the world around him/her. Details of clothing are incorporated at 4 years old and between 4 and 5 years old, pictures are used to tell stories, portray feelings and work out problems.

Between 5 and 6 years old, the child has developed a set of symbols to create a landscape, usually including the ground and sky; a house or home with relevant details (door with doorknob, windows and curtains, and  a roof with chimney); a path and fence; trees and flowers, birds and insects, and maybe people or family members; mountains, clouds and a sun and/or rainbow and rain.

By 9 or 10 years old, that dreaded definitive age (!), children aim for increasing detail and realism in their art. Concern for composition diminishes and drawings are differentiated by gender, due to cultural factors. Boys begin to draw cars, weapons, fighting scenes and legendary heroes like pirates and Vikings, while girls depict flowers in vases, waterfalls, mountains reflected in still lakes, pretty girls and fashion models. Cartoons become more popular, as they enable early adolescents to avoid the feeling that their drawing is ‘babyish’!

By age 10 or 11 years, their passion for realism is in full bloom and when their drawings are less than perfectly realistic, children become discouraged and it is at this point that continued art education is so important to help them understand the artistic process and give them tools and techniques to achieve their goals.

Unfortunately, during my secondary school education, our subjects were streamed in lines and  because I followed academic subjects like languages, sciences and advanced mathematics, I did not return to art study until matriculation. In those days, most people were able to matriculate in one year with four subjects, but because physics and chemistry were studied over two years, and I had already gained results in Biology and Maths, I was able to fill the extra two lesson slots with English Literature and Art. However, because of the lack of tuition in the intervening years and my lack of self-confidence in the artistic sphere, especially compared to the amazing efforts of my fellow art students, I majored in Art History, with Batik as my medium for the practical component!

Little wonder then that I placed such a high value on developing creativity in my own children, who studied art all the way through and past the danger period, becoming very competent adult artists. In fact, my daughter Caroline has just finished illustrating her first book, a self-help publication, written by her sister’s friend, a personal life coach, Hayat Berkaoui. See: http://www.hayatcoaching.com/   and https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hayat%20ber. This will be the front cover. Look out for it!BlogArtBooks70%IMG_8320Here are some of the books I used to maintain, nurture and develop my children’s artistic talent.

You Can Draw Anything by Kim Gamble 1994

We were lucky enough to attend a talk given by the creator of Tashi at my children’s primary school in Armidale. For information about Kim, see: http://tashibooks.com/Kimgamble.html about Kim, for information about the Tashi books, see: http://tashibooks.com/books.html and for Kim’s illustration process, it is especially worth watching: http://tashibooks.com/illustrating.html. Another excellent video clip can be found on http://tashibooks.com/Creators.html, as well as on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVxuefbKqoI.

I was so sad to discover during my research for this post that Kim had died in February 2016 at the far too early age of 63 years old! See his tribute by Anna Fienberg, his co-creator of the Tashi books at: http://readingtime.com.au/vale-kim-gamble-13-july-1952-19-february-2016/.

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I loved this book with its quirky illustrations, humorous text and imaginative suggestions, using basic shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals and triangles) as starting points, which make the whole drawing process look so easy.  Along the way, he covers: Using a Grid; Drawing Faces and Human Figures, including Action Men; Drawing Animals; Perspective; and Shading and Cross-Hatching.

He includes illustrated instructions for drawing favourite childhood subject matter like cars, planes and trains; fairies and flying witches; castles; forests and flowers; and dragons, dinosaurs and whales!

Drawing should be FUN and the next book by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy is another wonderful addition to your children’s art library!

Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy 1999

Quentin Blake is very well-known for his illustrations for many of Roald Dahl’s books, favourites among children, so the illustrations in this delightful sketching guide are very familiar and appealing to  children, their parents and  Roald Dahl readers. See: https://www.quentinblake.com/; https://www.quentinblake.com/tags/roald-dahl; and http://www.roalddahl.com/blog/2016/march/quentin-blake-collaborating-with-roald-dahl.

BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.37.35This book is so much fun and very child-centred in its approach, with its first page dedicated to the child owner’s signature and lots of intentional mistakes, smudges and scribbles. I love the authors’ ‘Gung-Ho approach to art’ (photo below of page 5); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.31.56 and admonition to avoid self-criticism or listen to negative remarks! (photo of page 22).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.08The authors encourage children to draw on the pages and this book is littered with my daughter Jenny’s artwork and I’m sure contributed greatly to the development of her artistic talent (see photo below of pages 28 and 29 : Clocks and Candles).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.26BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.36 I love her illustrations of Dogs (Page 60);BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.35.47 Birds (Page 63); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.36.20 and Pigs (Page 65). BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.36.10The latter photo featuring an illustration of Piglutta, a central character of the annual magazines she produced as a teenager and her first novel, The Adventures of Camel, Piggy and Hippoe 2008.BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 15.58.37 Horses, fish, crocodiles, cockatoos, emotional rabbits, human faces and figures are also covered and, despite its informal and humorous approach, the book still manages to impart valuable knowledge about perspective; light and shadow; and silhouettes.BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.34.46Another very effective technique involves asking children to lend their own touch of genius to unfinished drawings. See the photo above of the Greatly Fearded 14-Legged Galumposaurus, Which Needs a Back End (Pages 54 to 55) and the photo below, Mrs Thudkin’s Floppaterasis and the 3-Headed Red-Spotted Gorff (Pages 56 to 57).BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.35.34It is a terrific book and even comes complete with a clear pencil case, containing a red and black watercolour pencil and a black ink sketch pen, attached to the spine.

You Can Draw a Kangaroo: The Poems Tell You What To Do 1964/ 1985 Published forthe Australian Information Service by the Australian Government Publishing Service

A delightful quirky old guide to drawing Australian animals from my childhood, which I still use to create embroidery designs.BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.08.52 Using humorous rhyme, as indicated by the subtitle, and sequential drawings based on basic shapes (ovals, circles etc ), it makes it easy to produce basic recognizable line drawings of our unique Australian wildlife, including a Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna, Budgerigar, Magpie, Wombat, Platypus, Goanna, Pelican, Kookaburra, Koala, Boobook Owl, Brolga, Bandicoot, Cockatoo, Glider, Swan, Groper, Turtle, Cassowary, Mud-Skipper, Frilled Lizard and Lyrebird. Here is a sample page: The Kangaroo.BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.37.15How To Draw and Paint the Outdoors: Practical Techniques for All Junior Painters  by Moira Butterfield 1995

A lovely children’s book and my final book for today! As you all know, I am a great believer in forging the link between nature and children, and this book is a valuable contributor to the cause, as well as developing the child’s passion and ability for drawing and painting. It is written for children between the ages of seven and twelve, a very important make-or-break period for children’s art!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.01.50

There are many wonderful practical examples and easy-to-follow instructions on perspective; light and shade; mixing colours; brush strokes and painting without a brush (stippling, dot/ dash painting, sponging, dragging and combing, waxing and scratching); working with photographs; scaling and enlarging pictures; and the realistic portrayal of a range of subject matter from landscapes, city scapes and industrial scenes to sky, water and waves, and trees and flowers, as well as information on colouring with different types of paints, pastels, chalks and crayons, and more unusual techniques like printing, finger painting, painting on glass, textured rubbings and collages. Other projects include: Making a Portfolio; a Viewfinder; a 3-D Landscape; and Maps and Models.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - CopyPlease note that last month’s post on Design and Inspiration also featured some wonderful books for encouraging children’s art and creativity: The Usborne Book of Art Ideas and The Usborne Book of Art Projects. See: https://wordpress.com/post/candeloblooms.com/51827.

Next week, I will be looking at some of my favourite books on Watercolour Painting, as well as Artists’ Journals!  

Musings on Poetry Part Three: Australian Poetry and Nonsense Verse

Finally, a look at specific genres of poetry: Australian Poetry and Nonsense Verse.

Australian Poetry

We have two books of Australian poetry: a general tome and one devoted entirely to the poems of Banjo Paterson. As in Parts One and Two, remember that many of the poems mentioned can be accessed online through sites like:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems;

https://allpoetry.com;

https://www.poets.org;  and

https://www.poemhunter.com.

The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse, chosen by Beatrice Davis 1984/ 1986

We are very lucky here in Australia to have had some wonderful poets from the anonymous songs of convict times to Dorothea Mackellar, Mary Gilmore, Henry Lawson, Henry Kendall, AB Paterson (Banjo Paterson), PJ Hartigan and CJ Dennis, as well as the more modern offerings of Kenneth Slessor, Ian Mudie, Douglas Stewart, Judith Wright, James McAuley and Max Harris, Randolph Stow and Les Murray. Here are some of my favourites:

Anonymous verses: The Wild Colonial Boy; The Dying Stockman; and Click Go the Shears, Boys;

Henry Kendall (1839-1892): Bellbirds;

Thomas E Spencer (1845-1910): How McDougal Topped the Score, a wonderful poem about our national game, cricket;

Jack Moses (1860-1945): Nine Miles From Gundagai, about the famous dog on the tuckerbox. See: https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-dog-on-the-tuckerbox-1464302  for the full story!;

AB Paterson (1864-1941), who wrote so many famous poems. See below for more details.

Mary Gilmore (1865-1962): Old Botany Bay;

Henry Lawson (1867-1922): Ballad of the Drover; and Andy’s Gone with Cattle;

CJ Dennis (1876-1938): The Intro (‘Er name’s Doreen) and The Play (‘Wot’s in a name) from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke; and Country Fellows;

PJ Hartigan (1879-1952): Said Hanrahan: A wonderful poem about the pessimistic attitude of some farmers towards the Australian weather with all it’s extremes, ‘We’ll all be rooned’, said Hanrahan..! My brother-in-law knew it by heart and recited it spontaneously off the top of his head at our wedding reception in 1983, which had been moved indoors onto the verandah of our old homestead at the last minute after unseasonal rain and flooding! It made the day!;

Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968): My Country, known by every schoolchild across the country and generations for its famous line: ‘I love a sunburnt country’ at the start of the second stanza. In fact, most Australians would be able to recite just that particular stanza:

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel sea,

Her beauty and her terror-

The wide brown land for me!

So evocative of our wide brown landscape with all its vagaries of weather and so so Australian!;

Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971): Five Bells; and his mesmerizing poem, Sleep (Do you give yourself to me utterly, Body and no-body, flesh and no-flesh, Not as a fugitive, blindly or bitterly, But as a child might, with no other wish? Yes, utterly);

Douglas Stewart (1913-1985): Brindabella; and Lady Feeding the Cats. He also wrote a verse play called The Fire on the Snow about the doomed Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica by Robert Falcon Scott 1941;

Judith Wright (1913-2000): Magpies; and Woman’s Song;

John Manifold (1915-1985): The Bunyip And The Whistling Kettle;

James MacAuley (1917-1976): Pastoral; Magpie; Spider on the Snow; and Canticle. James MacAuley was one of the two young poets (the other being Harold Stewart), who were the names behind the Ern Malley hoax, played by AD Hope on Max Harris (1921-1995), the founder of the modernist literary journal, the Angry Penguins. Max was also a poet himself, writing The Tantanoola Tiger, which is also in this treasury;

Randolph Stow (1935-2010): The Ghost at Anlaby. I have only just read this poem and its images and word inventions, reminiscent of Dylan Thomas, like ‘antwaisted, hamsleeved, bellskirted ladies’ and ‘Rosella-plumed sun’ greatly appeal. I studied his novel, The Merry-go-round In the Sea 1965 at school and absolutely loved it. It revolves around a young boy’s coming-of-age in Geraldton, Western Australia. I love reading books about places I know well (though having not visited Geraldton or WA before 2008, it’s more about Australia in this case!) and I particularly loved his descriptions of the beach, the local town and Mrs Maplestead’s old homestead and garden, where Rick’s widowed grandmother and maiden Aunt Kay lived, reminding me so much of old country properties and families, like that of my husband – the Stephens of Cedar Glen; and

Les Murray (1938-): Les has published over 30 volumes of poetry and has been rated by the National Trust of Australia as ‘one of the 100 Australian Living Treasures’! This book includes: The Broad Bean Sermon; Rainwater Tank; and The Future, all areas to which the ordinary Australian can relate!

Complementing the poems are some beautiful artworks and black-and-white photographs and illustrations throughout the treasury, reason enough to buy the book, and at the back are biographies of the poets featured.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (704)

AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s Collected Verse: With the Original Illustrations of Norman Lindsay, Hal Gye and Lionel Lindsay 1921/ 1984

Immortalising so much of bush life in Australia in his lengthy poems, it is worth owning a separate copy of all the prolific outpourings of this amazing poet! Andrew Barton Paterson (1864-1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author, who wrote numerous ballads and poems about Australian life, especially rural areas and the outback. Some of my favourite classics are:

The Man From Snowy River, whose first half I have learnt and can quote with the odd mistake!

Clancy of the Overflow, another famous poem, which I have learnt by heart and which typifies the yearning for the bush, when trapped in a ‘dingy little office, where a stingy ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall, And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city, Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all’; A terrific poem! His poems are so humorous and celebrate the ocker from:

The Geebung Polo Club; The Man From Ironbark; Johnson’s Antidote; A Bush Christening; and

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle; and, then there is, of course, Australia’s unofficial and much-loved bush anthem:

Waltzing Matilda (1895):

While many people struggle beyond the first verse of our official Australian anthem, Advance Australia Fair , written by Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878 and replacing ‘God Save the Queen‘ in 1984, most do know and can even possibly recite this wonderful iconic poem!

Based on the story of Samuel Hoffmeister, a shearer, who was part of a strike at Dagworth Station in 1894, three years after the Great Shearers’ Strike in Queensland, which almost brought the colony to civil war and was only resolved when the army stepped in. After the situation turned violent with the burning of a woolshed, killing a large number of sheep in the process, the owner of Dagworth Station and three policemen gave chase to Hoffmeister, who, rather than be captured, shot and killed himself at Combo Waterhole, near Winton.

Banjo Paterson stayed at Dagworth Station in January 1895, when he penned the words, the poem being set to music, played on a zither by Christina Macpherson, one of the family members at the station. It was based on her remembered rendition of the Craigielea March 1890, which itself is based on a Scottish Celtic folk tune, Thou Bonny Wood of Craigielea 1806.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (722)

Nonsense Verse

Another specific genre of poetry and a particular love of mine with its humorous play on words and its imagination and creativity and just plain fun! Defined as: ‘humorous or whimsical verse that differs from other comic verse in its resistance to any rational or allegorical interpretation’ by the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, it often uses coined, meaningless words and strong prosodic elements like rhythm and rhyme. Often written for children, it is an ideal way to finish off this post and come full circle!

Limericks are the best known form of nonsense verse, but some poets have turned it into an art-form, including Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, Edward Gorey, Ogden Nash, Dr Seuss, Spike Milligan, Roald Dahl and even our own Leunig, who features in: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/11/09/the-wonderful-world-of-art-part-two-post-1900s/.

Here are some of my favourites:

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

: Edward Lear’s Nonsense Songs 1953: Includes The Owl and The Pussy-Cat, one of my favourite children’s poems; The Jumblies (They went to sea in a sieve, they did, In a sieve they went to sea.); The Dong With a Luminous Nose; The Pobble Who Has No Toes; and the delightfully-titled and quirky poem, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat. I love Edward Lear’s original simple illustrations, accompanying his verse.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (723)

Other nonsense poems, which I love, but do not own are:

Lewis Carroll 1832-1898:  

Jabberwocky , whose brilliant first verse typifies this genre with its nonsensical words

: ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe’  and

The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits 1876, described as the longest and best sustained nonsense poem in the English language. It also cleverly contained an acrostic on the name of his then-favourite child friend, Gertrude Chataway, whose name is also found in the first words of each stanza of the poem: Girt, Rude, Chat, Away.

Lewis Carroll’s verse can be appreciated in his famous children’s novel, Alice in Wonderland. I have two copies: A fragile small hardback from 1899 (first photo); and my childhood copy from 1965 (second photo). It is interesting comparing the illustrations at the front.

BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (725)BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (731) Another difference is the poem at the very front of the 1899 book, which is absent in the later copy.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (726)BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (727)

Here are some of his classic verses throughout the book, which will be very familiar to past readers and display Lewis Carroll’s complete mastery of nonsense verse.

BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (728)BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (729)BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (730)Image (732)Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) is remembered for his The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts 1896 (https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/belloc/hilaire/bad/ ) and Cautionary Tales 1907, which can be accessed at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27424/27424-h/27424-h.htm.

Even though this is a modern book, Christopher Matthews only being born in 1939, because his book is a send-up of AA Milne (1882-1926), I am including it here:

Now We Are Sixty by Christopher Matthew 1999 A gift for my husband’s 60th birthday in 2007, this amusing book, written in rhyme, sends up AA Milne’s Now We Are Six for an audience reared on this famous book! There are some very funny poems with titles like: Let’s All Go Mad (after Buckingham Palace), the first line being ‘They’re changing sex at Buckingham Palace’. Definitely NOT a children’s book! Or Cutting Edge, based on Happiness:

Tom had a

Brand New

Personal Computer;

Tom was

Plugged

On the

Internet; Tom had

The Works.

But was

Techno-illiterate,

And that

Was pretty

Much

That.

I also loved Insomnia, modelled on In the Dark: ‘I’ve been to dinner, And over-eaten, And drunk a brandy or three; I’ve taken a couple of Alka-Seltzer, And had a jolly good pee’. Like the children’s version, it’s content is perfect for its target audience. There are just so many witty poems that it really is worth purchasing a copy for any nearest and dearest approaching that magic age! And no, I don’t think you can find them online just yet!

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TS Eliot (1888-1965)

Nonsense verse can also includes light verse like Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot, a collection of whimsical poems about feline psychology and sociology, and which was later adapted to the musical Cats, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It contains classics like The Rum Tum Tugger; The Song of the Jellicles; Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer; Old Deuteronomy; (The Magical)Mr Mistoffelees; Macavity: The Mystery Cat; and Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat.BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (723)

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) had some wonderful nonsense verse. For example,

A Word to Husbands

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.            And

A Flea and a Fly in a Flue

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, “let us flee!”
“Let us fly!” said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Dr Seuss (1904-1991)

We were all raised on the books of Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), in turn raising our own kids on them. He is still popular today. Here is our well-thumbed battered copy of one of his famous books:

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Who does not love: Horton Hear a Who 1954; the topical How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1957; The Cat in the Hat 1957 and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back 1958; Green Eggs and Ham 1960; One Fish Tow Fish Red Fish Blue Fish 1960; Fox in Socks 1965; The Lorax 1971; and Oh, The Places You Will Go 1990, a gift from friends on our departure from the family property and the start of our big adventure called Life. I love the introductory lines:

‘Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!’

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For more, see: http://www.drseussart.com/.

It even spawned a delightful book, written in a very similar style by Marion Holland  (1908-1989), called A Big Ball of String  1958, one of my son’s favourite childhood books.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (734)

Spike Milligan (1918-2002)

: Silly Verse for Kids 1959. It includes the delightfully-titled On the Ning Nang Nong: ‘On the Ning Nang Nong, Where the cows go Bong, And the monkeys all say Boo! There’s a Nong-Nang-Ning, Where the trees go Ping! And the teapots jibber jabber joo‘. It definitely has a ring to it and was one of the most popular songs on Play School. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SUU1f3Mgpc. To see Spike Milligan reading his poem, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wom1OzwzLw.

Another verse in this book is the delightful Lady B’s Fleas:

Lady Barnaby takes her ease
Knitting over coats for fleas
By this kindness fleas are smitten
that’s why she’s very rarely bitten.

For more, see: https://www.poemhunter.com/spike-milligan/ and http://www.musingsbylizzytish.com/cn/silly-verse-for-kids.htm.

There is a very fine line between nonsense verse and children’s books, and while the next two books from my childrens’ childhoods could have fit easily into Tuesday’s post on Children’s Poetry, I have included them here, as they represent both Australian Verse AND Nonsense Verse! Plus, I used to love reading both of them out loud to the kids. As with children’s film, especially animated films, if a book can entertain both children and their parents alike, then in my book, it is a very successful production!

My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch by Graeme Base 1983

Illustrated and written by Graeme Base (1958-), this lovely chidren’s story is totally written in rhyme and introduces young readers to the Australian bush and life outback, as well as some of our wonderful Australian place-names, animals and birds.BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (737)

Wombat Stew by Marcia K Vaughan 1984

I adored this book. It has such a terrific rollicking verse, especially the chorus, which goes: ‘Wombat Stew, Wombat stew, Gooey, brewy, Yummy, chewy, Wombat stew!’ There is lots of repetition and the illustrations by Pamela Lofts are terrific! There is even a musical score for the chorus at the end.BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (738)

Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Roald Dahl was a favourite with my children and not only wrote brilliant books, but while researching this post, I discovered that he was also was a gifted comic poet, writing 27 poems. Try this send up for example:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
“I live with my brat in a high-rise flat,
So how in the world would I know.”

I also enjoyed his versions of The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. See: https://www.roalddahlfans.com/dahls-work/poems/. I would love to read his poem, Where Art Thou, Mother Christmas?, which was published as a charity Christmas card to benefit the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in England. In it, he wonders why we never hear of Mother Christmas, who probably buys and wraps all the gifts , while Father Christmas takes all the credit: ‘Down with Father Christmas, that unmitigated jerk!’

And now, because it IS Christmas, I will finish with the old favourite traditional Christmas poem:

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

Wishing you all a Very Safe and Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year! Much Love, Jane xxx

Musings on Poetry Part Two: General Adult Poetry Books and Specific Poets

Yesterday, we began the exciting discovery and journey into the world of Children’s Poetry, the forerunner of a continued love of poetry into the world of adult verse.

This next section looks at some of our favourite general poetry books, of which I only possess two, and specific poets including Wordsworth and fellow Romantic Poets, as well as John Masefield, Rupert Brookes, WB Yeates, Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas.

General Poetry Books for Adults

I don’t have many general poetry books, but here are two of my favourites from either end of the scale time-wise! Remember that, as in Part One, many of the poems mentioned can be accessed online through sites like:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems;

https://allpoetry.com;

https://www.poets.org;  and

https://www.poemhunter.com.

The Open Road: A Little Book for Wayfarers 1899/ 1948 (45th edition), compiled by EV Lucas

I treasure my little thin copy of this delightful anthology, as well as its premise:BlogPoetryBooksReszd80%Image (715)The Table of Contents is divided into:

Farewell to Winter and the Town;

The Road;

Spring and the Beauty of the Earth;

The Lover Sings;

Sun and Cloud, and the Windy Hills;

Companions;

Birds, Blossoms and Trees;

Summer Sports and Pastimes;

Refreshment and the Inn;

Garden and Orchard;

Music Beneath a Branch;

The Sea and the River;

The Reddening Leaf;

Night and the Stars;

A Little Company of Good Country People;

A Handful of Philosophy; and The Return.

As you can see, all the good important things of life!BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (714)

I particularly loved:

In City Streets by Ada Smith;

The Early Morning by Hilaire Belloc;

The Joys of the Road by Bliss Carman;

A number of poems simple titled ‘Song’:

Song (also known as Pippa’s Song) and Home Thoughts From Abroad by Robert Browning;

Song  (from Arcadia poem) by Sir Philip Sidney; and

Song by James Thomson;

The Lady of the Lambs by Alice Meynell;

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron;

Beauty by John Masefield, a particular favourite!;

The Cloud by Percy Bysshe Shelley;

Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats;

Ruth by Thomas Hood;

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose epic poem, The Ancient Mariner, we had to learn by heart at school;

The Brook by Alfred, Lord Tennyson;

Night by William Blake; and finally,

Henry VI’s Pastoral Wish by William Shakespeare, the famous bard himself!

All the poems mentioned can be accessed online. I have generally not included old favourites, which appear in other books in this post eg The Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats or The Vagabond by RL Stevenson. I could not find JW Mackail’s translation of Laus Veneris by Ascepiades, so am reproducing it here:

‘Sweet is the snow in summer for the thirsty to drink, and sweet for sailors after winter to see the garland of spring; but most sweet when one cloak shelters two lovers, and the tale of love is told by both’.

The passage below was another favourite, which exemplified the feeling of joy, freedom and exhilaration felt by my seven year-old son on his conquest of the high sand-dunes at Cloudy Bay at the southern end of Bruny Island, Tasmania on World Environment Day 1992, when we went searching for the extremely rare forty-spotted pardalotes!Image (720)BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (720)I also enjoyed the little introductory spiels, including quotes, at the start of each section; the super-thin paper pages and the beautiful green front and back papers of the book, showing the daytime (sun) at the start and the nighttime (moon) at the end.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (713)BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (721)For more ‘modern’ poetry, we have this small paperback, though it is now over fifty years old!:

The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse 1918-1960  Edited by Kenneth Allott 1950/1974

This collection contains 175 poems by 86 poets and  divides the poems chronologically by their creators. They include , and please note that I have only mentioned particularly favourites, and more specifically, only those favourites, where I could provide an example of their poems.

: WB Yeats (1865-1939) eg A Prayer for my Daughter, which reminds me of Laurie Lee’s beautiful short story, The Firstborn, in his book, I Can’t Stay Long, in which he expresses his hopes and fears for his newborn daughter. Incidentally, Laurie Lee (1914-1997) is also included in this anthology, with his poem, April Rise;

: War Poets: Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) eg The Child at the Window; and

Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) eg The Pike;

WH Auden (1907-1973) eg Chorus from The Dog Beneath the Skin (Happy the hare at morning, for she cannot read); though I would have also included his poem, Two Songs for Hedli Anderson, immortalized in the film, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Stephen Spender (1909-1995) eg The Landscape near an Aerodrome;

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) eg Poem in October– more later! and

Philip Larkin (1922-1985) eg Church Going;

Kenneth has a very interesting discussion about the poetry of this time period in the introduction, as well as biographical notes at the start of each grouping of poems. General poetry books are very useful, in that they point you in the right direction for finding your favourite poets.

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Specific Poets

In chronological order!

Wordsworth: Selected Poems Edited by HM Margoliouth 1959/ 1980

William Wordworth (1770-1850) An English romantic poet and Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843-1850, whose house we visited at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, in the Lake District on our 1983 trip. I love his romantic uplifting nature-inspired poetry, including:

Lines: Written at a small distance from my house and sent by my little boy to the person to whom they are addressed (It is the first mild day of March);

To Sleep (A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by, One after one; the sound of rain, and bees Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas, Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky; I’ve thought of all by turns; and still I lie Sleepless…), a perfect poem for my husband at 3am, the witching hour of the Whale of Doom!

The Solitary Reaper (Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass),

And, of course, the poem, for which he is most famous: Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud).

As with most of these books devoted to one poet, the next one being the exception, there are extensive biographical notes and critiques of their works. But before I progress to WB Yeates, a nod to a few other poets, whose works I do not possess.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (717)

Other English Romantic poets:

John Keats (1795-1821), whose poetry I also love, but alas do not have any books! I didn’t realize that he died of tuberculosis when he was only 25 years old, nor that he was a licensed, but non-practising  apothecary for that matter! Luckily, I can access his beautiful poems on: http://keats-poems.com/. Among my favourites are: Ode to a Nightingale 1819 and To Autumn 1820.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892): The Brook; Charge of the Light Brigade; Crossing the Bar; and The Eagle. See: https://www.poemhunter.com/alfred-lord-tennyson/  and

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861): https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/how-do-i-love-thee-sonnet-43.

Later Poets:

John Masefield (1878-1967)

I should also have a copy of John Masefield poetry, as I love so many of his poems, including: Sea Fever; Cargoes; A Wanderer’s Song; The West Wind; Trade Winds; Roadways and Beauty, one of my favourites:

Beauty

I HAVE seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills

Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain:

I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils,

Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.

I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea,

And seen strange lands from under the arched white sails of ships;

But the loveliest thing of beauty God ever has shown to me,

Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes, and the dear red curve of her lips.

They all have such a lovely rhythm, as well as beautiful imagery. For more of his poetry, see: https://www.poemhunter.com/john-masefield/poems/.

Rupert Brookes (1887-1915)

Another later poet, whose poems I admire, but also do not possess a copy, is the First World War poet, Rupert Brookes. Like Keats and Dylan Thomas, he died far too young, from an infected mosquito bite, while on a French hospital ship off the coast of Greek island, Skyros. His most famous and much-loved poems include: The Great Lover and The Soldier. See: https://interestingliterature.com/2016/02/16/the-best-rupert-brooke-poems-everyone-should-read/.

WB Yeats: Selected Poems 1992  Selected by Ian Hamilton for Bloomsbury Poetry Classics

I love my little hardback Bloomsbury Poetry Classic edition, which I bought at the delightful café-bookshop, The Islandman, Dingle, Kerry, back in 1994!BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (712)

Irish-born WB Yeats (1865-1939) is one of my favourite poets and I love a number of his poems, including:

When You Are Old, the poem I read at my Dad’s funeral (Dad’s choice), though I would have also loved to have read his famous poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, as it reminds me so much of Dad, his self-sufficiency ideals, his beekeeping and his love of nature, books, silence and a peaceful life! Funnily enough, both poems are from The Rose 1893 and appear next to each other in my little book:BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (722)

An Irish Seaman Foresees his Death (From The Wild Swans at Coole 1919) (I know that I shall meet my fate Somewhere among the clouds above);

And Sailing to Byzantium (From The Tower 1928) (That is no country for old men…), though I would have loved to have seen A Coat and He Wishes For the Cloths if Heaven included:

A Coat by WB Yeates

I made my song a coat 

Covered with embroideries 

Out of old mythologies 

From heel to throat; 

But the fools caught it, 

Wore it in the world’s eyes 

As though they’d wrought it. 

Song, let them take it

For there’s more enterprise 

In walking naked.

He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven (From The Wind among the Reeds, 1899)

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Robert Frost: Selected Poems Edited by Ian Hamilton (yes, the same editor as the previous book!) 1969/1973

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was one of America’s best-known poets and a favourite poet of my generation, as many of us studied his poems at school. Here are some of my favourites:

From North of Boston 1914:

Mending Wall (Something there is that doesn’t love a wall);

After Apple-Picking (My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree Toward heaven still);

From Mountain Interval 1916:

The Road Not Taken (Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..). Possibly THE most famous Robert Frost poem, it is a tricky poem to learn by heart, but we did it! The problem is that you really need to recite it often to retain the correct order of the words, but it is a beautiful poem and so succinct about the choices we make, that influence and determine the direction of our lives and how really, no choice is necessarily the right one, only different.

From New Hampshire 1923:

Fire and Ice (Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice), an even more succinct little poem of only nine lines!

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (Whose woods these are I think I know) Another poem with tricky word order, it is so easy to start: Whose woods are these I think I know! I love the last verse and its repetition:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

From West-Running Brook 1928

The Rose Family, very pertinent to a rose lover like myself and a lovely little dig at scientific classification:

The Rose Family

The rose is a rose,

And was always a rose.

But the theory now goes

That the apple’s a rose,

And the pear is, and so’s

The plum, I suppose.

The dear only knows

What will next prove a rose.

You, of course, are a rose-

But were always a rose.

And finally, from A Witness Tree 1942:

The Gift Outright (The land was ours before we were the land’s).

His poems are just so lovely and have such a great sound when read out loud.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (709)

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition  Edited by John Goodby 2014

Born in Wales, the intense and passionate Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) burned with a fierce light and he died far too young at the age of 39 years old, but he left us some wonderful poems.

For years, I survived with my battered old Everyman’s Library 1978 paperback copy from schooldays, Dylan Thomas: Collected Poems 1932-1952, but it has now been supplanted with a beautiful birthday hardback book (photo at bottom of post). Here is my original copy:

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I love Dylan Thomas’s poetry, as so many of my generation do. I love his imagery, his phraseology and his use of invented words, and his stringing together of normally-unrelated words to create perfect visual images eg:

In the mustardseed sun, By full tilt river and switchback sea’ and ‘palavers of birds’, ‘the congered waves’ and ‘the thistledown fall’ in Poem on His Birthday; and

the mussel pooled and the heron priested shore’ and ‘the sea wet church the size of a snail With its horns through mist’, both from Poem in October.

I love his repetition, used to such devastating effect in And Death Shall Have No Dominion and Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night;  his rhythm in Lament and The Hand That Signed The Paper; and his use of tempo to create the required effect.

Fern Hill  literally sings and trips like a burbling brook or a child on the run from dawn till dusk, ‘before the children green and golden Follow him (time) out of grace’, when the tempo slows.

I also love his use of allusion, often quite elusive and well hidden by context. Here is an obvious one! ‘Incarnate devil in a talking snake’ in Incarnate Devil.

Obscure at times, and often quite bleak, these poems are so richly layered and sensuous, that if you haven’t had the fortune of encountering Dylan Thomas, definitely make the effort! All poems are online.

The appendices in the Centenary edition, contain extracts from letters and interviews and some very helpful notes for a full understanding of his poems, especially the more obscure ones!

My favourites are, in order of publication:

From 18 Poems 1934: Especially When the October Wind (1932) ;

From Twenty-Five Poems 1936: And Death Shall Have No Dominion (1933); and The Hand That Signed The Paper (1935);

From Deaths and Entrances 1946: Poem in October (1944) and Fern Hill (1945); and

From In Country Sleep 1952: Poem on His Birthday (1949); Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (1951); and Lament (1951).BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (705)

Tomorrow, I will be looking at two specific genres of poetry, which are favourites of mine: Australian Poetry and Nonsense Verse.

Musings on Poetry: Part One: Children’s Poetry Books

My final book post for the year covers my favourite poetry books, as well as my favourite poets! Poetry is such a personal preference. I’m afraid that I have to admit to being unashamedly conventional in my tastes! A true romantic at heart, though others may say ostrich-like, I love both art and poetry, which promotes positivity and beauty in images, words and thoughts and which makes you feel good! Nothing too deep or heavy or angst-ridden, where you immediately want to go and slit your wrists (or throat for that matter!), though there are exceptions like Dylan Thomas, who strings his words together so beautifully that he is still one of my favourite poets!

Poetry is for reading out aloud! I love the sound of the words and the rhyme, cadence and rhythm of the verse. I enjoy a wide eclectic range of forms from rhyming sonnets to some prose; Japanese haikus and funny limericks, and even terrible doggerel, some of which I have been known to write myself!!!

A love of poetry begins in childhood. Children respond so well to rhyme and rhythm and many of my favourite poetry stems from that time, so I have started with some favourite poetry books for children (today), progressing into some general poetry books for adults, and then, some specific poets, no doubt generational favourites (Wednesday), as well different  genres, including some of our wonderful Australian poems and humorous nonsense rhymes (Thursday). Please note that many of the poems mentioned can be accessed online through sites like:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems;

https://allpoetry.com;

https://www.poets.org;  and

https://www.poemhunter.com.

Poetry Books For Children

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are the very start of preparing children for the wonderful world of poetry and rhyme!

In the Old Gum Tree: Nursery Thymes and Verse for Little Kids Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox 1989/1990

This thin paperback contains old traditional favourites like Baa Baa Black Sheep and Ladybird, Ladybird, as well as colloquial Australian verse like Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree and other short rhymes and poems, written specifically for Australian children.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (736)

AA Milne (1882-1926)

When We Were Very Young, 1924

AA Milne was not only responsible for that wonderful children’s classic, Winnie the Pooh, with all its iconic characters, so loved by generations of children, but also for engendering a love of poetry in children. There are so many wonderful poems in this book, including (with first lines):

Buckingham Palace (They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace-Christopher Robin went down with Alice);

Happiness (John had Great Big Waterproof Boots On);

Puppy and I (I met a man as I went walking; We got talking, Man and I);

The Four Friends (Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow, Leonard was a lion with a six-foot tail, George was a goat, and his beard was yellow, And James was a very small snail!), a personal favourite;

Lines and Squares (Whenever I walk in a London street, I’m ever so careful to watch my feet). Remember doing this?!;

Market Square (I had a penny, A bright new penny. I took my penny to the market square);

Disobedience (James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree Took great Care of his Mother, Though he was only three), such a wonderful rhyme!;

The Three Foxes (Once upon a time there were three little foxes, Who didn’t wear stockings, and they didn’t wear soxes);

Rice Pudding (What is the matter with Mary Jane?);

Missing (Has anybody seen my mouse?);

The King’s Breakfast ( The King asked The Queen, and The Queen asked The Dairymaid: ‘Could we have some butter for The Royal slice of bread?’);

Hoppity (Christopher Robin goes Hoppity, hoppity, Hoppity, hoppity, hop!);

The Dormouse and the Doctor (There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)); and

Halfway Down (Halfway down the stairs Is a stair Where I sit).BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (724)

We also grew up with AA Milne’s other poetry book: Now We are Six by AA Milne 1927/ 1956, with classics like:

King John’s Christmas (King John was not a good man!);

Busy (I think I am a muffin man…But round about and round about and roundabout I go!);

Sneezles (Christopher Robin had sneezles and wheezles));

Binker (Binker – what I call him – is a secret of my own);

Cherry Stones (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor);

Buttercup Days (Where is Anne?), my poor sister’s bête noir;

Us Two (Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh, There’s always Pooh and me!);

Forgiven (I found a little beetle, so that Beetle was his name, And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same….And Nanny let my beetle out!);

The Little Black Hen (Berryman and Baxter, Prettiboy and Penn And old Farmer Middleton Are five big men);

The Good Little Girl (It’s funny how often they say to me, ‘Jane? Have you been a good girl?), my pet hate, but still memorable!; and

In the Dark (I’ve had my supper, And had my supper, and HAD my supper and all!)BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (716)

I love AA Milne’s repetition, his rhyme, his subject matter so pertinent to children’s lives, even today, although it is a very different time period, and his great sense of fun! It is hard to imagine that anyone would not know his poems, at least in the English-speaking world, but for those of you who don’t, see: https://www.poemhunter.com/alan-alexander-milne/poems/.

I think AA Milne is about to enjoy renewed popularity, with the current release of the film about him and the story behind the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh, Goodbye Christopher Robin. See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1653665/ for a description and the trailer.

Another lovely poetry book for children aged between six and twelve years of age is :

I Will Build You a House: Poems for Cushla, chosen by Dorothy Butler 1984.

While Dorothy  specifies in the introduction that she tries to avoid dividing her poetry into topics or themes, preferring to surprise her audience, many of the poems chosen are about animals and nature. They include some classic old poems, including:

Hurt No Living Thing by Christine Rossetti;

Four Ducks on a Pond by William Allingham; and

Envoy; Windy Nights; and Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (708)

When my children were young, we had a book of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry titled: A Child’s Garden of Verses 1885, which can be read online as part of the Gutenberg Project. See: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25609/25609-h/25609-h.htm. Like AA Milne, his poems are short, have rollicking rhyme (eg Windy Nights and My Shadow) and are so rich in imagery (eg Travel and Block City), so wonderful for developing the imagination and a lifelong love of poetry!

Envoy is one of my favourite poems by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Go, little book, and wish to all

Flowers in the Garden, meat in the hall,

A bin of wine, a spice of wit,

A house with lawns enclosing it,

A living river by the door,

A nightingale in the sycamore!

 Another poetry book I read to my children was: A New Treasury of Poetry, Compiled by Neil Philip 1990.

This book does divide its poems into subject matter with the following chapters:

A Child Went Forth;

Days are Where We Live;

Birds and Beasts;

Sing a Song of Seasons;

Children If You Dare Think;

Once Upon a Time;

The Land of Whipperginny; and

Goodnight; with an Index of Poets and an Index of Titles and First Lines in the back of the book.

I loved Neil Philip’s comparison of poetry as ‘most akin to magic’ in his introduction (page 14).

The poetry includes:

Traditional rhymes like ‘Lavender’s Blue’ ;‘I Know Where I’m Going, ‘This is the Key ’; ‘Lord Randal’; ‘How many Miles to Babylon’ ; ‘I Had a Little Nut-Tree’ and ‘Frankie and Johnny’;

and some famous, old, lyrical poems, including:

The Tyger by William Blake 1794 (Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright In the Forests of the night!);

The Cataract of Lodore by Robert Southey 1823;

I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood 1826;

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear 1871 (The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful pea-green boat), a delightful nonsense poem; and the particularly rousing poem:

The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes 1906 (The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding-Riding-riding-The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door);

As well as more modern (as opposed to ancient!) poems like :

The Rum Tum Tugger by TS Eliot (The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat) 1939

Days by Philip Larkin (What are days for? Days are where we live) 1953;

The Magpies by Denis Glover, one of my favourite poems with the chorus line: Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, so evocative of their beautiful song) 1964 ;  and

The History of the Flood by John Heath-Stubbs (Bang Bang Bang Said the nails in the Ark) 1971;

Some of the poems are common to adult anthologies like :

The Daffodils by William Wordsworth 1807;

A Thing of Beauty 1818 (A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness…) and To Autumn 1819 (Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness!), both by John Keats;

The Lake Isle of Innesfree by WB Yeats 1888;

Sea Fever by John Masefield 1902 (I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky)

Leisure by WH Davies 1911 (What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare);

After Apple-Picking 1914 and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 1922, both by Robert Frost 1914; and

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas 1945;BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (719)

The Macquarie Bedtime Story Book 1987, compiled by Rosalind Price and Walter McVitty also contains some wonderful poetry for children. Particularly memorable poems include:

A Rhyme to Jump into Bed With (Bounda-bounda-bounda bump!), a very bouncy fun poem; and Highrise (Do you know what I would build If all the blocks were mine? I’d pile them up And pile them up As high as I could climb), both by Sally Farrell Odgers.

When the King Rides By (Oh, what a fuss when the king rides by And the drum plays rat-a-tat-plan!); and Promises (If I had a needle, a needle, I’d sew you a wonderful cake!), both by Margaret Mahy;

When I Went to Byaduck (When I went to Byaduck, to Byaduck, to Byaduck, My Grandma said to me…!); and Waddle Duck (Ducks in the farmyard, ducks in the dawnlight, Waking up brightly as the day comes back, Waddle-duck, waddle-duck, Quack, quack, quack); both by Colin Thiele;

Stomping Horace by Doug MacLeod (Horace was a stomper In the second grade!); The Ant Explorer by CJ Dennis (Once a little sugar ant made up his mind to roam – To fare away far away, far away from home);

Ten Little Rabbits by Anonymous (Ten little rabbits playing round a mine. One slipped down a shaft, then there were nine);

Three Fleas by Bill Scott (Here are three fleas with powerful knees who can leap as high as the tallest trees – boing – boing – boing!);

M.’s Songs by JS Manifold (Coots eat waterbeetles, Rats eat cheese, Goats eat anything they Darned well please!), one of my all-time favourites;

Miss Strawberry’s Purse by Eric C Rolls (Miss Strawberry has a long fat purse To keep her money in); and

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by AB Paterson (‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze!)

All of them have wonderful rhyme and a great sense of fun and humour and many of them are written by Australian poets.BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (706)

My final poetry book for children, Come Listen: A Book of Poetry for Secondary Schools: First and Second Forms 1966 by Marjorie Pizer and Joan Reed was a textbook we studied in Grade Six of primary school, despite its title, and  I loved the poems in it!  They are divided into sections and I have given a small sample of examples in each grouping:

Story Poems and Ballads eg The Man From Snowy River by AB Paterson; The Minstrel Boy by Thomas Moore; The Listeners by Walter de la Mare; and The Wild  Colonial Boy (Anon);

Fun and Nonsense eg The Triantiwontigongalope by CJ Dennis; Johnson’s Antidote by AB Paterson; The Bunyip and the Whistling Kettle by John Manifold; Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll; and Sad Story of a Motor Fan by HA Field;

Animals and Other Creatures eg Macavity: The Mystery Cat by TS Eliot; The Eagle by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and  Snake by Ian Mudie;

Old Favourites eg The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt; and If by Rudyard Kipling;

People eg Hiawatha by HW Longfellow; and Clancy of the Overflow by AB Paterson;

Background to Today eg The Teams by Henry Lawson; Colonial Fleets by EJ Brady; They’ll Tell You About Me by Ian Mudie, such an iconic Aussie poem; and Old Botany Bay by Mary Gilmore.

Country and City eg A Song of Rain by CJ Dennis; Pippa’s Song by Robert Browning; Cargoes by John Masefield; and From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Thoughts and Feelings eg The Vagabond, again by Robert Louis Stevenson; Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc; Break, Break, Break by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; When You are Old by WB Yeats; and The Great Lover by Rupert Brooke.

This book gave me an excellent grounding in poetry, as well as in Australian verse (more later)!

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I hope this post has brought back very many happy memories, as well as given a few suggestions for poetry for today’s children. For more children’s poetry, see my post on Thursday on Nonsense Rhymes. Tomorrow, we enter the world of adult poetry!

Ode to Outdoor Washing Lines

Dedicated to Anne, with apologies to Dorothy Mackellar !  And Liz   !!!BlogOdewashgline20%ReszdIMG_1266 - Copy

I love the outdoor washing line !
The saviour of our nation :
From sanity to climate change,
So here is my oration…!

I love a full pegged washing line,
Of coloureds and of plains,
Exposed to sun and rugged wind
And sleet and drenching rains !
I love her wide horizons,
Her trailing skirts of bedding;
Her billowing shirts, her blowsy pants;
You see where this is heading…!!!

This verse must cease !
I mustn’t mock
That 19-0-4 poem.
I love its rhyme, its splendrous words,
Australia is my ho-em !
It also is the country of
The outdoor washing line,
Of pearly whites and stunning brights
And lingerie so fine !

There are so many models :
Australia holds a claim
To a circular rotating type.
The Hills Hoist is its name.
It is a regular fairground ride.
Not only does it spin,
It soars and dives and twists and jives,
As clothes go out and in !

While not as fun, the simple form,
Of two sticks and a line,
Is just as adequate for me.
This model suits me fine !

I love the look of outdoor lines :
The laundry in full sail,
The mix of all the colours
From fluoro brights to pales.
I love the sense of order
Of pegging out the wash.
The undies on the inside line,
The length of shirts…. but Gosh !

Is that a misfit pair of shorts
Amongst the row of smalls ? !
It offends my sense of order
And frankly, it appals

My well-developped OCD
And quirky little ways !
Some folk are even worse than me
And spend their washing days
In colour-matching clothes and pegs
Or only using blue
On socks and pink on undies !
I promise you, it’s true !!!

My daughter used to have a thing
About her clothes pegs’ cares.
She worried re their loneliness
If splitting colour pairs !                                                                                                                But back to why I love my line !
It’s not just how it looks !
Although the sight of flapping towels
Could fill a million books !

Their sound is also wonderful !
The tug and thwack they make,
As the wind grows ever stronger
In an all-out effort to take
Their clothes into blue yonder
And strew them o’er the ground,
For you to pick up later
In a game of ‘Lost and Found’ !

My mother also tells the tale
Of freezing Tassie Winters,
Of wringers and of coppers,
When Jack Frost would coat his splinters
On all the towelling nappies –
To dry took two days or three,
They were frozen stiff and solid !
She could clink a symphony !

And then, there is the rhythmic click
Of pegs, the whistling whizz
Of hinges when their plastic snaps
And fly off in a tizz !
The creaking of the trolley wheels,
The groaning wicker loads,
The crinkle of the folded cloths
Till my happiness explodes !!!

I love the feel of crisp dry towels,
The silken feel of sheets;
The soft wool socks, the fragile sheers !
Their texture also meets
The palates of those naughty kids,
The progeny of goats,
Who like to graze your linens
And the sleeves of drying coats !

I love the scent of sun-kissed shirts,
Their warmth against your face !
The dear old humble washing line
Will always hold a place
Within my heart !
It’s evident – it never is a chore
To peg the daily washing out !
For me, it’s not a bore !

That evil, slick, fast drier,
With its energy-guzzling ways,
May suit the full-time worker
With their hectic time-poor days !

It is the ultimate display
Of renewable power source :
The drying wind, the evaporative sun,
The odd rain shower, of course !
To rinse away the offerings
Of birds on their fly-past,
Or the little lint collection
Your machine will often cast
Upon your clothes when over-filled
Or mixed with fluffy gear.
It’s a minor inconvenience.
The drier’s worse, I fear !

It toasts your cuffs, it snags your smalls,
Your smelly socks it guzzles !
The location of that missing pair
Is one of Life’s big puzzles !!
I much prefer my washing line,
The gusty breeze, the sun;
The pegging out of laundry
Is really much more fun !

It’s earned my love, my favours,
My undying gratitude !
It is the very Best of Bests !
No greater platitude
Could ever pass my thankful lips.
I worship it each day.
I even dream of it at night and
Kneel to it to pray !

Core of my heart, my washing line
Fulfills my every need !
It has my awe-inspired respect !
Slow Drying is my creed !!!
It is a Threatened species
In our world of the mod-con,
But there will always be a line
Whatever planet I’m on !!!                                                         by    Jane Stephens

Notes
1. The Hills Hoist is a height-adjustable rotary clothes line, designed to permit the compact hanging of wet clothes and their maximum area to be exposed to drying by wind rotation.

It was manufactured first in Adelaide, South Australia , by Lance Hill, in 1945. It is considered one of Australia’s most recognisable icons, and is frequently used by artists as a metaphor for Australian suburbia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Apparently, one Darwin family reported that only thing left standing after Cyclone Tracy was their Hills Hoist ! It is still built in Australia and is listed as a National Treasure by the National Library of Australia.

2. The original poem, ‘My Country, by Dorothy Mackellar, was written as a home-sick 19 year old in Europe at the time and the full poem can be found at : http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/

It’s a beautiful poem, but unfortunately lends itself so easily to parody. There are some wonderful send-ups on the following sites :

http://allpoetry.com/poem/2247573-I-Love-A-Sunburnt-Country–Parody–by-georgie
https://giaoais10.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/poetic-parody/
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-02-09/oldpoemvsmodernscience/43762
http://kerrycue.com/tag/i-love-a-sunburnt-country-parody/
http://joannestle2.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/two-geographies-of-friendships-and-more.html
and finally , the wonderful ‘I Don’t Love a Sunburnt Country’ by Dominic John Gill, found here :
http://www.poetry.net.au/I%20dont%20love%20a%20sunburnt%20country.htm

3. And finally, some beautiful artwork. I suspect Jeffrey T. Larson may share my fetish : see his romantic paintings ‘Color of Daylight’; ‘Rose Print’; ‘The Light of Wind’; ‘Washed in Light’; ‘Over the Line’; and ‘Yellow and Blue’ at : http://jeffreytlarson.com/archive/figures/    and

https://www.pinterest.com/livinit2/art-jeffrey-t-larson/

Other lovely paintings involving washing lines include :

I also loved this post : http://marthamoments.blogspot.com.au/2014_06_01_archive.html

I will finish with some photos of my friend’s washing line, when she taught us how to dye with indigo ! A visual treat in deed !!!BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-12-20 13.17.50-2BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-12-20 14.47.33BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-11-21 12.11.52BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-12-20 14.50.51