Children’s Poetry I have Loved, Part 1

Posting Stevenson’s The Lamplighter reminded me that there are numerous other poems which stick in my memory from early childhood. When my mother passed away at the age of 94 in 2011, I found on her shelves a crumbling copy of Two Hundred Best Poems for Boys and Girls, compiled by Marjorie Barrows and published in 1930 and 1938. Printed on very non-durable paper, most of the book fell to dust when I tried to read it – but I immediately recognized it as a book that I loved from my earliest days. I was fortunately able to find an intact copy on Abebooks – it’s also yellowed and fragile, but complete. Just for fun, I thought I’d share some of my favorite youth poetry here, as the muse moves me, because it’s one thing that gave me a love of words and language from an early age.

Jonathan Bing’s Manners

Beatrice Curtis Brown

Jonathan Bing takes off his hat
Whenever he meets a Tabby-cat;
Jonathan Bing bows down to his toes
Whenver he passes a sheep he knows.
Oh, search from Paris to old Japan,
There’s none so courtly as Jonathan!

I’ve seen him murmer a “how-d’you-do”
To a tired forsaken dancing-shoe;
I’ve seen him lend his handkerchief
To a watering can that had come to grief;

I’ve seen him pat, without disdain,
An orphan goldfish who had a pain,
And he even lights a fire, I’m told,
To warm the air when the weather’s cold.

So what does it matter if people say
That he eats his peas in a vulgar way,
Or opens his mouth, to yawn, so wide
That twenty chickens could roost inside?
Oh, search from Paris to old Japan,
There’s none so courtly as Jonathan!

The Old Wolf has quoted.

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