Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne

Image result for now we are sixPublished in 1927 this is the third children’s book by Milne, published after the success of Winnie the Pooh. Now We Are Six contains thirty five verses, with more E. H. Shepard illustrations to accompany them.

The poems have inspired many others; around 1930 Mimi Crawford recorded several poems with music by Harold Fraser-Simson, the title is played upon with the 2003 book Now We Are Sixty, and an anthology by Neil Gaiman called Now We Are Sick. The short “A Poem Is…” was also inspired by one of Milne’s poems entitled “Us Two”.

Illustrations of Winnie the Pooh accompany 11 of the poems, and he is a much stronger focus than he was in the earlier poetry book.

Both this book plus When We Were Very Young were popular during the 1920s and 1930s, and popularity surged again after Milne’s death. Christopher Robin even recorded some of the poems at the suggestion of his mother; this however resulted in incredible bullying for Christopher Robin at school.

Below is a full list of the poems included in this book. You can read these poems and more here.

King John’s Christmas
Cherry Stones
The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak
Buttercup Days
The Charcoal-Burner
Us Two
The Old Sailor
The Engineer
Journey’s End
Furry Bear
The Emperor’s Rhyme
Come Out with Me
Down by the Pond
The Little Black Hen
The Friend
The Good Little Girl
A Thought
King Hilary and The Beggarman
Swing Song
Twice Times
The Morning Walk
Cradle Song
Waiting at The Window
Pinkle Purr
Wind on the Hill
In The Dark
The End

When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne

While we are here celebrating the 90th year of Winnie the Pooh, it has to be said that it wasn’t Milne’s first book for children. Two years prior he published a book of poems titled, When We Were Very Young. This is the book where an unnamed Pooh Bear appears and features Christopher Robin when he was a small child.

Published by E. P. Dutton the book of poems is as beloved today as it was then. While it is not as popular as Milne’s stories, the poems are still a delightful read filled with innocence and whimsy.

The little book contains 44 poems, written by Milne, and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. Milne asks the reader to imagine who the narrator is and to wonder if perhaps it is Christopher Robin.

Harold Fraser-Simson, the English composer, set a few of Milne’s poems to music. Fraser-Simson set numerous children’s poems to music but is best known for his WWl hit, The Maid of the Mountain.

Below is a complete list of the poems in the book, the most famous being Teddy Bear and Vespers. You can read them all here.

Corner of the Street
Buckingham Palace
The Christening
Puppy and I
Twinkle Toes
The Four Friends
Lines and Squares
Nursery Chairs
Market Square
Water Lilies
Spring Morning
The Island
The Three Foxes
Jonathan Jo
At the Zoo
Rice Pudding
The Wrong House
The King’s Breakfast
At Home
Summer Afternoon
The Dormouse and the Doctor
Shoes and Stockings
Sand Between the Toes
Knights and Ladies
Little Bo Peep and Little Boy Blue
The Mirror
Halfway Down
The Invaders
Before Tea
Teddy Bear
Bad Sir Brian Botany
In the Fashion
The Alchemist
Growing Up
If I Were King

Image result for when we were very young

World Poetry Day with Jack Prelutsky and Lewis Carroll

Today is World Poetry Day and I wasn’t going to post something, but I’ve been inspired by Allvce over at What I Like…& Why You Should Too who posted her favourite Emily Dickinson poem on her Facebook page so I’ve decided to share with you two of my favourite poems. I don’t read a lot of poetry so I am sure there are much grander poems out there, but these are the ones I love.

The first is Today is Very Boring by Jack Prelutsky. I first heard this poem in a 1997 episode of Arthur. In the episode called “I’m A Poet“, Fern challenges everyone to enter a poetry contest judged by poet Jack Prelutsky, and anyone who doesn’t win has to join the Poetry Club for a whole year. Being 9 I hadn’t heard of Jack Prelutsky, being 9 I couldn’t pronounce Jack Prelutsky, but I loved his poem. I can’t find the full episode but here is the clip of him reading the poem on Arthur. Arthur often has famous people on the show, Neil Gaiman was there (who could forget the grand line “Neil Gaiman what are you doing in my falafel), as well Art Garfunkel and many others (check out the buzzfeed list), but I always remembered this poem from Prelutsky, even if I have never looked up any more of his work since, may need to change that.

Today is very boring.

it’s a very boring day,
there is nothing to much to look at,
there is nothing much to say,
there’s a peacock on my sneakers,
there’s a penguin on my head,
there’s a dormouse on my doorstep,
I am going back to bed.

 Today is very boring,
it is boring through and through,
there is absolutely nothing
that I think I want to do,
I see giants riding rhinos,
and an ogre with a sword,
there’s a dragon blowing smoke rings,
I am positively bored.

 Today is very boring,
I can hardly help but yawn,
there’s a flying saucer landing
in the middle of my lawn,
a volcano just erupted
less than half a mile away,
and I think I felt an earthquake,
it’s a very boring day.

My favourite favourite poem has to be The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll. I mentioned in my Through the Looking Glass review that I fell in love with this through the Harriet the Spy movie as a kid and I have only grown to love it more and more.

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright–
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done–
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead–
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head–
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat–
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more–
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf–
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

So they’re my favourite poems, enjoy World Poetry Day and read something spectacular!

Happy Birthday Banjo Paterson!

Today is the 150th birthday of the Australian poet Banjo Paterson and who would I be if I didn’t acknowledge some of the great poetry he wrote and the impact he’s had on our culture.


Google Doodle

Banjo Paterson was born Andrew Barton Paterson in 1864 and lived at the property “Narrambla” which is out near Orange, NSW. He moved around a lot later on but when he married his wife Alice Emily Walker, they lived at Woollahra, NSW with his two children. Paterson’s parents were Scottish immigrant Andrew Bogle Paterson and Australian Rose Isabella Barton. Also, fun fact, Paterson’s mother was related to the future first prime minister of Australia, Edmund Barton. So that’s cool.

Through his life Paterson was a poet, a lawyer, a journalist, a soldier, a jockey, as well as a farmer, but his poems are what he is mainly remembered for. I think there are a few of Paterson’s poems that we all know because they have infiltrated society and culture more than others. I’m fairly sure we all know about The Man from Snowy River, or at least have heard it being referenced. Written in 1890 The Man from Snowy River was first published in The Bulletin on 26 April and has since been made into a successful movie and a TV show. The poem tells the story of a pursuit to recapture the colt of a prizewinning racehorse that has run off into the mountain ranges and is living with brumbies. The poem recounts the attempt to recapture the colt and the bravery of the hero Clancy who risks the terrible decent of the impassable slope to chase after the horses. This was not Paterson’s first poem, however, Clancy of the Overflow was a shorter poem published the previous year, but some characters reappear in The Man from Snowy River.

I vaguely recall seeing The Man from Snowy River film with my sister when I was young but it was never a favourite of mine, and I can’t say I knew of any others of his poems that well. You get taught about Banjo Patterson in primary school and you learn about of a few poems, but there are some that stay with you and some don’t. Though a few years ago now, back in 2000, the Royal Easter Show did an excellent Man from Snowy River Spectacular which broadened my love of Paterson’s poems. It was an excellent show, the arena was set up to re-enact the story and the riders and the horses put on an epic display while the poem was being narrated alongside, it was really amazing.

But before any of that, Waltzing Matilda was the one that stayed with me more than any other. That is one I think that everyone gets to know from a young age. Waltzing Matilda is a poem that is set to music that is revered by a lot of people, but if you look at the narrative it is about a man who steals a sheep and to escape being captured commits suicide in a billabong. There is something wonderfully morbid in that this is a poem we cherish. People even wanted to make it our national anthem at one point. I can’t say when we win at the Olympics or before footy games, or standing at school assemblies I would think we want that being sung, but some do. I’m not saying it isn’t an awesome poem or song, it is, but I just can’t see it as a national anthem. Because it is a song though, Waltzing Matilda has been covered by a lot of people, being originally set to music makes it more accessible I suppose than the poetry and the ballads.

What I found interesting was that Paterson did not live out in the bush while he was writing. A lot of works about rural Australia are romanticised and Paterson was no different. He was living in the city as a lawyer while he was writing about these mountain ranges and billabongs. I think though poetry needs a bit of romanticising, even if you lived in the rural areas surely in poetry you are not going to be discussing the ins and outs of farming troubles and the fact your cattle are or aren’t breeding. Instead you write about the sun setting over the hills, and the cockatoos screeching in the evening, you write about the continuing plains of barren lands and the river the winds through the ancient cliffs. No one needs to hear about the boring parts of the rural areas, romanticising is what poetry is all about.

Paterson did a lot more than just write poetry, he helped with the war effort not only as a war correspondent in the Second Boar War but as an ambulance driver in WW1 and did three voyages with horses to Africa, China, and Egypt resulting in being repatriated to Australia as a Major. He is remembered for his poetry of course more than his war effort or any of his other jobs, and after he returned home he continued writing, releasing short stories, verse, and essays but he also continued to contribute to various journalism publications.

Banjo Patterson is the guy on our $10 note for those who don’t know, and over his lifetime he wrote hundred of works which you can find a list of on Project Gutenberg, and he was even commemorated on a stamp in 1981. I’m sure there are people all over Australia who have their favourite Banjo Patterson poem, some know one, some know all, and there are always new people discovering him each day.

Paterson died in 1941 from a heart attack but he continues to live on in Australian culture and through his poetry and other works that have continued to inspire and entertain children and adults alike to this day. Happy 150th birthday, Banjo!

Learn more about Banjo Paterson

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’


 Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

This is one of my favourite Edward Lear works, and one of my favourite poems. What I did not realise was that he actually had another poem called The Children of the Owl and the Pussycat, it is interesting, and told from the perspective of the children. It is unfinished so it is interesting to see how it would have ended up, but it was published posthumously, you can read it here.

Edward Lear’s 201st birthday is today, and as a writer he is known mostly for his nonsense poems and stories and for popularising the limerick. His vast collections of The Old Man from Peru, The Young Lady of Leeds, and all the other people who were absurd and outrageous are long remembered. It is the time to also note that Edward Lear is not responsible for The Man from Nantucket, I just want to put that out in the world. Lear’s Old Men and Women were a lot less ribald and vulgar.

Lear was born in 1812 in England and was the youngest of twenty one children. He was a strange man, apparently he was known to introduce himself with a long pseudonym. It seems the idea came from a game in Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos by R. Stennett, which itself is strange. It seems players had to read the snippet for each letter of the alphabet as fast as they could without making a mistake. If you are intrigued there is more information here, but it seems Lear took a fancy to this and introduced himself as “Mr Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph” or “Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps”. Wouldn’t we all want to do that if we could?

But aside from that strangeness he made his living as an artist before moving into the world of wit, word-play, and fantasy in his books of nonsense. He was an avid traveller across the globe, partially to maintain good health, but also to find fresh material. Over the years he wrote many books of nonsense prose and poetry, but he was also an artist and many of his books had illustrations of animals and plants, and there are also music and songs in his collection of works too. The first Book of Nonsense was published in 1846 and was added to with additional volumes. It was originally designed to please the children of an artistic patron but soon became Lear’s calling.

In honour of his birthday I compiled a limerick of my own, if you were on Twitter you would have noticed my attempt to share some of his own works, but it seems that 140 characters does not assist in creating poetry, even a little limerick. I feel a Haiku may have just fit but what can we do, the man wrote limericks. But I managed to get mine in and I will share by creativity here with you. Here is my limerick to honour the man who gave us the wonderful Owl and his adoring Pussycat, and when you are feeling low, just take some time, read a limerick or three and it will do you the world of good.

There once was a blogger in Oz,

Who wrote a limerick because,

It was Eddie Lear’s day, and she wanted to say,

Happy birthday with one of his songs.