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Poems for Children

Lisa Barry: Some of the most precious family times for me are when my children are reciting various songs or poems. Last year in first grade, my daughter wanted to audition for a talent show. The only thing we could think of was poetry, since it was a last minute thing. We went to the library and selected a book of children's poetry. Do you know? She had that poem memorized word perfect in less than a half hour. Kids have a knack for memorizing. If we get them interested in poetry early, it will more than likely become a lifetime love.

Today on Gateway To Joy, Elisabeth Elliot reads some poetry for children. I hope it spurs a few creative ideas in you. Here's Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking today to children, to little children, very young children. I hope that there are some old children that will enjoy these little poems by A. A. Milne.

This man, Mr. Milne, wrote this introduction to his little book called WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG. "At one time, but I have changed my mind now, I thought I was going to write a little note at the top of each of these poems in the manner of Mr. William Wordsworth, who liked to tell his readers where he was staying and which one of his friends he was walking with and what he was thinking about when the idea of writing his poem came to him.

You will find some lines about a swan here, if you get as far as that, and I should have explained to you in the note that Christopher Robin, who feeds this swan in the morning, has given him the name of Pooh. This is a very fine name for a swan, because if you call him and he doesn't come (which is a thing swans are good at), then you can pretend that you were just saying, 'Pooh,' to show how little you wanted him.

Well, I should have told you that there are six cows who come down to Pooh's lake in the afternoon to drink. Of course, they say"-you know what cows say, don't you? What do cows say? That's right. They say "moo" as they come.

"So I thought to myself one fine day walking with my friend Christopher Robin, 'moo' rhymes with 'Pooh.' Surely there's a bit of poetry to be got out of that. Well, then I began to think about the swan on his lake. At first I thought how lucky it was that his name was Pooh, and then I didn't think about that anymore, and the poem came quite differently from what I intended. All I can say for it now is that if it hadn't been for Christopher Robin, I shouldn't have written it, which indeed is all I can say for any of the others.

So this is why these verses go about together, because they are all friends of Christopher Robin. And if I left out one because it was not quite like the one before, then I should have to leave out the one before because it was not quite like the next one, which would be disappointing for them.

Then there's another thing. You may wonder sometimes who is supposed to be saying the verses. Is it the author, that strange but uninteresting person, or is it Christopher Robin, or some other boy or girl or nurse or who? If I had followed Mr. Wordsworth's plan, I would have explained this each time. But as it is, you will have to decide for yourselves.

If you're not quite sure, then it probably is Who. I don't know if you're ever met Who, but he is one of those curious children who look four on Monday and eight on Tuesday, and are really 28 on Saturday, and you never know whether it is the day that he can pronounce his R's. He had a great deal to do with these verses. In fact, you almost say that this book is entirely the unaided work of Christopher Robin, Who and Mr. Shepard, who drew the pictures. They have said thank-you politely to each other several times, and now they say it to you for taking them into your house. Thank you so much for asking us. We've come."

Now here's a poem called "Disobedience." One of the things that boys and girls and grown-ups have to learn is obedience. Obedience is doing what you're supposed to do and disobedience is doing what you're not supposed to do. This one begins this way:

"James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree took great care of his mother, though he was only three. James James said to his mother, 'Mother,' he said, said he, 'you must never go down to the end of the town if you don't go down with me.'

James James Morrison's mother put on a golden gown. James James Morrison's mother drove to the end of the town. James James Morrison's mother said to herself, said she, 'I can get right down to the end of the town and be back in time for tea.'"

Now you've caught on, haven't you, that the little boy named James Morrison Weatherby George Dupree did not want his mother going anywhere without taking him, so he was telling his mother, "You must never go down to the end of the town if you don't go down with me."

"King John put up a notice: 'Lost or Stolen or Strayed: James James Morrison's mother seems to have been mislaid. Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of her own accord. She tried to get down to the end of the town. Forty shillings reward.'

James James Morrison Morrison, commonly known as Jim, told his other relations not to go blaming him. James James said to his mother, 'Mother,' he said, said he, 'you must never go down to the end of the town without consulting me.'

James James Morrison's mother hasn't been heard of since. King John said he was sorry, so did the queen and prince. King John, somebody told me, said to a man he knew, 'If people go down to the end of the town, well, what can anyone do?'

Now then, very softly:

James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree took great care of his mother, though he was only three. James James said to his mother, 'Mother,' he said, said he, 'you must never go down to the end of the town if you don't go down with me.'"

Well, that is about disobedience, but it wasn't about a little boy's disobedience, was it? It was about a mother's disobedience. That mother did not obey her little three-year-old boy.

Are mothers supposed to obey their three-year-old children? No. You know that. It's the other way around. If you're three years old or six years old or eight or ten or twelve, fifteen, you're supposed to obey your mother or your father.

Now there may be some very young children, just like a little girl named Mary Jane. She behaved in a very unacceptable manner. This poem is called "Rice Pudding."

"What is the matter with Mary Jane? She's crying with all her might and mane, and she won't eat her dinner, rice pudding again. What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane? I've promised her dolls and a daisy chain and a book about animals, all in vain. What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane? She's perfectly well and she hasn't a pain. But look at her now, she's beginning again. What is the matter with Mary Jane?"

There's a picture here of her kicking her shoe off at the table.

"What is the matter with Mary Jane? I've promised her sweets and a ride in the train, and I've begged her to stop for a bit and explain what is the matter with Mary Jane.

What is the matter with Mary Jane? She's perfectly well. She hasn't a pain. And it's lovely rice pudding for dinner again. What is the matter with Mary Jane?"

I bet you can guess what the matter was with Mary Jane. She didn't like rice pudding, and I don't like it, either.

And here's a poem about the king's breakfast, and I will try to do it as Mr. Milne would have said it.

"The king asked the queen and the queen asked the dairy maid, 'Could we have some butter for the royal slice of bread?' The queen asked the dairy maid. The dairy maid said, 'Certainly. I'll go and tell the cow now before she goes to bed.' The dairy maid, she curtsied and went and told the cow, 'Don't forget the butter for the royal slice of bread.' The cow said sleepily, 'You'd better tell his Majesty that many people nowadays like marmalade instead.'

The dairy maid said, 'Fancy!' and went to her Majesty. She curtsied to the queen and she turned a little red. 'Excuse me, your Majesty, for taking of the liberty, but marmalade is tasty if it's very thickly spread.' The queen said, 'Oh,' and went to his Majesty. 'Talking of the butter for the royal slice of bread, many people think that marmalade is nicer. Would you like to try a little marmalade instead?'

The king said, 'Bother!' Then he said, 'Oh, dear me!' The king sobbed, 'Oh, dearie me,' and went back to bed. 'Nobody even could call me a fussy man. I only want a little bit of butter for my bread.'

The queen said, 'There, there' and went to the dairy maid. The dairy maid said, 'There, there' and went to the shed. The cow said, 'There, there, I didn't really mean it. Here's milk for his porridge and butter for his bread.'

The queen took the butter and brought it to his Majesty. The king said, 'Butter, eh?' and bounced out of bed. 'Nobody,' he said as he kissed her tenderly, 'Nobody,' he said as he slid down the banisters, 'Nobody, my darling, could call me a fussy man. But I do like a little bit of butter to my bread.'"

We can be very fussy at times, can't we? We want to have just what we want to have. We don't want rice pudding and we don't want marmalade instead. We want what we want. There are times when we can't have what we want, aren't there? There are many times in a Christian family where you have to learn to say no to yourself. Learn to be unselfish, which means obedient to your parents, kind to your brothers and sisters, polite to visitors who come. We don't kick our shoes off at the table and scream because we don't like the dessert, and we don't go back to bed in a grump because we didn't get what we liked for breakfast.

Lisa Barry: As we say good-bye for today, I want to give you one more opportunity to get a copy of this weekly series for yourself. It's called AWAY IN A MANGER. The cost is $7. You can send that, along with your request, to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569.

I'd also like to mention that we have just redesigned our Web page for Gateway To Joy and would love for you to drop in via the Internet, if you can. See what you think and then let us know. Our Internet ministry address is gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.

Monday Elisabeth begins a series on preparing for the new year. Get your resolutions assembled and we'll meet back here then for another Gateway To Joy.

 
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