The Children’s Hour

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1820) was a prolific poet who became famous during his lifetime, unlike many other poets.  One of his poems, “The Day Is Done,” I memorized twenty years back and still recite in my mind at night when I can’t fall asleep. I find poetry much more relaxing than counting sheep.

In his own autobiographical book, Clive Cussler relates an incident from Longfellow’s life. Delayed in New York by his editor, the poet rushed to to dock to catch the ship that would take him home. By the time he got to the pier, however, the boat was pulling away from the dock and a gap of several feet was between Longfellow and the deck of the ship. He almost could have jumped it, but didn’t.

That night the ship went down. (In his book Cussler explains what caused the disaster.) The next morning newspapers along the Eastern Seaboard carried the tragic story and when Longfellow’s family read it, they were grief-stricken. Henry himself was shocked and immediately sent his family a telegram to inform them he’d missed that fateful ride.

In my National Poetry Month verse for today, the poet shows in a unique way how he would always treasure his children.

The Children’s Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Clean-Up Time

My contribution today to National Poetry Month, or NaPoWiMo.
Happy the family that can work together to make their home more attractive!

Clean-up Time

When it’s clean-up week in springtime
and the winter’s past and gone;
when the balmy air of evening
signals summer’s coming on;
it is then I love to wander
when my day’s work is complete
through our friendly little village
greeting those I chance to meet.

There are things that strike my fancy
as I move along the way.
The impressions gained in childhood
are still holding good today;
for I love to see the parents
with the children large and small
clearing rubbish that has gathered
’round their home since previous fall.

I love to watch the children
and to hear them run and shout,
gathering sticks and bits of paper
that the wind has blown about.
And the father, too, is busy;
I can here him sing and chant
as he’s spading up the garden
for the seed they’re going to plant.

But there’s one thing holds attraction,
I don’t need to tell you what:
it’s the smudge that’s gently burning
in the corner of the lot
as the children pile fresh armfuls
of the rubbish which they bring.
It makes their home more cheery
after clean-up time in spring.

Written by a fellow Saskatchewan poet, Roy Lobb, born around 1893
Taken from his book PLAIN FOLKS, the second edition of which was published 1961 by Modern Press, Saskatoon, SK.

Woe in the Green Woods

Since this is National Poetry Month, I dared to hop over to Judy D-B’s blog and issue her a challenge — based on her own suggestion, mind you — to write a poem using at least three of the following words:
chlorophyll, fettuccine, rosemary, poison ivy, parakeet, and Greenland.

I knew she wouldn’t be able to resist — and she hasn’t. You can read her verse here: Green Cuisine. Now I invite any other readers to wander the green woods with us and write a poem using at least three of those words. You can give the title and leave a link to your poem in the comments below.

Once I had these words in front of my eyes, my own thoughts started to whirl in a kaleidoscope of green chips and I composed a poem as well. Unlike Judy, I didn’t succeed in using all the words.

One day a poison ivy patch
attracted little sister;
before too long she started to scratch
and itch turned into blister.

Our mom was crushing rosemary
planning a meatloaf lunch
with fettuccine on the side,
when in trooped our sad bunch.

Mom boiled up some chamomile
to make a soothing potion,
sent brother to Greenland’s drug store
for a jug of calamine lotion.

And all the while my sister wailed
our parakeet kept repeating,
Our grandma’s, “Count your blessings now.
The joys of life are fleeting.”

Hello December

In honour of the winter season upon us I thought I should change my header image. Scrolling through Pixabay I found this girl and knew she’d be perfect for my blog.

We’ve been having postcard-type winter scenes these days, as the weather has blessed us with almost a week of fog and barely a breath of wind. The poplar and other trees surrounding our year — and every yard— have been transformed into “white pine.” We have a single strand of black chain-link “fence” encircling our little lawn in front of the church building, and I noticed last night that the posts have grown white moustaches at the top. Looks cute!

We’ve been having a series of revival meetings at church this week, starting last Friday evening, so that has kept us busy every evening. Also, I’ve been working on two songs for the school children. The one I’ve written the words for, using the tune, “Sing A Song of Sixpence.” I’ve called it “The Pizza Order.” Children are asking “Sis” to bring home pizza, first one, then two — listing all the toppings they want. Then they decide to invite their cousins “for a pizza jamboree” and want a third pizza. Finally Mom says, “Pizza costs too much… Just bring home buns and weiners and we’ll do a barbecue.” And everybody groans.

The second, which I’m working on now, started with the tune to an old English Christmas folk-song, “The Boar’s Head Carol.” Do any of you know this one? I’ve paired it with the “Canadian Camping Song”, an 1880s poem by James Edgar. It’s taking me some time and effort to adjust the music to fit the words of the verse — and to suit my taste in melody ups and downs. 😉

I cooked supper at the Villa last night and am on for dinner today, then in the afternoon we’re to go to the Christmas supper put on by the Veterinary Clinic staff. Bob’s part-time bookkeeper there. There’s church this evening and I’m cooking dinner at the Villa tomorrow. So this weekend is a busy time for us.

I wonder how many of you others have already started with Christmas preparations and events? I admire folks who get their preparations done ahead of time; I’m such a last-minute type.

I’ll end with this humorous little incident I read years back. I think you’ll get a chuckle.

Baby’s Arrival Call

Three-year-old Molly was spending a few days at Grandma’s house and had invited her cousin Jill over for a tea party one afternoon. As they were setting the table, Molly told Jill, “My Mommy’s gone to the hospital to get a baby. But I don’t know how she knew it would be ready to go.”

Jill, a year older and wiser, explained the process. “Oh, that’s easy. When the baby feels like coming it just phones your mom and says ‘Come and get me’.”

Differing Opinions

Fandango’s challenge word this morning is CONTRAST

I offer this poem as my response:

THE DOCTOR
by Edgar Guest

I don’t see why Pa likes him so,
and seems so glad to have him come;
he jabs my ribs and wants to know
if here and there it’s hurting some.

He holds my wrist, ‘cause there are things
in there which always jump and jerk;
then, with a telephone he brings,
he listens to my breather work.

He taps my back and pinches me,
then hangs a mirror on his head
and looks into my throat to see
what makes it hurt and if it’s red.

Then on his knee he starts to write
and says to Mother, with a smile:
“This ought to fix him up all right.
We’ll cure him in a little while.”

I don’t see why Pa likes him so.
Whenever I don’t want to play
he says, “The boy is sick, I know!
Let’s get the doctor right away.”

And when he comes, Pa shakes his hand,
and hustles him upstairs to me,
and seems contented just to stand
inside the room where he can see.

Then Pa says every time he goes,
“That’s money I am glad to pay;
it’s worth it, when a fellow knows
his pal will soon be up to play.”

But maybe if my Pa were me,
and had to take his pills and all,
he wouldn’t be so glad to see
the doctor come to make a call.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

First Snow: Memories

Here’s my response to the Ragtag prompt for today: ZIP

FIRST SNOW

First snow flakes – angel-feather
innocence falling from heaven –
soften me in their gentleness,
the sincerity of their efforts to erase
the blemishes of my imperfect world.

My mind drifts back to childhood
memories of those first infatuations
with cold and white; those winters I’d fall
knee-deep in the wonder
of loving it all. How joyfully
I lifted my hands to catch
the dazzle of diamond dust.

The old torch glows again today,
that first-kiss affection for a childhood
sweetheart never quite abandoned,
as I watch the flakes drift down.
On impulse I zip up my winter coat,
don mitts and boots and go
out to play in the snow.