Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Mother Taught Me to Love Poetry

When I was small, I loved poetry and nursery rhymes. I think I sought it out because my mother read them to me. It became a sort of shared, private thing between us. Once, she was going shopping, and she asked me what I wanted her to bring me. I immediately answered, "A book of po-try (poetry)." She found a large, rich volume with many kinds of rhymes and poems and she read them to me often. Over time some of them became standards for my bedtime reading.  Many of the shorter ones were committed to memory.

When I had children, I continued the custom. Robert Louis Stephenson was a favorite and some of the rhymes that I had loved came back for the second time. Winnie the Pooh was a favorite of mine and theirs. I still love the rollicking joy of the Pokey Little Puppy. I was never able to fine  one of the poems I loved when I was little to share with them even though I looked through all the children's collections I could find. I remembered it as "The Sheep Song," but that was incorrect.

 The Internet is a wonderful resource.  With a little research I found "The Sleepy Song" and it helped me call back the blessing of my mother's voice, the comfort of warmth and peace at bedtime, and the love of those who laughed and loved me when I was four. You will find it reprinted below.

Read to your children. It may be a blessing to them all their lives.

The Sleepy Song   
by   Josephine Daskam

As soon as the fire bums red and low
And the house upstairs is still
She sings me a queer little sleepy song
Of sheep that go over the hill.

The good little sheep run quick and soft
Their colors are gray and white
They follow their leader nose to tail,
 For they must be home by night.

 And one slips over and one comes next
 And one runs after behind
The gray one's nose at the white one's tail
The top of the hill they find.

And when they get to the top of the hill
They quietly slip away
But one runs over and one comes next
Their colors are white and gray.

And over they go and over they go
And over the top of the hill,
The good little sheep run quick and soft,
And the house upstairs is still.

 And one slips over and one comes next,
The good little gray little sheep.
I watch how the fire burns red and low,
 And she says that I fall asleep.

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