Friday, October 13, 2006

A Little Poetry For You: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It's Poetry Friday and I've got three poems from my childhood running through my head, all from Longfellow and often recited by my mother.

The first, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," reminds me of that certain cadence and clarity that Longfellow's poems so often have.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

The rest of Paul Revere is here.

The second, "Song of Hiawatha," was also one I heard pieces of pretty regularly. Again, the rythm of it stuck with me.

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

The rest of Hiawatha is here. It's a long 'un. The lines I quoted are from Chapter 3.

The third is one I remember from when I was very young. Many many nights, as my mother tucked me in and said good night, I would ask her to say this poem. She liked to tease me with it, because I was a little bit like this "little girl,"

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Now, the poem my mother recited went on at least two more verses. Lines I particularly remember are (loosely quoted from memory):

She stood upon her head in her little trundle bed.

I remember there was kicking of some sort.

Her mother heard the noise, and thought it was the boys
A-playing at a combat in the attic.

And I remember there was some serious spanking going on here.
If you look around the web however, there are many versions, and not a lot of great information about which lines are correct after the first verse. So I will leave it as just what I have posted above.

Here is a photo to show you why the poem seemed so relevant to me as a child. Note the placement of the prominent curl.















But really... if you heard a ruckus in the house, who would you believe, the two obviously squirrely brothers to the left and right of the picture, or the sweet, innocent angel in the middle?

17 comments:

Jen Robinson said...

I love The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. I grew up in Lexington, MA, so I've always been particularly attached to it.

Thanks for the welcome back, and the poetry.

Nancy said...

Hi. You caught me right after I posted the first draft of my Poetry Friday post.

I grew up in Springfield, MA. So you and I are among the few who know what Patriot's Day is.

Erin said...

Hm......I'd probably believe the innocent, sweet-faced little girl, lol!

I love the Paul Revere poem. :)

Anonymous said...

I had/have that exact same curl! And, my dad always read that poem aloud to me just to rub it in :)

Leila said...

I'm another girl with the curl -- my mother LOVED that rhyme.

Thanks for posting it, Nancy!

Christine M said...

My daughter is a girl with a curl - and boy does that poem fit her to a T.

crissachappell said...

My mom used to sing that to my sister. I was the good one... ;)

MotherReader said...

We said it often to my older daughter. She actually had ringlets until she about four. Everyone loved her hair, but half the moms needed to add, "Oh my daughter had such beautiful curls until we cut her hair, and then they never came back.

We did cut her hair and they never came back.

Daisy said...

The only serious spanking I remember was in the poem and not you.

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

One day she went upstairs while her parents, unawares,
In the kitchen down below were at their meals,
And she stood upon her head, on her little trundle bed,
And she then began hurraying with her heels.

Her mother heard the noise, And thought it was the boys,
A-playing at a combat in the attic,
But when she climbed the stair and saw Jemima there,
She took her and did spank her most emphatic!

and spanked her most emphatic!

Nancy said...

Oh no, I never implied that I was spanked. Just remembered the line as "and spanked her most emphatic" but then found it online as "she took and did spank her most emphatic."

Tell me Daisy, was that from memory, or did you find it online?

:)

Daisy said...

Both with some help from TK

Christine M said...

Nancy, you're galloping poem (that you mentioned in my comments) can be found here: http://www.englishverse.com/poems/how_they_brought_the_good_news_from_ghent_to_aix
hope that helps

Christine M said...

That might not help the whole link didn't copy - here's one with a shorter link: http://www.bartelby.net/246/644.html
try.
Anyway the poem is "They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" and it's by Robert Browning"

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nancy said...

laughing... actually, the one I was talking about was called "How I Brought the Good News From Aix to Ghent (Or Vice Versa)" and was a parody of Browning's poem.

It ends... we rattled and rattled and rattled and rattled... and eventually sent a telegram. Pretty silly stuff.

eisha said...

Nice choices, Nancy! I actually live in Cambridge now, and pass by the Longfellow House fairly often. And I now know what Patriot's Day AND Bunker Hill day are: excuses to not go to work.

I always kinda liked Mae West's version of the little girl poem better: "When I'm good, I'm very very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better."

Nancy said...

Oooh, Eisha, I spent a lot of time in Cambridge years ago -- I miss it.

Thanks for the Mae West version too!