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Charlotte Bleh’s Collection of Favourite  Nursery  Rhymes, Poems and Prose Book
First Beginnings


Times and Rhymes for Babies and Other Little Ones

 

Rock-a-bye, Baby,
Thy cradle is green.
Thy Father’s a nobleman,
Thy Mother’s a queen;
And Baby’s a lady,
And wears a gold ring;
And Brother’s a drummer,
And drums for the King. 

***

Bye, Baby Bunting,
Daddy’s gone a-hunting
To find a little rabbit skin,
To wrap our Baby Bunting in. 

***

Hush-a-bye, Baby,
Daddy is near;
Your Mammy’s a lady,
And that’s very clear.

***

Broo, broo, brinkie;
E’e, e’e, winkie;
Mooth, mooth, merry;
Cheek, cheek, cherry;
Chin-chopper, chin-chopper.
Brow, brow, brinkie;
Eye, eye, winkie;
Mouth, mouth, merry;
Cheek, cheek, cherry;
Chin-chopper, chin-chopper.

(A tickling finger-game from your family in Dundee, Scotland) 

***

Chap at the door!     Keek in!
Lift the sneck,     And walk in!
Knock on the door!
Look in!
Lift the latch,
And walk in!

(Another tickling finger-game from Dundee)

***

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men.
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home –
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake. 

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and grey,
He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Sieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again,
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
By the craggy hill-side
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees,
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night. 

Between the night and morrow;
They thought that she was fast sleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves
Watching till she wake. 

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men.
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!
William Allingham

(A favourite poem of my mother, “Old Granny from Scotland”)

***

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe –
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea:
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish.”
“Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. 

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam --
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought it was a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. 

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock on the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three –
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Eugene Field

(This is the lullaby poem that Old Granny from Scotland, taught me to love.)

***

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi’ muckle faught and din.
“Oh, try and sleep, ye waukrife rogues,
Yer faither’s comin’ in.”
They niver heed a word I speak,
I try tae gi’e a froon,
But aye I hap’ them up an’ cry,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!”

Wee Jamie wi’ the curly heid,
He aye sleeps next the wa’,
Bangs up and cries, “I want a piece!”
The rascal starts them a’.
I rin and fetch them pieces, drinks,
They stop a wee the soun’,
Then draw the blankets up an’ cry,
“Noo, weanies, cuddle doon.” 

But ere five minutes gang, wee Rab
Cries out frae neath the claes,
“Mither, mak’ Tam gi’e ower at aince,
He kittlin’ wi’ his taes.”
The mischief in that Tam for tricks,
He’d bather half the toon,
But aye I hap’ them up an’ cry,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!"

At length they hear their faither’s fit
An’ as he steeks the door,
They turn their faces tae the wa’
An’ Tam pretends tae snore.
“Ha’e a’ the weans been gude?” he asks,
As he pits aff his shoon.
“The bairnies, John, are in their beds
An’ lang since cuddled doon!”

An’ just afore we bed oorsel’s
We look at oor wee lambs,
Tam has his airm roun’ wee Rab’s neck,
An’ Rab his airm roun’ Tam’s.
I lift wee Jamie up the bed
An’ as I straik each croon,
I whisper till my heart fills up,
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!” 

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi’ mirth that’s dear tae me.
But soon the big warl’s cark an’ care
Will quieten doon their glee.
Yet come what will to ilka ane,
May He who rules aboon,
Aye whisper, though their pows be bald:
“Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!”

Alexander Anderson

(Old Granny from Scotland loved this poem because it reminded her of neighbour’s across the street from her childhood home in Hill Street who had children who sounded just like this.) 

***

Wull I hae tae speak again
To thae weans o’ mine?
Echt o’ clock an’ weel I ken
The Schule gangs in at nine.
Little hauds me but tae gang
An’ fetch the muckle whup,
Oh, ye sleepy-heidit rogues
Wull ye wauken up?

Never mither had sic a faucht,
No’ a meenit’s ease;
Clean Tam as ye like at nicht
His breeks are through his knees.
Thread is nae for him at a;
It niver hauds the grup;
Maun I speak again, ye rogues?
Wull ye wauken up?

Tam, the very last tae bed,
He winna rise ava’;
Last tae get his books an’ slate
Last tae rin away’.
Sic a loon for tricks an’ fun,
Heeds na’ what I say:
Rab and Jamie – be they plagues,
Wull they sleep a’ day?

Here they come, the three at aince,
Looking gleg an’ fell,
Hoo they ken their bits o’ claes
Beats me fair tae tell.
Wash your wee bit faces clean,
An’ here’s your bite an’ sup,
Never wis mair wise-like bairns,
Noo they’re wauken up.

There the three are aff at last,
I watch them frae the door;
That Tam he’s at his tricks again,
I count them by the score.
He put his foot afore wee Rab
An coupit Jamie doon - 
Could I but lay my haun's on him,
I'd mak' him claw his croon.

Noo tae get my work on haun'
I'll ha’e a busy day,
But losh! The hoose is unco quate
Since they are a' away.
A dizen times I'll look the clock
Whan it comes roon till three,
For cuddlin' doon or waukenin' up
They're dear, dear bairns tae me.

Alexander Anderson

(The partner to “Cuddle Doon that my mother long tried to find)

***

A diddlum, a diddlum, a diddlum, a do;
A diddlum, a diddlum, a diddlum, a do.
A diddlum, a diddlum, a diddlum, a do –
Hi, bonnie bairnie, I love you!

(I was dandled to this tune on my Granny’s knee, and safely bounced high on the last line – and have dandled and bounced all my grandchildren likewise)

***

Allie, Ballie, Ballie, Ballie Bee,
Sittin’ on your mammy’s knee,
Greetin’ for a wee bawbee
(Crying for a penny or two)
Tae buy some Coulter’s candy.

Allie, Ballie, Ballie, Ballie Bee,
When you grow up you’ll go to sea,
Makin’ penies for your Daddy and me,
Tae buy mair Coulter’s candy. 

Mammy gi’e me ma thrifty doon
Here’s auld Coulter comin’ roon’
Wi’ a basket on his croon
Sellin’ Coulter’s candy. 

Little Elsies’ greetin’ tae
Sae whit can puir Mammy dae
But gi’e them a bawbee atween them twae
Tae buy mair Coulter’s candy. 

Puir wee Johnny’s lookin’ affa thin,
A rickle o’ banes covered o’er wi’ skin,
Noo he’s getting’ a double chin
Wi’ sookin’ Coulter’s candy.

(I would especially croon this to Alys about her brother and sisters as I rocked her on my shoulder after nursing her when she was a baby.)

***

You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.
Robert Louis Stevenson
A Child’s Garden of Verses
 

***

Oh, the thumb-sucker’s thumb
May look wrinkled and wet
And withered, and white as the snow,
But the taste of a thumb
Is the sweetest taste yet

(As only we thumb-suckers know).

Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends


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