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Charlotte Bleh’s Collection of Favourite  Nursery  Rhymes, Poems and Prose Book
Home & Family


 Times and Rhymes for Home and Family

Hickory, dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
And down he ran,
Hickory, dickory dock.

***
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up got Jack and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

***
How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes and back again,
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candle-light.

***
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown;
Knocking at the windows,
Peering through the locks:
“Are all the children in their beds?
It’s past eight o’ clock.”

(Now, tell me if this is the verse you’d teach your children,
or wouldn’t you rather teach them something better, something Scottish,
like the REAL verses about this braw wee lad --)

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toon,
Upstairs and doonstairs in his nichtgoon.
Chappin’ at the windaes,
Peerin’ through the locks –
“Are a’ the bairnies in their beds?
It’s past eight o’clock!”

“Hey, Willie Winkie, are ye comin’ ben?
The cat’s singin’ grey thrums to the sleepin’ hen.
The dug’s spelder’d on the flair, and disna’ gi’e a cheep,
But here’s a waukrife laddie that winna fa’ asleep!”

Onything but sleep, you rogue? Glow’ring like the mune.
Rattlin’ in an airn jug wi’ an airn spune,
Rumblin’, tumblin’, roond aboot, crawin’ like a cock,
Skirlin’ like a kenna-what, wauk’nin’ sleepin’ fowk.

“Hey Willie Winkie – the wean’s in a creel!
Wambling aff a bodie’s knee like a verra eel.
Ruggin’ at the cat’s lug, and rav’lin a’ her thrums.
Hey, Willie Winkie!” – see, now, there he comes!

Wearit is the mither that has a stoorie wean,
A wee stumpie stoussie, that canna rin his lane,
That has a battle aye wi’ sleep before he’ll close an e’e,
But ae kiss frae aff his rosy lips gi’es strength anew tae me.

(This is the most famous of all the Scottish nursery rhymes –
and we used it to get the children off to bed. This is also the rhyme I used
to teach my children their first Scottish accented words – which they did very well:
along with “It’s a braw, bricht, muinlicht nicht the nicht!)

***
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

(I learned this from my Granny, your Great Grandmother, Charlotte Beat McIntosh.)

***
Bessie Bell and Mary Gray
They were twa bonny lassies;
They built their house upon the lea,
And covered it with rashies.

Bessie kept the garden gate,
And Mary kept the pantry;
Bessie always had to wait,
While Mary lived in plenty.

(This is the truncated English version of
this next Scottish poem about two sisters
from Ayrshire who died of the plague.)

Oh, Bessie Bell and Mary Grey
They were twa bonnie lassies;
They biggit their bower by yon burnside
And thackit it o'er wi' rashies, O.

They thackit it o'er wi' rashies green;
They thackit it o'er wi' heather,
But the plague cam frae the Borrow side
And buried them baith thegither.

Bessie kept the garden gate
And Mary kept the pantry;
Bessie often had to wait
While Mary lived in pleanty.

They would not wear the shoes o' red
Nor yet the shoes o' yellow, O,
But they wad wear the shoes o' green
Tae run through the streets o' Yarrow.

They thocht to lye in Methven Kirkyard
Amang their noble kin
But they maun lye in Stronach Haugh
Tae biek forenent the sin.

***
Lady Bird, Lady Bird,
Fly away home!
Your house is on fire,
And your children are gone!
All except one,
And her name is Nan,
And she has crept under the warming pan!

***
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
Who had so many children she didn’t know what to do –
(Johnny, Tina, Stephanie, Elisabeth, Alys, Xochitl and Adriana, too)
So she gave them some soup without any bread,
And kissed them all soundly, and sent them to bed.

(Spanking them seems a little harsh these days, don’t you think?)

***
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Johnny’s so long at the fair.

He promised he’d buy me a fairing should please me,
And then for a kiss, oh, he vowed he would tease me.
He promised he’d bring me a bunch of blue ribbons
To tie up my bonny brown hair.

He promised he’d bring me a basket of posies.
A garland of lilies, a garland of roses –
A little straw hat to set off the blue ribbons
That tie up my bonnie brown hair.

***
There was an old woman of Surrey (Avenue)
Who was morn, noon, and night
In a hurry;
Called her husband a fool, (I certainly never did that!)
Drove her children to school, (Chaparral, Desert Foothills and Greenway)
The worrying old woman of Surrey.

***
Fiddle-de-dee! Fiddle-de-dee!
The cat has married the bumble-bee!
They went to the Church, and married was he,
The fly has married the bumble-bee!

***
This is the house that Jack built.
This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog
That worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn that milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog
That worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

There was an old woman
Who lived under the hill,
And if she’s not gone
She’s living there still:
Baked apples she sold,
And cranberry pies,
And she’s the old woman
That never told lies.

***
When I was a little boy I lived by myself.
And all the bread and cheese I got I laid upon a shelf;
The rats and the mice they made such strife,
I had to go to London-town to buy me a wife.
The streets were so broad and the lanes were so narrow,
I was forced to bring my wife home in a wheelbarrow.
The wheelbarrow broke and my wife had a fall,
Farewell, wheelbarrow – little wife and all.

***
An apple a day
Keeps the doctor away.
Apple in the morning,
Doctor’s warning.
Roast apple at night,
Starves the doctor outright.
Eat an apple going to bed,
Knock the doctor on his head.


***
Oh, where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Oh, where have you been, Charming Billy?
I have been to seek a wife,
She’s the joy of my life –
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie
Quick as the cat can wink its eye.
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

How old is she now, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
How old is she now, Charming Billy?
Four time six and eight times seven,
Forty-nine and then eleven,
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.
“Soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me,
With your trumpet, fife and drum?”
“Oh, no, sweet maid, I cannot marry, you
For I have no hat to put on.”

So up she went to her grandfather’s chest,
And she got him a hat of the very, very best,
And the soldier put it on!

“Soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me,
With your trumpet, fife and drum?”
“Oh, no, sweet maid, I cannot marry you,
For I have no coat to put on.”

So up she went to her grandfather’s chest,
And she got him a coat of the very, very best,
And the soldier put it on!

“Soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me,
With your trumpet, fife and drum?”
”Oh, no sweet maid, I cannot marry you,
For I have no boots to put on.”

So up she went to her grandfather’s chest,
And she got him a pair of the very, very best,
And the soldier put them on!

“Soldier, Soldier, won’t you marry me,
With your trumpet, fife and drum?”
”Oh, no, sweet maid, I cannot marry you,
For I have a wife of my own.”

***

O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Esk river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of bave Lochinvar.

So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men and kinsmen, and brothers, and all:
The spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

“I long woo’d your daughter, my suite you denied;
Love swells like the Solway but ebbs like its tide -
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

The bride kissed the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaffed off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She looked down to blush, and she looked up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whispered, “’Twere better by far,
To have matched our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reached the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! We are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur:
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?
Sir Walter Scott

(Another competition piece)

***
Auch, a charmin’ young colleen
Was Kitty O’Toole,
The lily of swate Tipperary,
Wid a voice like a thrush
And wid cheeks like a rose
An’ a figure as neat as a fairy.
I saw her one night,
Sure she looked like a quane,
In the glory of swate one and twenty.
As she sat wi’ McGinty’s big arm round her waist,
Auch, but I envied McGinty.

An’ soon after that,
In the swate summer time,
The boys and the girls were invited
By Mickey O’ Toole, o’ the cabin beyant,
To see Kate and McGinty united.
An’ when in the church they were made into wan,
An’ the priest gave them blessings in plenty,
An’ Kitty looked swater than every before,
Auch, but I envied McGinty.

But the time it did pass,
And Mcginty he died.
Sure my heart was all broke up with pity
To see her so mournful, lonely and sad,
That I went and got married to Kitty.
And now when I look where McGinty is laid
Wid a stone o’er his head, cauld and flinty,
As he lies there so peaceful, quiet and still,
Auch, but I envy McGinty.

(A piece I learned at Miss Angus’ Dundee School of Music
classes to practice dialect – very popular when I was on the
Church and old folks clubs concert circuit, especially
with the gentlemen!)

***

Of all the girls that are so smart
There’s none like pretty Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

There’s ne’er a lady in the land
That’s half so sweet as Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

Her father he makes cabbage-nets,
And thro’ the street does cry ‘em;
Her mother she sells laces long
To such as please to buy ’em;

But sure such folks could ne’er beget
So sweet a girl as Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

Of all the days that’s in the week
I dearly love but one day,
And that’s the day that comes betwixt
A Saturday and Monday,

For them I’m dressed in all my best
To walk abroad with Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

My master carries me to church,
And often am I blamed
Because I leave him in the lurch
As soon as text is named;

I leave the church in sermon time
And slink away to Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

When Christmas comes about again
O, then I shall have money;
I’ll hoard it up, and box and all,
I’ll give it to my honey;

And would it were ten thousand pounds,
I’d give it all to Sally;
She is the darling of my heart,
And she lives in our alley.

My master and the neighbours all
Make game of me and Sally,
And, but for her, I’d better be
A slave, and row a galley;

But when my seven long years are out,
Oh, then I’ll marry Sally;
O, then we’ll wed, and then we’ll bed,
But not in our alley.
Henry Carey

***
Daisy, Daisy.
Give me your answer, do.
I’m half crazy over the love of you:
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet
Upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!

(This is for Stephanie’s little black pug puppy, Daisy)

***
Daddy fixed the breakfast.
He made us each a waffle.
It looked like gravel pudding.
It tasted something awful.

“Ha, ha,” he said, “’I’ll try again.
This time I’ll get it right.”
But what I got was in between
Bituminous and anthracite.

“A little too well done? Oh, well,
I’ll have to start all over.”
That time what landed on my plate
Looked like a manhole cover.

I tried to cut it with a fork:
The fork gave off a spark.
I tried a knife and twisted it
Into a question mark.

I tried it with a hack-saw.
I tried it with a torch.
It didn’t even make a dent.
It didn’t even scorch.

The next time Dad gets breakfast
When Mommy’s sleeping late,
I think I’ll skip the waffles.
I’d sooner eat the plate!
John Ciardi

(A poem Tina and I performed at a Relief Society dinner in Paradise, Ca.)

***
“A genune anteater,”
The pet man told my dad.
Turned out, it was an aunt eater,
And now my uncle’s mad!
Shel Silverstein
A Light in the Attic

***
I got some jam on her new couch,
But Grandma doesn’t care.
I lost my toothbrush, dropped a glass,
My old jeans have a tear.
I tipped the cat dish on the floor,
My feet are always bare,
The way I look is a disgrace,
But Grandma doesn’t care.
She’s very busy, then she sees
The tangles in my hair.
She gets a brush, I make a fuss,
But Grandma doesn’t care.
When I am grown, and on my own,
When visits become rare,
I won’t forget the love I’d get
When Grandma didn’t care.

Judith Bond
(A verse on a musical box book Stephanie
gave me one Mother’s Day)

***
Most often when we think of Mom,
We think of what she’s given;
The softness of a loving touch,
A gentle guide for living;
A nightly tip-toe in a room,
An understanding look;
But sometimes when I think of Mom
I think of what she took.
She took a child and taught it how
To live this life with pride.
She took those kindergarten tears,
And kept them all inside.
She took the hands that longed to hold
Her child and not let go,
Used them to push her child along
The way, to thrive and grow.
Took time to do some other things
Like sew, and clean and cook,
And never thought to ask for thanks
For all the things she took.
Thanks, Mom.

Judith Bond
(Another verse on a musical book box
from Stephanie)

***

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour and pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings: Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas
Chucks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts . . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall, It raised the roof, it broke the wall . . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum.
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold French fries and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high That finally it touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said, “OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too late . . . The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out.
Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends

***
One sister for sale!
One sister for sale!
One crying and spying young sister for sale!
I’m really not kidding,
So who’ll start the bidding?
Do I hear a dollar?
A nickel?
A penny?
Oh, isn’t there, isn’t there, isn’t there any
One kid who will buy this old sister for sale,
This crying and spying young sister for sale?
Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends

(Johnny’s favourite – but he has six ssisters he could sell!)

***
Bless the four corners of this house,
And be the lintel blest;
And bless the heart and bless the board
And bless each place of rest;
And bless the door that opens wide
To stranger as to kin;
And bless each crystal window-pane
That lets the starlight in;
And bless the rooftree overhead
And every sturdy wall.
The peace of man, the peace of God,
The peace of Love on all!
Arthur Guiterman

***
Johnny’s our boy;
And Tina’s a joy –
Stephie’s the bestest;
And Elsie is a swelsie.

(John Bleh’s verse for his children)

***
John and Charlotte
Sittin’ in a tree,
K – I – S – S – I – N – G;
First came love,
Then came marriage,
Then came you lot
In your baby carriage!

(A little verse of the children’s
especially adapted for this book)

***
May the best ye’ve ever seen
Be the warst ye’ll ever see.
May the moose ne’er leave yer meal pock
Wi’ a tear drap in his e’e.
May yer lum keep blithely reekin’
‘Til ye’re auld eneuch tae dee,
May ye aye be just as happy
As I’d like ye aye tae be.

(A Scottish Toast)

***
I met a Stranger yestereen.
I put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
And music in the listening place.
And in the name of the Triune
He blessed me and my house,
My cattle and my dear ones.
And the lark said in her song:
”Often, often goes Christ
In the Stranger guise.”
A Gaelic Welcome

(A card I bought at Greyfriars Kirk,
Edinburgh, March 2003)

***
Bless this house, O Lord, we pray;
Make it safe by night and day;
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out:
Bless the roof and chimneys tall,
Let thy peace lie over all;
Bless this door, that it may prove
Ever open to joy and love.

Bless these windows shining bright,
Letting in God's heav'nly light;
Bless the hearth a'blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer;
Bless the folk who dwell within,
Keep them pure and free from sin;
Bless us all that we may be
Fit, O Lord, to dwell with thee;
Bless us all that one day we
May dwell, O Lord, with thee.

(This is a favourite hymn of mine from Palace Theatre days
when I would go every Monday night on a free pass from
my Granny. Dennis Clancy, a friend of ours and fellow member
of the Church, would sing this beautifully in his tenor voice.
When I think of our home, I pray we can be like this.)

***

I’m sittin’ in ma chair noo
Beside ma ain fireside;
I’m auld and wrinkled, grey and
bent,
And I’m in life’s eventide.
But yet I get on cheerily,
I’m as happy as can be;
Though I’m jist an auld Scots
granny,
Life’s been awfu’ guid tae me.

Oh, gin I mind o’ day’s lang gaen
When I was young and gay,
An’ how I looked ower mony a lad
Until Tam cam’ ma way.
He looked at me and I looked back
And a licht flashed in his e’e;
And it wasna’ lang til we were wed -
Life’s been awfu’ guid tae me.

And fine I mind hoo glad I was
When oor first wee ane cam’.
Wi’ ae Tam walkin’ by ma side,
An anither in the pram
Ma he’rt was burstin’ wi’ such pride
I near cried oot wi’ glee;
And, aince again, there cam’ the thocht:
Life’s been awfu’ guid tae me.

Then John, and Jean, and Jessie cam’,
And, lastly, there was Bill;
Wi’ mumps and measles, flu’ an’ a’,
I fair went through the mill.
And work was scarce and times were hard,
But it’s certain as can be,
That somehow we aye scraipit through –
Life’s been awfu’ guid tae me.

Then Tam and Jean and Jessie went,
And John and, lastly, Bill;
They each took pairtners o’ their ain,
And the hoose was awfu’ still.
But then each Sunday Tam cam’ by
And brocht his wean tae me,
And Jean and Jessie followed on –
Life’s been awfu’ guid tae me.

Och, fine I mind the sad, sad day
When I watched my Tam pass on.
And empty, empty was the hoose,
And I was all alone.
But then wee Tam an’ Jess an’ Jean
Cam’ toddlin’ roond ma knee,
And aince again ma he’rt was
filled –
Life’s been awfu’ guid tae me.

Aye, I’m sittin’ in ma chair noo,
Beside ma ain fireside;
I’m auld and wrinkled, grey and betnt,
I’m in life’s eventide.
But yet I get on cheerily.
I’m as happy as can be;
Though I’m just an auld Scots granny
Life is awfu’ guid tae me.

(A recitation piece that the old folks enjoyed from my
concert repertoire – I always enjoyed performing it, but now
that my children have all left home, I find it has new meaning.)


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