Put me doon! There’s gonna be poetry!*

There’s hasn’t been enough poetry in my life recently, mostly because I’m not reading to the kids as much any more. We start kids off with poetry and many of the books that I hold closest to my heart are full of the stuff.

Yesterday a twitter hashtag wandered into my tweetstream and pretty much made my day, it produced such gems as these:

@: SO YOU JUST HOLD THIS DOWN WHILE YOU TYPE EH? CLEVER! E E CUMMINGS

: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, Dam this Navman to hell.

: Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments, unless the couple are same sex

: Your face, my thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters. You must’ve fallen asleep on the newspaper again

: Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone , actually just wait I’ll order a pizza first

: Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi’ the sun; I will luve thee still, despite severe climate change

I added a few efforts of my own to the mix:

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no-one like Macavity, except for that ratbag cat in my kitchen.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house we were searching for the safe place where we hid the pressies

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around that the train’s cancelled and we had to change platforms

There once was a swagman who camped by a billabong and got moved on for loitering

I was reading the quotes out to Adam and the kids which of course eventually led to me reciting bits of various poems and ultimately in me rummaging for books of poetry on the bookshelf beside me.

There’s the Clancy of the Overflow picture book and Mulga Bill’s Bicycle, and also a collection of Banjo Patterson’s poems with illustrations by Pro Hart. A book of nonsense poetry which includes The Owl and The Pussy Cat, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat and The Walrus and the Carpenter. Two copies of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. A hardback edition, identical to the one that still sits on the shelf at my mum’s place, of The World of Christopher Robin encompassing When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, which was a gift from friends in the US when I was 10 years old. I won’t go on to list the multitude of kid’s picture books that are poems spread over a line per page or the various novels which include poetry. No, wait, I will mention one of the latter – The Magic Pudding, full of quotable bits of poetry such as the lines my Uncle Rob was wont to use at the dinner table: “Eat away, chew away, munch and bolt and guzzle. Never leave the table till you’re full up to the muzzle!” My two copies of the Complete Shakespeare and the four volumes that comprise a complete A. B. (Banjo) Patterson and a complete Henry Lawson are downstairs.

I have read to my kids from all of these books and have quoted bits of poetry from them and from other sources at them at the drop of a hat since they were tiny. My childhood was filled with the same poetry, my dad particularly was prone to quoting bits of poems whenever there was an opening.

My Nanna, Dad’s mum, was an obsessive Shakespeare fan and I can’t remember when I first heard “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment” but the strongest association that line brings to mind is my parent’s dining room and my father reciting.


Mulga Bill’s Bicycle brings back memories of bike riding holidays with my cousins at Bundanoon and my Aunty Liz making a certificate of achievement for my cousin Warwick, decorated with a picture of Mulga Bill, as an award for riding his bike UP Constitution Hill (a hill so long and steep that you were forbidden to ride hired bikes down it).

I hear The Quangle Wangle in my mum’s voice in my head when I read it.

The line “Bears, just look how I’m walking in all the squares!” conjures an image of me looking down at my own very small feet walking on a paved footpath.

I wonder what associations poetry will have for my kids, probably mostly of their mother launching into recitations whenever an association of her own was triggered and being shouted down because they didn’t want to have to listen to the whole damn thing. I’m still working on getting them to join in instead like I used to and still sometimes do with my Dad.

I told Twitter I was going to come here and blather about books, I guess this qualifies. There doesn’t seem to have been much point beyond me saying that I love all this stuff and I want to share it with my kids. Perhaps you lot can amuse yourself in the comments by working out who all the various quotes and poem titles belong to. Or you could tell me what your favourite poetry is, for kids big or small.

*One of my favourite Nac Mac Feegle quotes. The concept of combat poetry amuses me no end, it made my kids laugh too 🙂

10 Responses to “Put me doon! There’s gonna be poetry!*”

  1. Deborah says:

    Like. The post and the poetry and the quoting of poetry in your family.

  2. Eternal Lizdom says:

    Love this post, Mim! I think sharing poetry with our kids is so important- it's an art form that doesn't seem as strong as it once was. My daughter is discovering Shel Silverstein and I love leading her down that Sidewalk…

  3. Penny says:

    heh heh – my family is similar. Dad/Mum often quoted Banjo Patterson and The Magic Pudding is a family fav. Other literary quotes get flung around as part of the family vocab… and Punch cartoon captions etc.

  4. mimbles says:

    Thanks all 🙂 I'm glad you like it!

    @Penny We do Gary Larson captions, "Midvale school for the gifted" gets trotted out when negotiating new doors.

    @Ariane I don't recognise the first one at all and the second one I feel like I should but can't place it.

    @Barb Haven't come across that one, looks like it was published after I stopped obsessively scouring bookshops for cool picture books 🙂

    @hyper Yay! I delurked you! 🙂 Lovely to know you're still reading and I love that you hear poems in your dad's voice.

  5. Life with Kaishon says:

    I love this post. So glad you are keeping poetry alive in the family! How fun about your twitter interactions. LOVE it!

  6. Ariane says:

    The poetry in our family is much more lowbrow: "Stop it Sam, you silly man. He's got the brains of a frying pan" and

    "Cried Englebert Sneem (for of course it was he) 'I've uncorked a nightmare, the nightmare is ME'"

    I have a real soft spot kids' books in verse. 🙂

  7. Barbara Palmer says:

    I think you would like Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy. Got it?

  8. hyperion79 says:

    Your quotes and lists brought back memories of poems that will forever be (in my head) spoken in my dad's voice. I've started Elspeth's collection but you've reminded me of a few more books I need to track down. Thanks as always – may not comment much, but appreciate the thoughts you share.

  9. hyperion79 says:

    Realised I didn't actually say which are the current faves with a 2yo. Triantiwontigongalope (I always want to alter the final verse to sound like a description of Gallifrey), and "Hist… Hark" by CJ Dennis, Scroobius Pip and Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear, and A Bush Christening. On the "get ASAP list" are A.A. Milne, and Spike Millagan.

  10. Mrs4444 says:

    That's quite a mix you have in your collection! It's easy to see why you love poetry. Me, on the other hand…I just can't get into it! Mostly, I've only written limericks, haha!

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