Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Wandering vaguely: quite of her own accord"

When I was six one of my gifts was When We Were Very Young. That was my introduction to A.A. Milne. Pooh doesn't appear in the book [although Christopher Robin does]. The book is a collection of Milne's poems. The illustrator was Ernest H. Shepard, who did the drawings for all of Milne's children's books [and for my favorite edition of The Wind in the Willows]. I much prefer Shepard's work to the Disneyfied versions. This, like most good children's books, is best read aloud. The best children's books are just as much fun to read when you're grown — all the more so when shared with a child. My favorite of the poems, then as now, is "Disobedience" about the refusal of a mother to take excellent advice about the dangers of going alone to the end of town.

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he;
"You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don't go down with me."
James James
Morrison Morrison
(Commonly known as Jim)
Told his
Other relations
Not to go blaming him.
James James
Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he:
"You must never go down to the end of the town
without consulting me."
James James
Morrison's Mother
Put on a golden gown.
James James Morrison's Mother
Drove to the end of the town.
James James Morrison's Mother
Said to herself, said she:
"I can get right down
to the end of the town
and be back in time for tea."
James James
Morrison's mother
Hasn't been heard of since.
King John said he was sorry,
So did the Queen and Prince.
King John
(Somebody told me)
Said to a man he knew:
If people go down to the end of the town, well,
what can anyone do?"
King John
Put up a notice,
"LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
JAMES JAMES MORRISON'S MOTHER
SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
LAST SEEN
WANDERING VAGUELY:
QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,
SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN
TO THE END OF THE TOWN -
FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!"
(Now then, very softly)
J.J.
M.M.
W.G.Du P.
Took great
C/0 his M*****
Though he was only 3.
J.J. said to his M*****
"M*****," he said, said he:
"You-must-never-go-down-to-the-end-of-the-town-
if-you-don't-go-down-with-ME!"