When I was a little girl I made a great discovery. I discovered poetry. I discovered it in the form of a few simple rhymes written by obscure authors. I fell in love with poetry. And not only did I fall in love with poetry, I also decided that I was a poet. Thereafter ensued many poetic character sketches such as “Mom is nice, she cooks rice”.
There was nothing amazing about the book I had read. But what is amazing is the influence that one little book has had on me through all these years. I now own over seventy-five books of poetry; I’ve read most of them. Writing poetry is still a pursuit of mine; I get excited over rhythmic patterns, meters, and rhyming schemes. And all because I read a little book of poems when I was six.
I plan to read A Child’s Garden of Verses to my children. Then I plan to let them read it to themselves when they are able. I hope that they’ll grow up considering it one of their friends, laughing at the jolly subjects and rollicking verses. I hope that this book will cause my children to love poetry, to write poetry, to treasure poetry. And perhaps one day, one of my little dears will write “Mom is sweet, she cooks meat” and dedicate it to me.
I can’t include all of the poems I liked, but I’ll give you two of my favorites.
“I love you well, my little brother,
and you are fond of me;
Let us be kind to one another,
As brothers ought to be.
You shall learn to play with me,
And learn to use my toys;
And then I think that we shall be
Two happy little boys.” – Mother Goose
My Mother (by Ann Taylor)
Who dressed my doll in clothes so gay,
And fondly taught me how to play,
And minded all I had to say?
Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
Who taught my infant lips to pray,
And love God’s holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way?
The Little Jumping Girls by Kate Greenaway was included. One of the verses reads:
Jump all night;
Won’t our mothers
Be in a fright?”
It seems that scaring mothers makes play more exciting.
The Unseen Playmate by Robert Louis Stevenson speaks of an invisible playmate who plays games with children. It is true that children often invent imaginary friends, but this is hardly something that should be encouraged.
Hans Christian Andersen is quoted as saying, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale, written by God’s fingers.” I understand what Mr. Andersen is trying to communicate – that every man’s life is as specially crafted as any written story, and that ‘real life’ is as exciting as the stories that we read – but better words could have been chosen to communicate these facts.
In a selection from Hymns In Prose For Children, Anna Laetitia Barbauld states,
“There is little need that I should tell you of God, for every thing speaks of him…. We cannot see God, for he is invisible; but we can see his works, and worship his footsteps in the green sod.”
It is true that ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3), but we are also commanded by God to instruct our children in his ways. “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…” (Deut. 6:6-7) It is also true that we should praise God for his marvels, and delight in His creative work. But he distinctly condemns worshipping His handiworks in Romans 1:25 “[who] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
Shadow March by Robert Louis Stevenson assigns sinister/monster-like attributes to shadows.
In yet another selection from Hymns In Prose for Children, Anna Laetitia Barbauld states, “Many kingdoms, and countries full of people, and islands, and large continents, and different climates, make up this whole world – God governeth it.” This is a true statement. But Mrs. Barbauld uses this truth as a basis for an untruth, for she goes on to say, “All are God’s family; he knoweth every one of them, as a shepherd knoweth his flock……” Mrs. Barbauld here fails to distinguish between existence in God’s world and existence in God’s family; only those who are regenerate are God’s family.
The Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore is included.
Conclusion. The combination of beautiful, sober illustrations and enchanting verse makes this book invaluable
Review © 2012 Laura Verret