When We Were Very Young is a collection of poetry written by A. A. Milne, author of the famous Winnie-the-Pooh series, and contains the first literary appearance of Winnie the Pooh.
Of course, most of the poems do not feature Pooh Bear. They feature elephants, ships, rabbits, and saucepans; mice, chrysanthemums, mirrors, and stairs. They are all written in the oh-so-darling-English style, and are entirely whimsical. Here were my favorites.
Knights and Ladies
There is in my old picture-book
A page at which I like to look,
Where knights and squires come riding down
The cobbles of some steep old town,
And ladies from beneath the eaves
Flutter their bravest handkerchiefs,
Or, smiling proudly, toss down gages . . .
But that was in the Middle Ages.
It wouldn’t happen now; but still,
Whenever I look up the hill
Where, dark against the green and blue,
The firs come marching, two by two,
I wonder if perhaps I might
See suddenly a shining knight
Winding his way from blue to green – exactly as it would have been
Those many, many years ago. . . .
Perhaps I might. You never known.
I often wished it was that simple…
Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where I always
Halfway up the stairs
And isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery,
It isn’t in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
“It isn’t really
It’s somewhere else
And a few verses from Teddy Bear (which may have been the cutest of them all!)
A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.
Now tubbiness is just the thing
Which gets a fellow wondering;
And Teddy worried lots about
The fact that he was rather stout.
He thought: “If only I were thin!
But how does anyone begin?”
He thought: “It really isn’t fair
To grudge me exercise and air.”
For many weeks he pressed in vain
His nose against the window-pane,
And envied those who walked about
Reducing their unwanted stout.
None of the people he could see
“Is quite” (he said) “as fat as me!”
Then, with a still more moving sigh,
“I mean” (he said) “as fat as I!”
Poor, stout, Pooh-Bear. =)
Several of the poems feature imaginary conversations between animals (or stuffed animals, as the case may be) and humans. In another, the author mentions a brownie (of the non-edible sort) and ‘the Lake King’s daughter’, a small fairy. In one poem, it is said that a man has worked all his life at a spell which will turn things into gold. As of the writing of the poem, he had not yet achieved his goal.
Conclusion. Cute – probably most appreciated by those who enjoy the Winnie the Pooh series or the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret