Poetry Recommendation: Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris

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“The Children’s Hour”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!


I discovered this poem in a collection of poetry titled Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris. The pastel yellow book accompanies me most days to the homeschooling table and in the brief moments of quiet when my children are huddled over their work, I mark poems I would like to read-aloud to them or assign for their memorization work.

The collection is comprehensive (the book itself is almost 600 pages) and includes poems from authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Tennyson, William Shakespeare, Edward Lear, and J.R.R. Tolkien. The poems are divided into categories with playful titles like “My Almanac,” “It’s Fun to Play,” “Bird-watcher,” “From the Family Scrapbook, and “Almost Any Time is Laughing Time.” The double-page introducing each category is illustrated with attractive line drawings by the talented Leonard Weisgard. Since the poems themselves are not illustrated, the book is best for a graduating young reader who wants to digest more poetry or for reading-aloud to children of multiple ages.

I will not add this to my nursery classics booklist until I have read through it in its entirety, but I have a strong suspicion it will earn a place.


Have you discovered any wonderful poetry collections? Please share in the comments below.

Looking for more poetry recommendations? Click here.

 

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How am I to sing your praise?

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“Picture-Books in Winter”

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Summer fading, winter comes
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds,
trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are,
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks,
In the picture story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?


I was unfamiliar with Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry until I saw the title A Child’s Garden of Verses on John Senior’s nursery booklist. Since then I have become extremely fond of Stevenson’s poetry and will always recommend A Child’s Garden of Verses if asked what poetry book to first invest in for a child’s library (apart from an excellent Mother Goose collection). Stevenson’s poems delightfully and wisely capture the joy, curiosity, and imagination of children. A Child’s Garden of Verses is also the book I reach for when looking for poems for my young children to memorize.

The full text of A Child’s Garden of Verses is available at Gutenberg.org. If you are looking for a printed edition, I recommend A Child’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Tasha Tudor. Her illustrative style is the perfect match for Stevenson’s poetry.

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A Poem for Advent

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“The House of Christmas”

by G.K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honor and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Found in The Home Book of Verse – Volume 1 by Burton Egbert Stevenson, on Gutenberg.org

 

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Christmas Booklist

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Every year after Christmastide we put our Christmas-themed books away so that when Advent begins it is the first time my children have seen them all year. I check out the ones we don’t own from the library and we place them in a basket with a festive bow. I love how these stories work their magic all Advent long as we prepare our hearts for Christmas morning. Here are our favorites. 

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Christmas Picture Books

Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov

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The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard

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Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck

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The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

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The Christmas Story Golden Books

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The Dolls’ Christmas by Tasha Tudor

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The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger

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The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

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The Nativity by Ruth Sanderson

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Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

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The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola

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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

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Books About Christmas Hymns

Good King Wenceslas by John Mason Neale, illustrated by Christopher Manson

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The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

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Stephen’s Feast by Jean Richardson

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The Twelve Days of Christmas by Gennady Spirin

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Christmas Poetry

 A Wreath of Christmas Legends by Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

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~ ADDITIONS! ~

The Christmas Story illustrated by Gennady Spirin

The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney


What are your family’s favorite Christmas books? Please share in the comments below.

You may also like . . . the Winter & Snow Booklist.

 

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