Favourite Poems

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats
There we've hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand

Away with us he's going
The solemn-eyed
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

                                                  W B Yeats


Cautionary tale about yawning.

Now children lend an ear or two 
for I’ve a tale to tell to you
concerning one, Euphemia Pratt.
Back in! Chin up! Don’t slouch like that!
No child’s conduct was more abstemious;
temper milder than Euphemia’s.
A perfect child and full of grace
who always walked at walking pace.
Seldom seen and never heard
to speak a rash or nasty word
until one day…(Oh don’t do that!)
a fatal day for family Pratt,
when Great Aunt Maud and Uncle Hugh
had come to spend a week or two.
They were expected to arrive
at roughly twenty-five to five
and this they did with punctuality;
knowing something of the locality.
Mama said: Auntie! How do you do?
How nice you look and you too Hugh!
Upon which Uncle Hugh sat down
and with a low lugubrious frown
began to tell a tale of wealth;
of testaments and failing health.
Mama, Papa and Nursey too
attended as if stuck with glue
to every phrase and every word
for they were certain it referred
to Great Aunt Maud whose health was poor,
whose will was made and they were sure
they would inherit land and riches,
stocks and shares and all that which is
due to nephew and to niece
upon a maiden aunt’s decease.
Euphemia, meanwhile was sitting
silently; as was befitting;
absent-minded, still and pale
while her uncle told his tale.
He talked of houses, gardens, botany.
Talked with studied, stern monotony.
Talked till nearly half past eight
of duties, deeds, estate, probate.
And then it was – Oh children hearken!
As the skies began to darken..
(Please attend! I've told you twice;
and don’t do that: It isn’t nice!)
T’was roughly quarter-past or less
while Uncle talked with ceaselessness,
that suddenly - and with no warning –
Euphemia started - yawning.
She yawned but once; and yawned again.
She yawned and yawned nine times or ten.
She yawned so far and yawned so wide,
her gums and tonsils gaped inside!
Mama was speechless with dismay
and Nursey fainted clean away.
Papa was fraught and Great Aunt Maud
said: Gracious me! The child is bored!
Then suddenly, through the window came
the great yawn-widener; eyes aflame
and hair on end and mouth so grim;
Oh children cringe! The sight of him!
For he’s the one who comes in rage
to children of a certain age
who dare to gape, yawn or grimace
at home or in a public place.
He seized Euphemia by the teeth;
one hand above;  one hand beneath
And caught her yawn and then began
(as all the best yawn-wideners can)
to widen, stretch, enlarge her yawn;
her lips were split; her jaw was torn.
Her throat was broke and with a shout
he turned Euphemia inside-out.
This done he smiled and bowed his head
and left ad not a word he said.
Mama said: Dearie me! Oh dear!
That this should happen: This in here!
Papa perceived Mama’s distress
and called the maid to clear the mess.
But Uncle Hugh surveyed the scene
and said: This incident has been
a grave reminder to us all
of all the things that can befall
those who, without a word of warning,
interrupt a speech with yawning.
Don’t you agree Aunt Maud? he said. 
But Great Aunt Maud, alas, was dead. 

[For Gracie]

The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb
One day Mamma said “Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don’t suck your thumb while I’m away.

The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys who suck their thumbs:
And ere they dream what he’s about,
He takes his great sharp scissors out,
And cuts their thumbs clean off-and then,
You know, they never grow again.”

Mamma had scarcely turned her back, the thumb was in, Alack! Alack!

The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissor-man.
Oh! Children, see! The tailor’s come
And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb.
Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out “Oh! Oh! Oh!”

Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast,
That both his thumbs are off at last.
Mamma comes home: there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands:
“Ah!” said Mamma, “I knew he’d come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb.


Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion.


There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo—
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know—or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so—
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;

Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!
He hadn't gone a yard when—Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.

Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.

No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted "Hi!"
The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.

"Ponto!" he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
"Ponto!" he cried, with angry Frown,
"Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!"

The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!
When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:—
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, "Well—it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!"

His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.


DO you remember an Inn,


Do you remember an Inn?

And the tedding and the bedding
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in-
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
Never more;Miranda,
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.

Hilaire Belloc

The War Song of the Dinas Fawr

A poem by Thomas Love Peacock

The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter.
We made an expedition;
We met a host and quelled it;
We forced a strong position
And killed the men who held it.

On Dyfed's richest valley,
Where herds of kine were browsing
We made a sudden sally
To furnish our carousing.
Fierce warriors rushed to meet us;
We met them, and o'erthrew them:
They struggled hard to beat us;
But we conquered them, and slew them.

As we drove our prize at leisure,
The king marched forth to catch us:
His rage surpassed all measure,
But his people could not match us.
He fled to his hall-pillars;
And, ere our force we led off,
Some sacked his house and cellars,
While others cut his head off.

We there, in strife bewildering,
Spilt blood enough to swim in;
We orphaned many children,
And widowed many women.
The eagles and the ravens
We glutted with our foemen:
The heroes and the cravens,
The spearmen and the bowmen.

We brought away from battle,
And much their land bemoaned them,
Two thousand head of cattle
And the head of him who owned them:
Ednyfed, King of Dyfed,
His head was borne before us:
His wine and his beasts supplied our feasts,
And his overthrow, our chorus.

Ednyfed, King of Dyfed
(born c.AD 373)
(Latin-Demetius, English-Edmund)