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AO Poems May AmblesideOnline.org

AmblesideOnline Year 1 Poetry Anthology May

Compiled and arranged by the AmblesideOnline Advisory, April, 2005 with revisions made Oct, 2011

     01 May Day, by Sara Teasdale, 1884-1933
     02 Hark, Hark! the Lark from Cymbeline, by Shakespeare, 1564-1616
     03 Baby Seed Song, by E. Nesbit, 1858-1924
     04 Afternoon on a Hill, by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950
     05 Sometimes, by Rose Fyleman, 1877-1957
     06 There is but one May in the year, by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
     07 Bird Song, by Laura E. Richards
     08 What Is Pink? by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
     09 The Fairies, by William Allingham, 1824-1889
     10 The Swing, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894
     11 The Jumblies, by Edward Lear, 1812-1888
     12 Jemima, anonymous-sometimes attributed to Longfellow
     13 The Duck and the Kangaroo, by Edward Lear, 1812-1888
     14 Sea Fever, by John Masefield, 1878-1967
     15 Daybreak, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882
     16 My Pretty Rose Tree, by William Blake, 1757-1827
     17 The Shepherd, by William Blake, 1757-1827
     18 The Frog, by Hilaire Belloc, 1870-1953
     19 Temper, by Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936
     20 A Cradle Song, by Thomas Dekker, 1570-1632


01 May Day, by Sara Teasdale, 1884-1933
      from Flame and Shadow, 1920

A delicate fabric of bird song
      Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
      Is everywhere.

Red small leaves of the maple
      Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
      The pear trees stand.

Oh I must pass nothing by
      Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
      The grass with my touch;

For how can I be sure
      I shall see again
The world on the first of May
      Shining after the rain?


02 Hark, Hark! the Lark from Cymbeline, by Shakespeare, 1564-1616

Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
      And Phoebus 'gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs
      On chaliced flowers that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin
      To ope their golden eyes:
With every thing that pretty is,
      My lady sweet, arise:
                        Arise, arise.


03 Baby Seed Song, by Edith Nesbit, 1858-1924
     appeared in "New Outlook: Volume 59," pg 448, 1898

Little brown brother, oh! little brown brother,
      Are you awake in the dark?
Here we lie cosily, close to each other:
      Hark to the song of the lark--
"Waken!" the lark says, "waken and dress you;
      Put on your green coats and gay,
Blue sky will shine on you, sunshine caress you--
      Waken! 'tis morning 'tis May!"

Little brown brother, oh! little brown brother,
      What kind of a flower will you be?
I'll be a poppy--all white, like my mother;
      Do be a poppy like me.
What! You're a sunflower? How I shall miss you
      When you're grown golden and high!
But I shall send all the bees up to kiss you;
      Little brown brother, good-bye.


04 Afternoon on a Hill, by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950
      from Renascence and Other Poems, 1917

I will be the gladdest thing
      Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
      And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
      With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
      And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
      Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
      And then start down!


05 Sometimes, by Rose Fyleman, 1877-1957
     from The Fairy Book, 1923

Some nights are magic nights,
      Before you go to bed,
You hear the darling music
      Go chiming in your head;
You look into the garden,
      And through the misty grey
You see the trees all waiting
      In a breathless kind of way.
All the stars are smiling;
      They know that very soon
The fairies will come singing
      From the land behind the moon.
If only you could keep awake
      When Nurse puts out the light . . .
Anything might happen
      On a truly magic night.


06 There is but one May in the year, by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

There is but one May in the year,
And sometimes May is wet and cold;
There is but one May in the year
      Before the year grows old.

Yet though it be the chilliest May,
With least of sun and most of showers,
Its wind and dew, its night and day,
      Bring up the flowers.


07 Bird Song, by Laura E. Richards
      from The Home Book of Verse, ed. Burton Egbert Stevenson, vol 1, 1912

The robin sings of willow-buds,
Of snowflakes on the green;
The bluebird sings of Mayflowers,
The crackling leaves between;
The veery has a thousand tales
To tell to girl and boy;
But the oriole, the oriole,
      Sings, "Joy! joy! joy!"

The pewee calls his little mate,
Sweet Phoebe, gone astray,
The warbler sings,
"What fun, what fun,
To tilt upon the spray!"
The cuckoo has no song, but clucks,
Like any wooden toy;
But the oriole, the oriole,
      Sings, "Joy! joy! joy!"

The grosbeak sings the rose's birth,
And paints her on his breast;
The sparrow sings of speckled eggs,
Soft brooded in the nest.
The wood-thrush sings of peace, "Sweet peace,
Sweet peace," without alloy;
But the oriole, the oriole,
      Sings "Joy! joy! joy!"


08 What Is Pink? by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

What is pink? a rose is pink
By the fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float through.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? why, an orange,
Just an orange!


09 The Fairies, by William Allingham, 1824-1889

Up the airy mountain
     Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
     For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
     Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
     And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore
     Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
     Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
     Of the black mountain-lake
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
     All night awake.

High on the hill-top
     The old king sits;
He is now so old and gray
     He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
     Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
     From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
     On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
     Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
     For seven years long;
When she came down again
     Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
     Between the night and morrow,
They thought she was fast asleep,
     But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
     Deep within the lakes,
On a bed of flag leaves,
     Watching till she wakes.

By the craggy hill-side,
     Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
     For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
     As dig one up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
     In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain
     Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
     For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
     Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
     And white owl's feather.


10 The Swing, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894

How do you like to go up in a swing,
     Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
     Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
     Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
     Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
     Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
     Up in the air and down!


11 The Jumblies, by Edward Lear, 1812-1888

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, 'You'll all be drowned!'
They called aloud, 'Our Sieve ain't big,
But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
In a Sieve we'll go to sea!'
  Far and few, far and few,
       Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
  Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
       And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
'O won't they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it's extremely wrong
In a Sieve to sail so fast!'
  Far and few, far and few,
       Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
  Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
       And they went to sea in a Sieve.

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, 'How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!'
  Far and few, far and few,
       Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
  Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
       And they went to sea in a Sieve.

And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
'O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!'
  Far and few, far and few,
       Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
  Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
       And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
  Far and few, far and few,
       Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
  Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
       And they went to sea in a Sieve.

And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more,
And every one said, 'How tall they've grown!
For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, 'If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,---
To the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
  Far and few, far and few,
       Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
  Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
       And they went to sea in a Sieve.


12 Jemima, anonymous; sometimes attributed to Longfellow;
      authorship has been disputed since at least the 1880's

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl,
      Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very very good,
      But when she was bad she was horrid.

One day she went upstairs while her parents, unawares,
      In the kitchen down below were at their meals,
And she stood upon her head, on her little trundle bed,
      And she then began hurraying with her heels.

Her mother heard the noise, And thought it was the boys,
      A-playing at a combat in the attic,
But when she climbed the stair and saw Jemima there,
      She took her and did spank her most emphatic!


13 The Duck and the Kangaroo, by Edward Lear, 1812-1888

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
'Good gracious! How you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!'
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

'Please give me a ride on your back!'
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
'I would sit quite still, and say nothing but "quack,"
The whole of the long day through!
And we'd go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land and over the sea;
Please take me a ride! O do!'
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,
'This requires some little reflection;
Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,
And there seems but one objection,
Which is, if you'll let me speak so bold,
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!' said the Kangaroo.

Said the Duck, 'As I sat on the rocks,
I have thought over that completely,
And I bought four pairs of worsted socks
Which fit my web feet neatly.
And to keep out the cold I've bought a cloak,
And every day a cigar I'll smoke,
All to follow my own dear true
Love of a Kangaroo?'

Said the Kangaroo, 'I'm ready!
All in the moonlight pale;
But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
And quite at the end of my tail!'
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy, O who,
As the Duck and the Kangaroo?


14 Sea Fever, by John Masefield, 1878-1967
      from Salt-Water Ballads, 1902

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.


15 Daybreak, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882

A wind came up out of the sea,
And said, "O mists, make room for me."

It hailed the ships and cried, "Sail on,
Ye mariners, the night is gone."

And hurried landward far away
Crying "Awake! it is the day."

It said unto the forest, "Shout!
Hang all your leafy banners out!"

It touched the wood-bird's folded wing,
And said, "O bird, awake and sing."

And o'er the farms, "O chanticleer,
Your clarion blow; the day is near."

It whispered to the fields of corn,
"Bow down, and hail the coming morn."

It shouted through the belfry-tower,
"Awake, O bell! proclaim the hour."

It crossed the churchyard with a sigh,
And said, "Not yet! In quiet lie."


16 My Pretty Rose Tree, by William Blake, 1757-1827

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said, 'I've a pretty rose tree,'
And I passed the sweet flower o'er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.


17 The Shepherd, by William Blake, 1757-1827

How sweet is the shepherd's sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

For he hears the lamb's innocent call,
And he hears the ewe's tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their shepherd is nigh.


18 The Frog, by Hillaire Belloc, 1870-1953
      from The Bad Child's Book of Beasts, 1896

Be kind and tender to the Frog,
      And do not call him names,
As "Slimy skin," or "Polly-wog,"
      Or likewise "Ugly James,"
Or "Gap-a-grin," or "Toad-gone-wrong,"
      Or "Bill Bandy-knees":
The Frog is justly sensitive
      To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay
      A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
      Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
      They are extremely rare).


19 Temper, by Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936
      from A Boy Scout's Patrol Song, 1913

Look out when your temper goes
     At the end of a losing game;
When your boots are too tight for your toes;
     And you answer and argue and blame.


20 A Cradle Song, by Thomas Dekker, 1570-1632

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby:
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you;
You are care, and care must keep you.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby:
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.