Andrew Lansdown

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A.A. Milne

 

Eight poems by A.A. Milne:

1. “Us Two”

2. “The King’s Breakfast”

3. “Lines And Squares”

4. “At The Zoo”

5. “The Friend”

6. “Disobedience”

7. “Forgiven”

8. “Vespers”

 

 

Us Two

 

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

Whatever I do, he wants to do,

“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:

“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.

Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.

“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

 

“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.

(“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.)

“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”

“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.

“It wasn’t an easy sum to do,

But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.

“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.

 

“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.

“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.

We crossed the river and found a few –

“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.

“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.

That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.

“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.

 

“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.

“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.

“I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,

And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!

Silly old dragons!” – and off they flew.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,

“I’m never afraid with you.”

 

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,

“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,

It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,

Can stick together, says Pooh, says he.

“That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

            A.A. Milne 

 

 

The King’s Breakfast

 

The King asked

The Queen, and

The Queen asked

The Dairymaid:

“Could we have some butter for

The Royal slice of bread?”

The Queen asked the Dairymaid,

The Dairymaid

Said, “Certainly,

I’ll go and tell the cow

Now

Before she goes to bed.”

 

The Dairymaid

She curtsied,

And went and told

The Alderney:

“Don’t forget the butter for

The Royal slice of bread.”

The Alderney

Said sleepily:

“You’d better tell

His Majesty

That many people nowadays

Like marmalade

Instead.”

 

The Dairymaid

Said, “Fancy!”

And went to

Her Majesty.

She curtsied to the Queen, and

She turned a little red:

“Excuse me,

Your Majesty,

For taking of

The liberty,

But marmalade is tasty, if

It’s very

Thickly

Spread.”

 

The Queen said

“Oh!:

And went to

His Majesty:

“Talking of the butter for

The royal slice of bread,

Many people

Think that

Marmalade

Is nicer.

Would you like to try a little

Marmalade

Instead?”

 

The King said,

“Bother!”

And then he said,

“Oh, deary me!”

The King sobbed, “Oh, deary me!”

And went back to bed.

“Nobody,”

He whimpered,

“Could call me

A fussy man;

I only want

A little bit

Of butter for

My bread!”

 

The Queen said,

“There, there!”

And went to

The Dairymaid.

The Dairymaid

Said, “There, there!”

And went to the shed.

The cow said,

“There, there!

I didn’t really

Mean it;

Here’s milk for his porringer,

And butter for his bread.”

 

The Queen took

The butter

And brought it to

His Majesty;

The King said,

“Butter, eh?”

And bounced out of bed.

“Nobody,” he said,

As he kissed her

Tenderly,

“Nobody,” he said,

As he slid down the banisters,

“Nobody,

My darling,

Could call me

A fussy man –

BUT

I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!”

            A.A. Milne 

 

 

Lines And Squares

 

Whenever I walk in a London street,

I’m ever so careful to watch my feet;

And I keep in the squares,

And the masses of bears,

Who wait at the corners all ready to eat

The sillies who tread on the lines of the street

Go back to their lairs,

And I say to them, “Bears,

Just look how I’m walking in all the squares!”

 

And the little bears growl to each other, “He’s mine,

As soon as he’s silly and steps on a line.”

And some of the bigger bears try to pretend

That they came round the corner to look for a friend;

And they try to pretend that nobody cares

Whether you walk on the lines or squares.

But only the sillies believe their talk;

It’s ever so portant how you walk.

And it’s ever so jolly to call out, “Bears,

Just watch me walking in all the squares!”

            A.A. Milne 

 

 

At The Zoo

 

There are lions and roaring tigers,

and enormous camels and things,

There are biffalo-buffalo-bisons,

and a great big bear with wings.

There’s a sort of a tiny potamus,

and a tiny nosserus too –

But I gave buns to the elephant

when I went down to the Zoo!

 

There are badgers and bidgers and bodgers,

and a Super-in-tendent’s House,

There are masses of goats, and a Polar,

and different kinds of mouse,

And I think there’s a sort of a something

which is called a wallaboo –

But I gave buns to the elephant

when I went down to the Zoo!

 

If you try to talk to the bison,

he never quite understands;

You can’t shake hands with a mingo –

he doesn’t like shaking hands.

And lions and roaring tigers

hate saying, “How do you do?” –

But I give buns to the elephant

when I go down to the Zoo!

            A.A. Milne 

 

 

The Friend

 

There are lots and lots of people who are always asking things,

Like Dates and Pounds-and-ounces and the names of funny Kings,

And the answer’s always Sixpence or A Hundred Inches Long.

And I know they’ll think me silly if I get the answer wrong.

 

So Pooh and I go whispering, and Pooh looks very bright,

And says, “Well, I say sixpence, but I don’t suppose I’m right.”

And then it doesn’t matter what the answer ought to be,

‘Cos if he’s right, I’m Right, and if he’s wrong, it isn’t Me.

            A.A. Milne 

 

 

Disobedience

 

James James

Morrison Morrison

Weatherby George Dupree

Took great

Care of his Mother,

Though he was only three.

James James Said to his Mother,

“Mother,” he said, said he;

“You must never go down

to the end of the town,

if you don’t go down with me.”

 

James James

Morrison’s Mother

Put on a golden gown.

James James Morrison’s Mother

Drove to the end of the town.

James James Morrison’s Mother

Said to herself, said she:

“I can get right down

to the end of the town

and be back in time for tea.”

 

King John

Put up a notice,

“LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!

JAMES JAMES MORRISON’S MOTHER

SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.

LAST SEEN

WANDERING VAGUELY:

QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,

SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN

TO THE END OF THE TOWN –

FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!”

 

James James

Morrison Morrison

(Commonly known as Jim)

Told his

Other relations

Not to go blaming him.

James James

Said to his Mother,

“Mother,” he said, said he:

“You must never go down to the end of the town

without consulting me.”

 

James James

Morrison’s mother

Hasn’t been heard of since.

King John said he was sorry,

So did the Queen and Prince.

King John

(Somebody told me)

Said to a man he knew:

If people go down to the end of the town, well,

what can anyone do?”

 

(Now then, very softly)

J.J.

M.M.

W.G.Du P.

Took great

C/O his M*****

Though he was only 3.

J.J. said to his M*****

“M*****,” he said, said he:

“You-must-never-go-down-to-the-end-of-the-town-

if-you-don’t-go-down-with-ME!”

            A.A. Milne

 

 

Forgiven

 

I found a little beetle; so that Beetle was his name,

And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same.

I put him in a match-box, and I kept him all the day …

And Nanny let my beetle out –

Yes, Nanny let my beetle out –

She went and let my beetle out –

And Beetle ran away.

 

She said she didn’t mean it, and I never said she did,

She said she wanted matches and she just took off the lid,

She said that she was sorry, but it’s difficult to catch

An excited sort of beetle you’ve mistaken for a match.

 

She said that she was sorry, and I really mustn’t mind,

As there’s lots and lots of beetles which she’s certain we could find,

If we looked about the garden for the holes where beetles hid –

And we’d get another match-box and write BEETLE on the lid.

 

We went to all the places which a beetle might be near,

And we made the sort of noises which a beetle likes to hear,

And I saw a kind of something, and I gave a sort of shout:

“A beetle-house and Alexander Beetle coming out!”

 

It was Alexander Beetle I’m as certain as can be,

And he had a sort of look as if he thought it must be Me,

And he had a sort of look as if he thought he ought to say:

“I’m very very sorry that I tried to run away.”

 

And Nanny’s very sorry too for you-know-what-she-did,

And she’s writing ALEXANDER very blackly on the lid,

So Nan and Me are friends, because it’s difficult to catch

An excited Alexander you’ve mistaken for a match.

            A.A. Milne

 

[NB. Melanie Safka composed a melody for this poem, which she titled “Alexander Beetle” and she sings to marvellous effect.]

 

 

Vespers

 

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,

Droops on the little hands little gold head.

Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!

Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

 

God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.

Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?

The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.

Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.

 

If I open my fingers a little bit more,

I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.

It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.

Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.

 

Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,

And pull the hood right over my head,

And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,

And nobody knows that I’m there at all.

 

Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.

And what was the other I had to say?

I said “Bless Daddy,” so what can it be?

Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

 

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,

Droops on the little hands little gold head.

Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!

Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

            A.A. Milne

 

 

A.A. Milne wrote two superb collections of children’s poetry: When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. First published in the 1920s, both collections have been repeatedly reprinted and should still be available today.

 

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