National Poetry Month: Day 3

There are two books of poems that I remember well from my childhood. One was an edition of A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson that had illustrations made of string and burlap (very 1970s). I couldn't remember the name of the other book, but I could vividly remember most of the poems and stories from it. There was one about animal crackers, The Owl and the Pussycat, the Nonsense Alphabet from Edward Lear (A was once an apple pie...), and Wynken, Blinken, and Nod. Thankfully a bit of investigation on Google revealed the name of the book: The Bumper Book. I was so excited to find out what the name was! My kids don't seem to be as attached to particular books in the same way that I was, but if they were to fall in love with a book I wish it could be this one. A favorite poem from this was The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, which now that I read it is a little violent and disturbing. I think I just liked the sound of the words "gingham" and "calico".

THE GINGHAM dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate        
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I was n't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)
The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!" 
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face, 
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Never mind: I 'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)
The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!" 
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew! 
(Don't fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)
Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day 
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so, 
And that is how I came to know.)

--"The Duel" by Eugene Field

Comments

SeƱora H-B said…
FoxyJ! This is my favorite childhood book, too. My parents have my mom's ancient copy at their house. I used to imagine eating animal crackers with cocoa when I was a kid (not as exciting as it sounded, unfortunately). In fact, my sister-in-law made a gingham dog and a calico cat for my niece because my brother loves this poem so much. I have looked for copies of The Bumper Book online, because I'd love to have one, but they are prohibitively expensive. I'm going to have to convince someone to scan the book so that all of us can have one! What a pleasant memory you've evoked on a Wednesday morning. Thanks!
Katya said…
Oh, that's a wonderful poem. We must have had it in another book when I was growing up.

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