Wonderful Children's Poets | Sunday Observer

Wonderful Children's Poets

6 September, 2020

Robert Louis

Perhaps you have heard of Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of classics such as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Well, he also wrote a much-beloved 1885 collection of poems for children entitled A Child’s Garden of Verses, that has gone through countless editions and hands. Some argue that the darkness in some of the poems is reflective of Stevenson’s sickly childhood. Here’s a classic from the collection, entitled My Shadow.


My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in
and out with me,
And what can be the use of him
is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me
from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me,
when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is
the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children,
which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller
like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little
that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie
as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow,
like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me
and was fast asleep in bed.


Roald Dahl

Well, of course. The weirdo king of kiddie lit also wrote and published poems, including his famous Revolting Rhymes, a collection of six fairy-tale retellings in verse form. Only they’re not straightforward retellings, of course. Much like Anne Sexton (and mucha unlike her), he has his own ideas about how these tales should be told. For instance, this section, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White and  the Seven Dwarfs

For ten whole years the silly Queen
Repeated this absurd routine
Then suddenly, one awful day
She heard the Magic Mirror say
“From now on Queen,
you’re number two
Snow-White is prettier than you.”
The Queen went absolutely wild
She yelled, “I’m going to scrag that child.”
“I’ll cook her flaming goose,
I’ll skin her
I’ll have her rotten guts for dinner.”
She called the Huntsman to her study
She shouted at him, “
Listen, buddy,
You drag that filthy girl outside
And see you take her for a ride
Thereafter slit her ribs apart
And bring me back her bleeding heart.”

- Internet