Friday, March 31, 2006

Poetry Friday: Trauma Edition

This Friday I'm heading back to my own childhood and posting two classic poems I read (or heard) often. One of these poems was a great comfort, the other a childhood trauma.

First, the comforting poem: "The Land of Counterpane," by Robert Louis Stevenson (from Child's Garden of Verses)

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

"The Land of Counterpane" is the perfect poem for the young introvert. A whole day to play with your toys in an imaginary world. Too sick for school and duties, but well enough for a whole day of creation.

True, I never knew what a counterpane was as a child. But it did sound mysterious. I was somewhat disappointed when I finally looked it up as an adult and found out it meant "bedspread."
Okay, now for the trauma: "Monday's Child".

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for its living,
And a child that's born on the Sabbath day
Is blithe and bonny and good and gay.

"Monday's Child" is in so many anthologies of nursery rhymes and it is almost impossible to escape it as a child. (If any of you readers know the origins of this one, I'd love to find out more!)

Why was it a traumatic poem for me? Why I was a Wednesday's child, of course. I even convinced myself I was born on a Thursday. Unnecessary trauma for 1/7th of the world's children, in my opinion.