Monday, January 23, 2006

Improbable Bestiary: The Ogre

Amazing Magazine published this poem written by Gwynplaine McIntyre in March of 1985. It wasn’t long after this printing that I became pregnant with my first child. I spent days memorizing this poem, I thought it was adorable. I planned to save the magazine for my daughter, but lost it when we moved just before her birth. I would love to have a copy of it, but not for $13.00 + shipping and handling. Anyway, it has been more than 20 years, and I don’t know how accurate my memory is here. Perhaps, if someone reads this, and knows better, they can let me know.

Improbable Bestiary: The Ogre.

Early one morning, without any warning, while both of his parents lie dreaming,
Young Johnny fell out of his bed with a shout and ran down the corridor screaming!
“An Ogre is under my bed!” Johnny said when his parents both asked what was wrong.
“An Ogre with big hairy fingers this wide! And his sharp pointy teeth are this long!
He’s big and he’s green and he looks really mean and he laughed and he grinned and he made all kinds of noise!
And he said ‘I’m and Ogre, I eat little boys!’
He’s under my bed, take a look!” Johnny said, and his five year old face had turned white.
“He said ‘I’ll go away, little boy, for today, but then I’ll come back and I’ll eat you tonight!’ “
“What a nightmare you had,” said his parents and smiled,
“What a dreamer, what a lad, what a boy, what a child!”
They would not even look underneath Johnny’s bed
for “The ogre was only a nightmare.” they said.

But his grandmother came and she took Johnny’s hand
And she spoke in way little boys understand.
“There will always be ogres to scare you,” she said.
“And monsters will always be under your bed.
You can’t run away from the shadows of fear,
The way to erase them is to stand up a face them,
And fight them and chase them, and they’ll disappear.”
So Johnny went back to his bedroom that night.
He lay in the darkness alone with his fright

And he tried very hard not to cry.
Then the ogre came at him from under the bed.
His big hairy fingers encircled his head.
And the Ogre said “Johnny get ready to die!”

Next morning the house was still as a tomb.
No sound emanated from young Johnny’s room,
But under the door, all along the bare floor,
Trickled something unpleasant and red.
His parents, not knowing what they should expect,
Broke open the door, and they found the place wrecked.
But they pulled Johnny free from beneath the debris.
And he managed to stand, and he pointed his hand
At the thing the corner that quivered and bled.
Johnny said to his parents “The ogre is dead!”

Friday, January 13, 2006

Grasshopper Green

I found something really cool. I would buy it but can't! It's music to Grasshopper green!

And this!
Songs and Games for Little Ones By Gertrude Annie Walker, Harriet S. Jenks, Harriet Sweetser (Jenks) Greenough: "GRASSHOPPER GREEN E fr r J 1 Grasshop per Green is a com i cal chap He lives on the best of fare IX Bright lit tic jack et and trous ers and cap These are his sum mer wear Out in the mead ow he loves to go 1 lay ing a way in the sun It"

When big gray clouds loom, and bring with them gloom,
I can dream of a happier time.

A summer's day bright, is always just right.
How happy the green of the lime.

So I close my eyes, and clear up the skies
with this cute little whimsical rhyme.

My mom used to recite this to us kids. I cannot find anything like it anywhere. Does anyone out there recognise it?

Grasshopper Green is a comical chap
Who lives on the best of fares.
Bright little trousers, jacket and cap,
These are his summer’s wear.
Out in the meadow he loves to go,
Playin’ away in the sun.
It’s hopperty-skipperty, high and low.
Summer's the time for fun!

Grasshopper Green has a quaint little house,
It’s under the hedge so gay.
And Grandmother Spider, still as a mouse,
Watches him over the way.
Gladly he’s calling his children, I know,
Out in the beautiful sun.
It’s hopperty-skipperty, high and low.
Summer's the time for fun!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Poor Babes in the Woods

My mother would sing this song to us kids when we were little. When I had children I would sing it, but never being able to get to the end with out crying.

My dears do you know
How a long time ago
Two little children,
Whose names I don’t know,
Were stolen away
On a fine summers day,
And left in the woods,
I’ve heard people say.

And when it was night,
So sad was their plight.
The sun, it went down,
And the moon gave no light.
They sobbed and they sighed,
And they bitterly cried,
And the poor little things
Laid down and died.

And when they were dead,
The robin, so red,
Brought strawberry leaves,
And over them spread.
All the day long
He sang them this song:
Poor babes in the woods!
Poor babes in the woods!

I love how extensive the has become since I first tried to research this song!

I have found a journal page Banshee Babes that has this song and a poem that mirrors an old English story of a couple with a boy of 3 and a girl not quite 2. The man falls ill, his wife follows and when they realize they will both die, he find a gentleman to take care of the children who are to inherit the couples wealth. Once the couple are dead and the gentleman feels enough time has passed, he hires a couple of villains to do away with the beautiful children so that he might inherit their money.

The villains quarrel about killing the children and one slays the other and leaves the children alone in the woods where they die, never to be found.

I learned long before the internet was born that this story is based on a true story of a fairly well known and high ranking (nobility if I my memory serves me) couple who died when their children were small. The man who agreed to raise them, kept them for a while, then suddenly they were gone. He said he sent them away to school, but he wasn't believed.

Looking at all of the sites that contain this song, it is amazing to see how oral traditions continue to evolve from generation to the next! The written word, books, the internet and who knows what will come next, may end the amazing transformations of some stories. Who knows? I am glad I live in a time when our stores mimic our memories. We believe we know what happened, how it happened and all the details - Even after the story has been altered over the years. If we had written it down when it happened, the stories would not grow with us. I don't know if that is necessarily better.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Gnome

When my children were very young, I found a book of chilren's stories at a yard sale. It had the cutest poem in it and I memorized it. Unfortunately, the book went missing and I have been unable to find the name of the author anywhere. If anyone out there has this book, or knows who wrote this, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

ONCE there lived a little gnome
Who had made his little home
Right down in the middle of the earth, earth, earth.

He was full of fun and frolic,
But his wife was melancholic,
and he never could divert her into mirth, mirth, mirth.

He had tried her with a monkey,
And a parrot, and a donkey,
And a pig that squealed whene'r he pulled it's tail, tail, tail.

But though he laughed himself
Into fits, the jolly elf,
Still his wifey's melancholy did not fail, fail, fail.

"I will hie me" said the gnome
"From my worthy earthy home;
I will go among the dwellings of the men, men, men.

"Something funny there must be,
That will make her say he-he!
I will find it and will bring it her again, 'gain, 'gain."

So he Traveled here and there,
And he saw the blinking bear,
And the platypool whose eyes are in his tail, tail, tail.

He saw the Linking Gloon
Who was playing the bassoon.
And the octopus a waltzing with the whale, whale, whale.

He saw the Chingo Chee,
And what a lovely sight was he
with a ringlet and a ribbon in his nose, nose, nose.

And the Baggle and the
Wog, and the Cantinuar Dog
who was throwing cotton flannel at his foes, foes, foes.

All these the little gnome
transported to his home,
and sat them down before his weeping wife, wife, wife.

But she only cried, and cried,
And she sobbywobbed and sighed
'Till she really was in danger of her life, life, life.

Oh the gnome was in despair,
And he tore his purple hair,
And he sat him down in sorrow on a stone, stone, stone.

"I, too" he said "will cry
'Till I tumble down, and die,
For I've had enough of laughing all alone, 'lone, 'lone."

His tears, they flowed away
Like a rivulet at play
With a bubble gubble rubble o'er the ground, ground, ground.

But with this his wifey saw,
She loudly cried "Haw! Haw!
Here at last is something funny you have found, found, found!"

She said "Ho! Ho! He! He!"
And she chuckled loud with glee,
And she wiped away her little husbands tears, tears, tears.

And since then, through wind, and weather,
they have said "He! He!" together
for several hundred thousand merry years, years, years!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Old Apple Tree

This is one of the songs my mother sang to us kids when we were little. I think this is a little different than the one she used to sing, but I like this version better. It was definitely handed down from my mother's mother who grew up in the Ozarks.

Old Apple Tree

There's an old apple tree in the orchard,
That lives in my memory.
It reminds me of my Pappy,
He was handsome, young, and happy
when he planted that old apple tree.

Apple tree, apple tree,

I remember that old apple tree.
If my Pappy had-a-knowed it,
Well, I know he wouldn’t a growed it,
'Cause he died in that old apple tree.

Oh, one day Pappy took the Wider Norton
Out on a jamboree.
When he brought her home at sun up
Brother Norton raised his gun up
And chased Pappy up in the tree.

Apple tree, apple tree,
Oh, he climbed up in the old apple tree.
And if Pappy had-a-knowed it,
He surely wouldn’t a growed it,
'Cause he died in that old apple tree.

When the neighbors came after my Pappy,
Up in the tree was he.
Oh, they took a rope and strung him
By the neck and then they hung him
To the limb of that old apple tree.

Apple tree, apple tree,
Oh they hung him in the old apple tree.
If my Pappy had-a-knowed it,
Well, I know he wouldn’t a growed it,
'Cause he died in that old apple tree.

Oh my poor Pappy lies in the orchard
Out of his misery.
They cut the tree down for a casket,
Put the apples in the basket,
And my poor Pappy's gone with the tree.

Apple tree, apple tree,
Say goodbye to the old apple tree.
If my Pappy had-a-knowed it,
Well, I know he wouldn’t a growed it,
'Cause he died in that old apple tree.