Tuesday, 5 January 2010

10 - 1 = 8 !!!!!!

In the winter time we go
Walking in the fields of snow;
Where there is no grass at all;
Where the top of every wall,
Every fence and every tree,
Is as white as white can be.
Pointing out the way we came,
Every one of them the same.
All across the field there be
Prints in silver filigree;
And our mothers always know,
By the footprints in the snow,
Where it is the children go.


When I was 6 years old, one of our school lessons was poetry, combined with handwriting practice.
This was in my infant classroom, where the particular lady teacher was very strict.

Once a week, we would have to sit and copy a poem from the blackboard in our 'best' writing.
At that time in my life, my handwriting was quite messy and I always got the lines of the poems completely muddled so that they were all set out incorrectly.
I've still got that book of mine and occasionally get it out for a good laugh!


There were three poems which stick in my mind from those happy days in my infant classroom.

The first poem is 'Bed in Summer' by Robert Louis Stevenson.

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day.

I loved this poem as it was so apt at that time in my life, when I would sit on my triangular window ledge, which was just ideal for a little girl to sit there with her knees up at evening time and watch the 'goings ons' in our road.


The second rhyme was 'Ten Little Nigger Boys'..I doubt that this would even be allowed in a classroom nowadays...but my version in my book is completely hilarious as I have muddled up all the rhyming bits so that none of it rhymes at all!
(Just to give you a 'snippet' of what I wrote....
'Ten little Nigger Boys went out to dine,
One choked himself and then there were eight!')

(As you can imagine,my maths report also read...could do better!! LOL)


Finally, there is the poem above, 'White Fields' by James Stephens, which I've always remembered, off by heart.


I would just add that by the age of 11, there was a vast improvement in my handwriting as I remember winning a handwriting competition (in my best italic handwriting, with my Osmiroid fountain pen no less!!) at the local library. Secondly, my love of poetry has remained.
(But I have always hated maths! ;-)
I wonder if you have any favourite poems from your Primary school days?


Shirl said...

Hi Sal, my favourite poem was (and still is) Nicholas Nye by Walter de la Mare.

Rosie said...

Thee are two poems I remember from junior school - 'The Listeners' by Walter de la Mare and 'Meg Merrilees' by John Keats. I like the first poem in your post - I've never come across it before so thank you for introducing me to it. I remember those handwriting tests and copying from the board - we had inkwells and scratchy pens - I was given a fountain pen when I went to senior school:)

A Country Girl said...

I've just got back from work, helping the Y3 with some snow poems - they have such great ideas!

Country Cottage Chic said...

I also enjoyed poetry at school - one of my favourites was Silver by Walter de la Mare:
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

And THE DONKEY by G.K. Chesterton which I still remember of by heart:

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Whew! That was probably a longer comment than you expected!!

galant said...

Cargoes by John Masefield which was turned into a song which I sang at a school concert.
Margaret P

Menopausal musing said...

Mine was also "Silver" by Walter de la Mare.......... I had to write it over and over in practice for a handwriting competition, which I won. (I wouldn't win anything with my handwriting now). Oh, and there was something that started "Quinquereme of Nineva".............. THANKS for the post, it was one to transport us back.

KC'sCourt! said...

Do you know we come from different parts of the country but I copied "In winter...... too. Like you we had a very strict teacher too who snatched pens out of left handers and wrapped knuckles, I got wrapped knuckles because of a big blot of ink, but like you when I was 11 I won a prize for handwriting too. I QUITE like Maths, but never very good at Grammer as you possibly tell from my blog!

Andi's English Attic said...

Only naughty schoolkid ones, I'm afraid. Mainly centred on Hitler, World Cup Willy and Christmas carols! xx

sarah-jane down the lane said...

"Tiger, Tiger burning bright..."

and of course "I wanndered lonely as a cloud...." Oh and "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...."

I could babble on and on and on!

I love poetry, always have and hope I always will.

Thanks for sharing this lovely post Sal, it made me chuckle.

Happy New Year and thanks so much for stopping by my blog, I really appreciate your comments,

Sarah x

Guenievre said...

My favourite poem was "L'oiseau-lyre" by Jacques Prévert. It's about a little boy who dreams of a bird during the lessons at school.
I liked too "Pomme de Reinette" de Maurice Carême.

Sarah said...

I did enjoy poetry, but can't remember any - although, unlike a lot of people I really got into Philip Larkin when I was doing A'Level English - they were rather 'dark' and depressing - what does that make me!

bellaboo said...

I loved poetry too and especially that RLS one.In my primary school,at the end of term,we had to stand up in front of the class and each read our poems out loud and I used to dread it,I was so shy!Hated Maths too,my Dad used to do my homework for me and then the teacher would ask me how I worked out the sum and I wouldn't be able to tell her!Oh happy days.


Wild Rose said...

Hi Sal,

This is my second attempt at commenting on your post ~ I think Blogger is having a funny turn this morning!

I am unfamiliar with White Fields, but it is the perfect poem for the weather you are having.

Enjoy the snow and keep warm.

Marie x