I took this quince photograph a few weeks back at the magnificent John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Co. Wexford. The minute I saw it, I was reciting the final stanza of Edward Lear’s (1871) The Owl and the Pussy Cat to myself:
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Santa never failed to bring me books of nursery rhymes and children’s poetry. I still have them all and love delving into them as they bring me back to those happy days looking at the colourful pictures and listening to Mother reading everything from Jack and Jill to The Highwayman as I drifted off to sleep.
It was these hours of shared reading that sowed the seed for the passion for poetry that has been such a part of me all my life.
May I suggest that just in case Santa doesn’t have enough books to go round that anyone who has young children in their lives (and I mean from babyhood onwards) makes sure that a book of nursery rhymes or children’s poetry is among the gifts that are beneath the tree on Christmas morning.
They are presents for life in a host of ways and are not just Treasuries; they are treasures that will set little imaginations alight.
What’s your favourite nursery rhyme or children’s poem?