Essay on Children's poetry

“Never Poke Your Uncle With a Fork”

Jack Prelutsky, the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate.

by Karen Glenn

Five Poems NOT to Read before Eating

Jack Prelutsky’s poems can be frightening or funny. Sometimes they can be both. But these particular poems come with a caution: Don’t read them before breakfast, lunch, or dinner! They could curdle your stomach or lure you into tasting strange and dangerous things. The consequences could be quite cruel . . .

1. “Herbert Glerbett”
Admittedly, eating 50 pounds of lemon sherbet could be considered excessive. But does poor Herbert Glerbett deserve what happens to him? You decide.

2. “Deep in Our Refrigerator”
What’s the longest you’ve ever kept leftovers? A month? A year? How much fungus is in your freezer? Can you compete with the family in this poem? If so, keep that spoon out of that strange-smelling mayonnaise!

3. “Twickham Tweer”
Talk about weird. Twickham Tweer takes the cake—or, rather, the banana peels, the empty jars, and the candy wrappers. It’s not much of a diet, and the human body—even Twickham’s—has its limits. This poem proves it.

4. “The Creature in the Classroom”
It’s a monster all right, and it eats blackboards, erasers, pens, paper, notebooks, homework, and even the teacher’s desk. Can you guess what it gobbles for dessert?

5. “Pumberly Pott’s Unpredictable Niece”
This girl definitely has an eating disorder. She chows down on carburetors, windshields, spark plugs, and fuel pumps. After reading this, we have just one piece of advice: Don’t try this at home. We will not be held responsible.

AUDIO
Listen to poems by Jack Prelutsky
Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face
Suzanna Socked Me Sunday
Deep in our Refrigerator


For years Jack Prelutsky has been known informally as a poet laureate for kids. Now the Poetry Foundation has made it official, naming him the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate and putting a prestigious stamp of approval on the man and his work. So just what is it about Prelutsky that compels this respect? Why do kids write him letters and hug him when he turns up for school visits? Why do adults take his work seriously?

For a hint, consider some of the actual words that critics have used to describe his (almost countless) poetry books for children: zany, charming, irreverent, gothic, tongue-in-cheek, surreal, rich, varied, rib-tickling, silly, playful, wacky, inventive, whimsical, preposterous, frivolous, hilarious, and pure fun. Not to mention WEIRD and BIZARRE!

Then think about the ways that reviewers and interviewers have described the 66-year-old Prelutsky himself: a child in an adult’s body, a boy who never grew up, a daydreamer.

Yes, as all this implies, Prelutsky writes what kids like, whether it’s scary poems about trolls and bogeymen, or funny ones about worm puree and bananacondas. Yes, he knows how to have fun and makes boatloads of puns, but Prelutsky is more than a tall, clever child. He is a real poet who knows as much about form, rhythm, and rhyme as he does about burned meatloaf, umbrellaphants, and preposterpusses. He also knows about feelings and, for lack of a better word, soul.

“Jack is never predictable. He’s always fresh, surprising, and different,” says Susan Hirschman, the editor who discovered him and has worked with him for 37 years. “He’s always original and never repeats himself. He’s like a beach. Every day the ocean comes and washes everything clean.”

So let’s check out some of the top reasons to love Jack Prelutsky, author of instant classics from The Dragons Are Singing Tonight and A Pizza the Size of the Sun to It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles and Something Big Has Been Here. Warning: Your own reasons may vary!

Prelutsky for Kids

1. Prelutsky knows what kids like. He has the skills to reach them. “He’s never coy or sentimental,” says Hirschman. “He never writes down. He’s never winking at the parents over the heads of the children.” He remembers what childhood was like and what kids like to do. He understands kids’ interests (animals, ogres, family, school, friends, dinosaurs), and he writes the poetry that he wishes had existed when he was young. His zany approach means that it was no accident that he was the poet chosen to complete Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, the unfinished manuscript of his close antecedent, Dr. Seuss.

2 . He’s funny, just plain everyday funny. He takes ordinary situations from home and school and exaggerates them. Kids can relate. As absurd as they are, they are almost something that could have happened to them or their friends. In “Never Poke Your Uncle with a Fork,” he writes about a nephew who does just that. In “My First Best Friend,” he muses about a child’s seven best friends, all of whom are mean to him, a too common childhood complaint. In his ironic closing, he notes:

My seventh best is Monster Moe—
he often plays too rough.
That’s all the friends I’ve got right now—
I think I’ve got enough.

3. He’s funny—funny strange. An unusual number of eccentric characters stalk his poems, from Twickham Tweer—who eats “uncommon meals” such as “cottage cheese containers” and “cellophane from caramels”—to “Pumberly Pott’s Unpredictable Niece,” who has a very rare type of eating disorder. (Hint: It involves automobiles.)

His humor is also full of surprises. He twists things around in ways the reader would never expect. In “I Found a Four-Leaf Clover,” the good-luck charm brings him only bad luck, from burnt toast to broken glasses. Wham! And then another wham, as he concludes:

If I ever find another,
I will simply let it be,
or I’ll give it to my brother—
he deserves it more than me.

4. He’s funny—scary funny. Kids love to be scared, and Prelutsky sometimes obliges while simultaneously letting them off the hook. For example, if “A Wolf Is at the Laundromat,” that could be scary. But not when:

It combs its hair, it clips its toes,
it is a fairly rare wolf,
that’s only there to clean its clothes—
it is a wash-and-wear wolf.

5. Yet he has the power to be truly frightening as well. There is a reason why one of his books is called Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. These poems delight youngsters who enjoy screaming and hearing their hearts pound. For instance, in “The Bogeyman,” the title character . . .

. . . skulks in the shadows, relentless and wild
in his search for a tender, delectable child.
With his steely sharp claws and his slavering jaws
oh he’s waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

This bogeyman is no pushover, the poet makes clear as he concludes:

For oh! . . . what he’ll do . . . when he gets you!

Prelutsky for Adults

Kids aren’t the only ones who love Prelutsky. Adults—parents, teachers, librarians—cherish him just as much. Their reasons are slightly different.

6. He writes real poetry, both formal and informal. He’s got rhythm. He’s got rhyme. He’s even got onomatopoeia, as curious creatures “honk and quack and squawk.” This is not pretend poetry, gutted of its elements. It’s the real thing, filled with alliteration and music—not surprising when you learn that Prelutsky is a musician who, when young, wanted to be an opera singer. Luckily for the poetry world, he heard Pavarotti and thought better of it. Still, armed with his guitar, Prelutsky continues to check out his metrics by singing them. “In a lot of children’s poetry,” says Hirschman, “the rhythm is off. You know what the rhyme is going to be. That’s never true with Jack.”

Although he’s been compared with Shel Silverstein and Edward Lear, he has said that his earliest influences were actually Dylan Thomas, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edgar Allan Poe. Like them, he knows all about form. He writes rhyming couplets. He follows strict rhyme schemes. He writes sonnets—not that kids would ever know it! His poetry is not like spinach, but like chocolate cream pie. He’s written concrete poems, such as “I Was Walking in a Circle,” which circles around on itself without ever ending. He has written backward poems and mirror-image poems and poems that wander all over the page. He even wrote a book of haiku, If Not for the Cat. The title poem, below, is told from a mouse’s point of view:

If not for the cat,
And the scarcity of cheese,
I would be content.

As you’d guess, it has the requisite 17 syllables, divided between the three lines in a perfect 5/7/5 count.

7. He’s extremely literate. That is not unexpected in an anthologist who personally owns more than 5,000 books of children’s poetry. What’s more, he has a great vocabulary. What other children’s poet uses words like incalculable, carburetor, despicable, happenstance, relentless, cacophonous, malodorous, pedestrian, and arabesque? If you want children to learn context clues or dictionary skills, this poetry will inspire them.

In that sulphurous, sunless and sinister place
he’ll crumple your bones in his bogey embrace.

Sulphurous and sinister will soon add to the word power of new Prelutsky fans. What could be better than voluntary vocabulary—without tears?

8. He makes kids think. His poems are imaginative, full of what-if’s and strange points of view. For example, what if your nose were someplace other than where it is? In “Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face,” he ponders various possible locations:

Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,
that clearly would not be a treat,
for you’d be forced to smell your feet.

Or what if someone crossed a radish with a shark (an evil radishark!)? Or a lion with a broccoli (the interesting broccolion!)? Or a porcupine with a pineapple (well, what do you think its name would be?)?

Prelutsky also takes up unusual points of view, including that of 17 (no accident) different animals in his haiku book. What would you expect from someone who collects miniature frogs? Frog viewpoints show up in his poems as well.

9. He acknowledges emotions. Children often find their feelings difficult to cope with, but in Prelutsky’s poems they discover that others experience the same things they do. Of course, the beings involved may be a little . . . odd. For example, in “Song of the Baby Gargoyles,” three little monsters sing of their love for their mother, while begging her to let them stay up during the day. In “Lament of a Lonely Troll,” a scary troll is tired of being alone and cries tearfully that he is desperate for company. Even Prelutsky’s funniest poems, such as “My Sister Is a Werewolf,” deal with topics such as the consequences—and sometime necessity—of being different.

10. He hooks kids on poetry—and reading in general. Even the most reluctant readers love Prelutsky. In this age of violent videos and ever declining standards on TV, millions of children happily sit down with his books and read his poetry over and over and over again. With any luck, reading Prelutsky will encourage them to read other authors and even, someday . . . who would have thought it . . . other poets.

Could there be a more important reason for picking Prelutsky to be our country’s first Children’s Poet Laureate?

Originally Published: September 28, 2006

COMMENTS (46)

On November 14, 2006 at 7:19am Sheri Polis wrote:
I am seeking advice on locating a poem that can be read by a 9-year-old girl at a poetry recitation. The poem must be at least 36 lines, and it will be read on December 6th, so any advice you could provide ASAP would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

On November 15, 2006 at 12:57pm Barbra Fitzsimmons wrote:
I wanted to share a story with the new Children's Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky but wasn't sure how to reach him. When I was a substitute teacher in Newfoudland, Canada, I picked up one of Jack's books at the end of the day and shared several poems with the second grade students as they waited for the bus. The next morning, one little girl rushed into the classroom, scooped the book off my desk, and breathlessly asked, "Will you please, please, PLEASE read more poems today?" Jack's poems made such an impression on these children. p.s. My son and I shared many a bedtime laugh over Jack's books. Thank you so much! Barbara Fitzsimmons, Ed.D.

On December 30, 2006 at 1:56pm Raphy wrote:
I love the poetry on this website and would love to see more!

On February 12, 2007 at 9:12am Paulette Goodman wrote:
Making poet, Jack Prelutsky, the "Children's Poet Laureate" will help launch poetry for children in a very positive way. His exquisite use of words tantalizes and tickles children's and young adult's imagination, allowing them to think beyond themselves and see the other side of life. Bravo to you for being the first to have this award. It is a giant step forward for this genre!

On February 22, 2007 at 8:33pm Marty-Ann Kerner wrote:
Thank you for the wonderful article on Jack Prelutsky. I am a preschool teacher and I rely on him often! This website is a new find for me and I intend to revisit it.

On March 1, 2007 at 2:13pm Lori Dittman wrote:
This is a great site. I am planning a poetry unit with 8th graders and I really want to get them excited and hooked. Any ideas for hooking them are welcomed!

Thanks,

Lori Dittman

On March 7, 2007 at 7:17pm Grace wrote:
I am needing the Poem "No, I won't turn orange" for my daughters project.Can anyone help?

Thanks

On March 9, 2007 at 11:24am Pam Carpenter wrote:
Does Jack Prelutsky give workshops at elementary schools? We would love to have him speak to our students. How do we contact him?

On March 10, 2007 at 7:40pm Elizabeth Scarpelli wrote:
I am an aspiring children's poet and would love

to have the opportunity to take a workshop

with the master of children's poetry, Jack

Prelutsky. Does he ever teach in the San

Francisco Bay area? If he would ever consider

doing a workshop for Northern California

chapter of SCBWI ( Society of Children's Book

Writers and illustrators) I can work to put that

together with the NORCAL advisors in San

Francisco. My email may be used as contact

information.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Scarpelli

On March 20, 2007 at 4:35pm Glenda Tyskerud wrote:
I have recently read a poem that my niece found and the main subject character was "Deeble" or Deebles". I'd like to ask Jack Prelutsky where he found that name, because is was my maiden name. Is there anyway I can contact him personally? Thank you. Glenda

On March 22, 2007 at 3:02pm jayee norris wrote:
hi jack i love your poetry its a insperation to me. i am having poetry cafe every other friday. the first time we have it i read the poem my brother built a robot from the book something big has been here. also mostly every one in my class likes and picks your poems!!!!!!

happy easter!!!! please write back!!!!!

On March 24, 2007 at 5:28pm Samantha Greenberg wrote:
I think this page is okay but Jack Prelutsky I think is the best poet ever I think his best book is The New Kid on the Block it is sooooo funny.

On March 26, 2007 at 10:03pm Cheryl McClendon wrote:
I teach 6th grade and we just started poetry. Jack is my hook. Kids are loking this unit and reading more as a result of finding one they think is funnier than the last one read by a peer. Thanks Jack.

On April 4, 2007 at 8:11pm Cody Wright wrote:
im learning about poems in school and i typed a 982 pg report he is the bomb i wish he could rite 1 about me plz and put it on this site i like baseball and school

On April 4, 2007 at 8:13pm Cody w wrote:
on him

On April 8, 2007 at 1:28pm Kerry wrote:
Hello! I am looking for a poem by Jack Prelutsky. It is called "I Was Walking in a Circle." Is this poem located on this website?

THANKS!

On April 10, 2007 at 12:24pm Gwen wrote:
In response to Kerry's question

"I Was Walking in a Circle" can be found in the great book, "A Pizza the Size of the Sun". It is one of my son's favorites. Since it is written in the shape of a circle I imagine it would be hard to post on the website.

Enjoy!

On April 11, 2007 at 9:38am tony wrote:
i love ur books and poems i read them too my

kids everyday !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On April 22, 2007 at 12:31pm Helen Zax wrote:
I would love the opportunity to write to Mr. Prelutsky, whose work I have admired for years. Please send me an email or mailing address, if possible. With appreciation— Helen

On April 24, 2007 at 7:23pm a wrote:
u r great

On April 25, 2007 at 8:55pm Tony wrote:
Hi There =]

i just wanted to say your poems are really creative and nice.

i also have a question if u can please answer

like, pretend the poem" I A Falling off a Mountain" do u have any special meanings in your poems? Or are you just trying to say that peoms can be easy, simple, and funny and it doesnt have to have a serious meaning at all.

Thank you for ure time and effort for reading this

On April 27, 2007 at 9:12pm Tracy Stavang wrote:
Jack and Chris Raschka just presented their new book, Good Sports, at our school. We would like an address that we can write a thank you to. Many thanks!

On April 29, 2007 at 8:37pm Jena Ash wrote:
I just finished completing an author study with third graders and we all wrote letters to Jack Prelutsky however I cannot find his address anywhere? Where can I get his address to send the letters the students wrote to him? Please send me an email address or address so I can forward the letters to him. Thanks.

Jena Ash

On May 3, 2007 at 2:21pm Judith Gantly wrote:
Actually...a question:

Does Jack Prelutsky ever visit school children who just love his poems? Our school is located in Glen Ridge, NJ and we would love for him to visit us in March or April of 2008.

We await your reply.

Sincerely,

Judith

On May 7, 2007 at 6:48pm karina wrote:
Those poems that jack prelutsky made are very funny and creative.I wish i could make such interesting poems like him.He has a very creative mind.His poems make me crack myself up.He probably writes everday for probably 1 or 2 hours a day.He probably doesn't stop writing or misses any day to practice making a poem.Those are my comments for now.See you later.

On May 11, 2007 at 8:50pm todd jefferies wrote:
Does Jack Prelutsky have a personal website? How does one contact him or his management about possible bookings?

On May 12, 2007 at 5:18pm Yuki wrote:
I love Jack's poems.I'm amazed by his work, and even though I'm 13, I cant get enough of his humor. I've been consumed in reading as much of it as I can.

I expesially enjoyed his poems

"I Found a Four Leaf Clover"

and

"Deep in Our Refrigerator"

I hope he continues writing more poems, me and my friends will be waiting for his next book.

On May 14, 2007 at 8:45pm Corinna wrote:
Dear Jack,

I love your poems!

In class we were supposed to find a poem to read at the autors fair. Me and my friend Adara found to really silly poems by you. They were: When Fred Gets Out Of Bed, and Tomorrow's my Unbirthday.

Sincerely Corinna

On May 16, 2007 at 8:42am Richie wrote:
How old are you?

On May 16, 2007 at 10:00am Richie wrote:
Please reply.

On May 20, 2007 at 12:26pm dddd wrote:
i like it's raining pigs and noodles

On May 28, 2007 at 7:47pm Ben wrote:
My school would like it if you came to visit. Can

you give me your address so we can write to

you? I go to Cherry Crest Elementry in Bellevue,

WA.

Please write back.

From, Ben

On June 14, 2007 at 11:20am Lydia Fucsko wrote:
I AM UNDERTAKING A PHD ON FROGS AND MYTHOLOGY AND JACK AND LYDIA WHO LITERALLY LIVE IN THE TOILET (MY TWO GREEN TREE FROGS NEED TO SPEAK WITH THE CHILD WITHIN THE MAN - THAT IS THE 'REAL' JACK PRELUTSKY) AS THEIR HABITAT IS BEING DESTROYED! HENCE THEIR NEW HEADQUARTERS IS IN A DUNNY!

A SONG HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND A CHILDREN'S BOOK IS ON THE WAY. TRAVEL TO www.frogs.org.au AND CLICK ON FEATURES - HOWEVER LYDIA FUCSKO (YOURS TRULY) WOULD LIKE TO BRING THIS FROGTASTIC MAN DOWN UNDER TO MEET NEAR EXTINCT SPECIES OF FROGS AND TO ENGAGE IN A BRAINSTORM AND COME UP WITH A WAY TO HELP MY FROGGY FRIENDS, GREAT THOUGH SMALL.

MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS

lydia@frogs.org.au

I DOUBT ANYONE READS THESE SUBMISSIONS BUT IF YOU DO AND YOU CAN HELP I THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF SPECIES DYING AT A RATE AS NEVER BEFORE IN HISTORY! FROM A NASTY FUNGUS NO LESS CALLED THE CHYTRID FUNGUS!

IF ANYONE ELSE IS AN AUTHOR/WRITER/MUSICIAN/TEACHER/SCIENTIST/ARTIST (BASICALLY ANYONE ECCENTRIC, FUN AND INNOVATIVE, AS I AM APPEALING TO YOUR NARCISSISM:-) ) WHO IS TRULY PASSIONATE ABOUT EDUCATION, THE ENVIRONMENT, FROGS, GLOBAL WARMING AND WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE WRETCHED STATE OF OUR PLANET PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME WITH YOUR LATERAL VIEWS.

AN AMPHIBIOUS SALUTE!

LYDIA FUCSKO

AUSTRALIA

On July 17, 2007 at 4:08pm heidi grunenwald wrote:
I read "Herbert Glerbett" when I was around

eight years old and it left a horrific impression

on me. I absolutely loved it but at the same

time had a hard time sleeping because I kept

thinking of how awful "the thing that does not

smile" must have looked. I am trying to track

down the original book this appeared in, and

I've been searching online to no avail. I feel

pretty certain that there was another poem in

the book I'd borrowed from the library that not

only had Herbert Glerbett but also a poem

about a girl named Adelaide, and "the more

she ate, the less she weighed" until the point

that she ate so much she disappeared. If

anyone could point me in the right direction I

would be ever so grateful!

Cheers!

Heidi Grunenwald

New York

On July 19, 2007 at 10:39pm Regina Carlow wrote:
I am writing a book for elementary teachers, librarians and child care providers that connects music with children's literature. My title is "Pizza Pizza Daddy-O: Exploring the Connection between Music and CHildren's LIterature" It will be published by Libraries Unlimited and set for a March 2008 publication - I am seeking Jack PRelutsky's email address so I can get his permission to use the poem " A Pizza The Size of the Sun" in my chapter on Grades - K-2.

Please help me find an expedient way to contact him to ask his permission.

Thank you

Regina Carlow,

Albuquerque, NM

505-858-0006

On August 29, 2007 at 1:35pm Eileen Fuller wrote:
This summer I watched an interview with Jack Prelutsky on C-Span BookTV. I am wondering if this interview is available to show students in a 5th grade language class. Children love Prelutsky poetry and I think this interview would give them some insight and understanding of how and why Jack Prelutsky writes poetry for children.

On September 2, 2007 at 1:24pm Kathy Odadzin wrote:
I'm looking for a poem for a nursery

it speaks of cobwebs having to wait because a baby needs to be rocked? Help!

On September 3, 2007 at 9:41pm Li Ma wrote:
hi ,do you like my poetry? we can talk about it.please contact with me:

email: s_ch@sina.com

telephone:678-797-2176(room)

On September 3, 2007 at 9:44pm Li Ma wrote:
Dear editor:

I am a visiting scholar in Kennesaw State University from Beijing ,China. I am a Chinese poet. I translate some of my poems in English.Could it can be published in your pretty magazine?

I look forward to your suggestions.

Thank you for your help!

LI Ma

Poet

Li Ma

1. Little fairy maiden

There is a little fairy maiden

in my body

She is standing on tiptoe

looking for a cool booth

Like a mushroom.

2. You

Your character is like a purple fish

It is neither quick nor slow.

3. Writing

Writing in the tiny room

Dreaming in the midday nap

Little mouse occasionally hums a popular tune

Swaying my dream tenderly.

4. Leaves

The leaves are the skirt of the tree

They are roomy and sedate

Along with the edge of the skirt

An ant is looking for a nightingale

They have never seen.

5. Little mushroom

Little mushroom is the bell

in the boscage

Shake and ring in the spring.

6. Snail

How happy a snail!

Cross through the mud

all day long .

7. Music

Music is a bird

Jumping on the lawn

8. Little bird

Little bird

Dressing the beautiful underwear

Flying ceaselessly

9. Childhood

childhood

In the sun

On the water.

10. Summer

The frog's croak is the sound of the water

The wild chrysanthemum is lemon yellow

The child is the summer breeze.

11. Pears

Pears are not little children

They have their special opinions

about the forest.

12. The cabbage

The cabbage smiled

They smiled

All over the ground.

13. Sound

The forest needs some sounds

For example: the ground and the star.

14. Poem

Poem is disconnected

a bit transparent

a bit green

15. The South

The South is like a female

Little dewdrop wakes up

as soon as it's turned over.

16. Your lips

Your lips are the other spaces

My words have a slight slope

at the pointed end of my tongue

Soft voice

no shape

On September 30, 2007 at 2:08pm Shelly wrote:
Just like someone above, I am interested in having Jack Prelutsky come and talk to the students at my school. Does he do this? If so, how can I get a hold of him. Thanks!

On October 9, 2007 at 12:40pm Bebe wrote:
As above, we would love to have Jack Prelutsky come to our school for our Author's Workshop assemblies. How do we get in touch with him?

On January 16, 2008 at 1:25pm robert cohen wrote:
I am a composer of works for chorus. I recently came upon Jack Prelutsky's poem "The Diatonic Dittymunch." I'd like to set it to music for a commuinity Chorus in NJ. How do I contact him to ask for permission? My website is www.robertscohen.com. I also collect frogs.

Bob

On February 7, 2008 at 10:45am dznuts wrote:
too short

On August 1, 2008 at 2:17pm Lydia Fucsko wrote:
Information supplied by Lydia Fucsko

"Babies Don’t Keep" was written by

Ruth Hulbert Hamilton.

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,

Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,

Hang out the washing, make up the bed,

Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,

Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,

Lullabye, rockaby, lullabye loo.

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew

And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo,

But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo,

Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow

But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs;

Dust go to sleep!

I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

On August 2, 2008 at 12:07pm Lydia Fucsko wrote:
Lydia Fucsko: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton's poem was published in the Lady's Home Journal in 1958 entitled "Song for a Fifth Child"

However research shows that the poem is referred to as “Babies Don't Keep” and classified as a lullaby. The popular verse referenced or recalled by most people is:

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.

I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

.

These lines are often adopted and incorporated into personal poems and claimed to be that of the 'author!

It is still customary to embroider the poem predominantly onto materials, such as blankets and pillow cases. Such personalised items made ideal gifts given at baby showers, or as presents bestowed upon the new mother to be. Such an 'heirloom' could be handed down from generation to generation, as a sentimental piece, with an enduring message of a mother's love with the message of transience; enjoy your child as time is fleeting – a mother's work is never done!

On August 26, 2008 at 3:06am Lydia Fucsko wrote:
Review by Lydia Fucsko: Who is Jack Prelutsky? That is like asking who is an orange, not what is fruity, why is the question, where are your nuts and how is the answer? Unabashedly eccentric exquisitely excitatious, Prelutsky has permanently borrowed Roget and reworded his Thesaurus - he is Jack beyond the beanstalk, Jack with spades of stories, the sage of sillydumb, the seriously Seussian prince of poetry, Prelutsky’s a king of the comedic – his is the invitation into a world of mischievous make believe so believe you can make and make many mistakes, save one – his poems are ultimately funny but you have been warned – they range from light to dark and all shades in betwixt. Leave common sense at the door and invite nonsense in to settle the score - the cadence of his rhymes are melodies in motion - absurdisms lost sadly upon many ‘adults’ which children the world oversee with clarity, are regaled with evermore flips, turns, kinks, and tongue twisting tales to tantalise and taunt - the deceptively mundane and or even and then some fantas-tickle poems are penned with deliriously delightful detail for our consideration. Yes Jack alliterates too like some of us do and so profusely it’s true… I ask you now (and then) which witch is which? Ask Jack Prelutsky - if any one could resort to a well timed retort leave it to Jack where well worded words will win wordsmiths the world over.

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Karen Glenn is a poet and freelance writer in Colorado. She has been the editor of several classroom literary magazines for Scholastic, the educational publisher, as well as the writer for Parade Magazine’s newspaper-in-education program and the judge of its annual nationwide teen poetry contest. She has worked as a poet-in-the-schools and holds a master’s degree in library science. Her articles have appeared in magazines from . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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