Shepherd John

By Mary Mapes Dodge 1831–1905
Oh! Shepherd John is good and kind,
   Oh! Shepherd John is brave;
He loves the weakest of his flock,
   His arm is quick to save.

But Shepherd John to little John
   Says: ‘Learn, my laddie, learn!
In grassy nooks still read your books,
   And aye for knowledge burn.

Read while you tend the grazing flock:
   Had I but loved my book,
I’d not be still in shepherd’s frock,
   Nor bearing shepherd’s crook.

The world is wide, the world is fair,
   There’s muckle work to do.
I’ll rest content a shepherd still,
   But grander fields for you!’

Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

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Poet Mary Mapes Dodge 1831–1905

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Youth, Coming of Age, Disappointment & Failure, Activities, Jobs & Working

Poetic Terms Nursery Rhymes

 Mary Mapes Dodge

Biography

Poet Mary Mapes Dodge was born into an academic family in New York, and was educated at home by tutors. At 20 she married a lawyer with whom she had two children. After her husband’s death seven years later, Dodge began her writing career to support her sons. Dodge’s most famous children’s novel, Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates (1865), was inspired by historian John Lothrop Motley’s The Rise of the Dutch Republic and The . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Coming of Age, Disappointment & Failure, Activities, Jobs & Working

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Nursery Rhymes

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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