October 26, 2007

Poetry Friday: Halloween is Coming edition

This poem is sadly appropriate because the woods and fields are most certainly wintry this October morning, covered with more than just a dusting a snow and it is still snowing; even sadder, my children are delightedly pulling on snow pants to go out and shovel as I type. Temperatures are supposed to rise a few degrees into the the 30s today, so while I'm urging the thermometer up, the kids are urging more snow down. Drat.

The Witch in the Wintry Wood
by Aileen Fisher (1906-2002)

This is the story of timid Tim
who thought that witches went after him
when the night was dark and moon was dim.
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

This is the tale of how Tim one night
didn't start home until candlelight
when the sky was black and the snow was white.
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

He walked through the woods like a frightened goat,
hist muffler twisted around his throat,
expecting to jump at a witch's note:
"Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO."

Out of the night came a sheep dog's yowl,
which Tim was sure was a witch's howl,
a terrible witch on a wintry prowl.
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

Tim, the timid, began to race,
certain he sighted a witch's face
back of each shadowy hiding place.
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

He ran through the woods on his lonely trek
till horrors! a hand went around his neck,
holding his headlong flight in check.
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

Around his throat went a witch's hand
that jerked poor Tim to a sudden stand.
His heart was water, his legs were sand!
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

Nobody knows how long he stood
with that hand on his throat in the silent wood
until he could find some hardihood...
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

Then he looked around like a shaky calf,
thinking of words for his epitaph,
and "Oh, ho, ho!" he began to laugh...
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

For what he saw was a funny sight --
it wasn't a witch at his throat by night,
but a pine branch pulling his muffler tight!
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

The more Tim chuckled, the more he thought
how most of his fears were like mufflers caught
and stretched much tighter than mufflers ought.
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

And the end of this story of timid Tim
is -- nevermore, when the night was dim,
did he fear that witches were after him!
Woo-HOO, woo-HOO, woo-HOO.

* * *

This poem is from Ghosts and Goblins: Stories for Halloween, compiled by Wilhelmina Harper and illustrated by William Wiesner, which I found on the shelf of the little village library while the kids were art lessons. The book, originally published in 1936 with a revised edition in 1965 (and now unfortunately out of print) includes not just stories -- mostly folk tales from around the world, including several by Joseph Jacobs -- but also poems -- Carl Sandburg's Theme in Yellow, Walter de la Mare's Someone -- and is great readaloud fun in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Wilhelmina Harper compiled several other holiday anthologies, also out of print, including Easter Chimes, The Harvest Feast, and Merry Christmas to You. Worth searching your library for.

* * *

Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children had a wonderful Poetry Friday birthday post for Aileen Fisher in September of last year.

* * *

The last Poetry Friday round-up for October 2007 -- boo! -- can be found today at
at Sandhya Nankani's Literary Safari. Because yesterday was St Crispin's Day, Michele at Scholar's Blog has the St Crispin's Day speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, one of Laura's favorite passages to recite.

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