Page 1


Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Edited by David Kennedy



Contents Foreword Preface and Introduction

ix xii

Imagination On the Farm The Forest and Wild Places Story Poems Insects, Frogs, Snakes & Snails Fish Birds Mice Cats and Dogs Horses, Donkeys & Camels Fables When We Are Older

1 41 67 101 129 165 181 219 233 261 277 325

355 Waldorf Resources 358 Acknowledgments Index of Titles, Authors & First Lines 359


Magic Words Inuit

In the very earliest time, when both people and animals lived on earth, a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal could become a human being. Sometimes they were people and sometimes animals and there was no difference. All spoke the same language. That was the time when words were like magic. The human mind had mysterious powers. A word spoken by chance might have strange consequences. It would suddenly come alive and what people wanted to happen could happen. Nobody could explain this: That’s the way it was.


Carl Sandburg

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Dinkey-Bird

Eugene Field

In an ocean, ’way out yonder (As all sapient people know,) Is the land of Wonder-Wander, Whither children love to go: It’s their playing, romping, swinging, That give great joy to me While the Dinkey-Bird goes singing In the amfalula tree! There the gum-drops grow like cherries, And taffy’s thick as peas,— Caramels you pick like berries When, and where, and how you please; Big red sugar-plums are clinging To the cliffs beside that sea Where the Dinkey-Bird is singing In the amfalula tree. So when children shout and scamper And make merry all the day, When there ’s naught to put a damper To the ardor of their play; When I hear their laughter ringing, Then I’m sure as sure can be That the Dinkey-Bird is singing In the amfalula tree. For the Dinkey-Bird’s bravuras And staccatos are so sweet,— His roulades, appoggiaturas, And robustos so complete, That the youth of every nation— Be they near or far away— Have especial delectation In that gladsome roundelay. Their eyes grow bright and brighter, Their lungs begin to crow, Their hearts get light and lighter, And their cheeks are all aglow; For an echo cometh bringing The news to all and me, That the Dinkey-Bird is singing In the amfalula tree.



I’m sure you like to go there To see your feathered friend,— And so many goodies grow there You would like to comprehend! Speed, little dreams, your winging To that land across the sea Where the Dinkey-Bird is singing In the amfalula tree!

The Phrisky Phrog

Laura E. Richards

Now list, oh! list to the piteous tale Of the Phrisky Phrog and the Sylvan Snayle; Of their lives and their loves, their joys and their woes, And all about them that any one knows. The Phrog lived down in a grewsome bog, The Snayle in a hole in the end of a log; And they loved each other so fond and true, They didn't know what in the world to do. For the Snayle declared 'twas too cold and damp For a lady to live in a grewsome swamp; While her lover replied, that a hole in a log Was no possible place for a Phrisky Phrog. “Come down! come down, my beautiful Snayle! With your helegant horns and your tremulous tail; Come down to my bower in the blossomy bog, And be happy with me,” said the Phrisky Phrog. “Come up, come up, to my home so sweet, Where there's plenty to drink, and the same to eat; Come up where the cabbages bloom in the vale, And be happy with me,” said the Sylvan Snayle. But he wouldn't come, and she wouldn't go, And so they could never be married, you know; Though they loved each other so fond and true, They didn't know what in the world to do.



The Duck and the Kangaroo

Edward Lear

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo, “Good gracious! how you hop Over the fields, and the water too, As if you never would stop! My life is a bore in this nasty pond; And I long to go out in the world beyond: I wish I could hop like you,” Said the Duck to the Kangaroo. “Please give me a ride on your back,” Said the Duck to the Kangaroo: “I would sit quite still, and say nothing but ‘Quack,’ The whole of the long day through; And we'd go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee, Over the land, and over the sea: Please take me a ride! oh, do!” Said the Duck to the Kangaroo. Said the Kangaroo to the Duck, “This requires some little reflection. Perhaps, on the whole, it might bring me luck: And there seems but one objection; Which is, if you'll let me speak so bold, Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold, And would probably give me the roo Matiz,” said the Kangaroo. Said the Duck, “As I sate on the rocks, I have thought over that completely; And I bought four pairs of worsted socks, Which fit my web feet neatly; And, to keep out the cold, I've bought a cloak; And every day a cigar I'll smoke; All to follow my own dear true Love of a Kangaroo.” Said the Kangaroo, “I'm ready, All in the moonlight pale; But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady, And quite at the end of my tail.” So away they went with a hop and a bound; And they hopped the whole world three times round. And who so happy, oh! who, As the Duck and the Kangaroo?



An Animal Alphabet Anon

Alligator, beetle, porcupine, whale, Bobolink, panther, dragon-fly, snail, Crocodile, monkey, buffalo, hare, Dromedary, leopard, mud-turtle, bear, Elephant, badger, pelican, ox, Flying-fish, reindeer, anaconda, fox, Guinea-pig, dolphin, antelope, goose, Humming-bird, weasel, pickerel, moose, Ibex, rhinoceros, owl, kangaroo, Jackal, opossum, toad, cockatoo, Kingfisher, peacock, anteater, bat, Lizard, ichneumon, honey-bee, rat, Mocking-bird, camel, grasshopper, mouse, Nightingale, spider, cuttle-fish, grouse, Ocelot, pheasant, wolverine, auk, Periwinkle, ermine, katydid, hawk, Quail, hippopotamus, armadillo, moth, Rattlesnake, lion, woodpecker, sloth, Salamander, goldfinch, angleworm, dog, Tiger, flamingo, scorpion, frog, Unicorn, ostrich, nautilus, mole, Viper, gorilla, basilisk, sole, Whippoorwill, beaver, centipede, fawn, Xantho, canary, polliwog, swan, Yellowhammer, eagle, hyena, lark, Zebra, chameleon, butterfly, shark.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Nightingwolf

Paul Matthews

Keep far from yourself the Nightingwolf; she sings and devours. The beauty of her one wild note withers the flowers. Oh never avail the Wolfingale to unfurl his wings. The teeth of his smile in the Linden tree have worried the roots of things.

The Hare

Walter de la Mare

In the black furrow of a field I saw an old witch-hare this night; And she cocked a lissome ear, And she eyed the moon so bright, And she nibbled o' the green; And I whispered, “Wh-s-st! witch-hare,� Away like a ghostie o'er the field She fled, and left the moonlight there.

The Elephant

Hilaire Belloc

When people call the beast to mind, They marvel more and more At such a little tail behind, So large a trunk before.



Toad’s Song

Kenneth Grahame

The world has held great Heroes, As history-books have showed; But never a name to go down to fame Compared with that of Toad! The clever men at Oxford Know all that there is to be knowed. But they none of them know one half as much As intelligent Mr Toad! The animals sat in the Ark and cried, Their tears in torrents flowed. Who was it said, “There's land ahead”? Encouraging Mr Toad! The army all saluted As they marched along the road. Was it the King? Or Kitchener? No. It was Mr Toad. The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting Sat at the window and sewed. She cried, “Look! Who's that HANDSOME man?” They answered, “Mr Toad.” From “The Wind in the Willows.” Sung (loudly) by Toad, after his escape from prison and sundry other inconveniences.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Donkey Riding

Traditional Stow-away Shanty

Were you ever in Québec Stowing timber on the deck? There’s the king with a golden crown Riding on a donkey. Hey, ho, away we go Donkey riding, donkey riding. Hey, ho, away we go Riding on a donkey. Were you ever off Cape Horn Where it’s always fine and warm? And seen the lion and unicorn Riding on a donkey. Hey, ho, away we go Donkey riding, donkey riding. Hey, ho, away we go Riding on a donkey. Were you ever in Cardiff Bay Where the folks all shout, “Hurray!”? Here comes John with his three years’ pay Riding on a donkey. Hey, ho, away we go Donkey riding, donkey riding. Hey, ho, away we go Riding on a donkey.



The Mock Turtle’s Song

Also known as ‘The Lobster Quadrille’ Lewis Carroll

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail, “There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail. See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance! They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance? Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance? Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance? “You can really have no notion how delightful it will be When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!” But the snail replied, “Too far, too far!” and gave a look askance— Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance. “What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied. “There is another shore, you know, upon the other side. The further off from England the nearer is to France— Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance. Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance? Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?” The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes. “You may not have lived much under the sea—” (‘I haven’t,’ said Alice)— “and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster—” (Alice began to say ‘I once tasted—’ but checked herself hastily, and said ‘No, never’) “—so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster Quadrille is!” “No, indeed,” said Alice. “What sort of a dance is it?” “Why,” said the Gryphon, “you first form into a line along the sea-shore—” “Two lines!” cried the Mock Turtle. “Seals, turtles, salmon, and so on; then, when you’ve cleared all the jelly-fish out of the way—” “That generally takes some time,” interrupted the Gryphon. “—you advance twice—”

“Each with a lobster as a partner!” cried the Gryphon. “It must be a very pretty dance,” said Alice timidly. “Would you like to see a little of it?” said the Mock Turtle. “Very much indeed,” said Alice. “Come, let’s try the first figure!” said the Mock Turtle to the Gryphon. “We can do without lobsters, you know. Which shall sing?” “Oh, you sing,” said the Gryphon. “I’ve forgotten the words.” So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their forepaws to mark the time, while the Mock Turtle sang this. —from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Night Clouds

Amy Lowell

The white mares of the moon rush along the sky Beating their golden hoofs upon the glass Heavens; The white mares of the moon are all standing on their hind legs Pawing at the green porcelain doors of the remote Heavens. Fly, Mares! Strain your utmost, Scatter the milky dust of stars, Or the tiger sun will leap upon you and destroy you With one lick of his vermilion tongue.

The Rhyme Of The Chivalrous Shark

Wallace Irwin

Most chivalrous fish of the ocean, To ladies forbearing and mild, Though his record be dark, is the man-eating shark Who will eat neither woman nor child. He dines upon seamen and skippers, And tourists his hunger assuage, And a fresh cabin boy will inspire him with joy If he’s past the maturity age. A doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, He’ll gobble one any fine day, But the ladies, God bless ‘em, he’ll only address ‘em Politely and go on his way. I can readily cite you an instance Where a lovely young lady of Breem, Who was tender and sweet and delicious to eat, Fell into the bay with a scream. She struggled and flounced in the water And signaled in vain for her bark, And she’d surely been drowned if she hadn’t been found By a chivalrous man-eating shark.



He bowed in a manner most polished, Thus soothing her impulses wild; “Don’t be frightened,” he said, “I’ve been properly bred And will eat neither woman nor child.” Then he proffered his fin and she took it — Such a gallantry none can dispute — While the passengers cheered as the vessel they neared And a broadside was fired in salute. And they soon stood alongside the vessel, When a life-saving dingey was lowered With the pick of the crew, and her relatives, too, And the mate and the skipper aboard. So they took her aboard in a jiffy, And the shark stood attention the while, Then he raised on his flipper and ate up the skipper And went on his way with a smile. And this shows that the prince of the ocean, To ladies forebearing and mild, Though his record be dark, is the man-eating shark Who will eat neither woman nor child.

The Kraken

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides: above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot and secret cell Unnumber'd and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green. There hath he lain for ages and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

On the Farm

Pretty Cow

Jane Taylor

Thank you, pretty cow, that made Pleasant milk to soak my bread, Every day, and every night, Warm, and fresh, and sweet, and white. Do not chew the hemlock rank, Growing on the weedy bank; But the yellow cowslips eat, That will make it very sweet. Where the purple violet grows, Where the bubbling water flows, Where the grass is fresh and fine, Pretty cow, go there and dine.

I Meant to Do My Work Today

Richard Le Gallienne

I meant to do my work to-day— But a brown bird sang in the apple-tree, And a butterfly flitted across the field, And all the leaves were calling me. And the wind went sighing over the land, Tossing the grasses to and fro, And a rainbow held out its shining hand— So what could I do but laugh and go?

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Sun Is Up

Eliza Lee Cabot Follen

The sun is up, the sun is up! Sing merrily we, the sun is up. The birds they sing, Upon the wing, Hey, nony nony no. The pigeons coo, The moolies moo, Hey troli-loli lo. The sun is up, the sun is up; Sing merrily we, the sun is up. The horses neigh, The young lambs play, Hey nony nony no. The bees they hum; O, quickly come! Hey, troli-loli lo. The sun is up, the sun is up; Sing merrily we, the sun is up. The morning hours, The dewy flowers, Hey nony nony no, And all we meet Are fresh and sweet, Hey, troli-loli lo. The sun is up, the sun is up; Sing merrily we, the sun is up. Then, sleepy heads, All leave your beds! Hey, nony nony no. For every thing Doth sweetly sing, Hey, troli-loli lo. The sun is up, the sun is up; Sing merrily we, the sun is up.

On the Farm


Milk-White Moon, Put the Cows to Sleep

Carl Sandburg

Milk-white moon, put the cows to sleep. Since five o’clock in the morning, Since they stood up out of the grass, Where they slept on their knees and hocks, They have eaten grass and given their milk And eaten grass again and given milk, And kept their heads and teeth at the earth’s face. Now they are looking at you, milk-white moon. Carelessly as they look at the level landscapes, Carelessly as they look at a pail of new white milk, They are looking at you, wondering not at all, at all, If the moon is the skim face top of a pail of milk, Wondering not at all, carelessly looking. Put the cows to sleep, milk-white moon, Put the cows to sleep.

Spring Work at the Farm

Thirza Wakely

What does the farmer do in the spring? He sows the seed that harvests bring; But first he wakes the earth from sleep By ploughing it well and harrowing deep. And busy must be the farmer’s boy! To care for the lambs that leap for joy. To feed the calves so tender and young He rises as soon as the day’s begun. And then the farmer’s wife so kind, Food for the ducklings and chicks will find. And, hark! what the queer little piggy-wigs say, “Don’t forget me, I’m hungry today.”

On the Farm


The Clocking Hen “Will you take a walk with me, My little wife, to-day? There's barley in the barley-field, And hay-seed in the hay.” “Thank you.” said the clocking hen; “I've something else to do; I'm busy sitting on my eggs, I cannot walk with you.” “Clock, clock, clock, clock,” Said the clocking hen; “My little chicks will soon be hatched, I'll think about it then.” The clocking hen sat on her nest, She made it in the hay; And warm and snug beneath her breast, A dozen white eggs lay. Crack, crack, went all the eggs; Out dropped the chickens small! “Clock,” said the clucking hen, "Now I have you all. “Come along, my little chicks, I'll take a walk with you.” “Hallo!” said the barn-door cock, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

The Browny Hen

Irene F. Fawsey

A browny hen sat on her nest With a hey-ho for the springtime! Seven brown eggs 'neath her downy breast With a hey-ho for the springtime! A brown hen clucks all day from dawn, With a hey-ho for the springtime! She's seven wee chicks as yellow as corn, With a hey-ho for the springtime!

On the Farm


The Hens

Elizabeth Madox Roberts

The night was coming very fast; It reached the gate as I ran past. The pigeons had gone to the tower of the church And all the hens were on their perch, Up in the barn, and I thought I heard A piece of a little purring word. I stopped inside, waiting and staying, To try to hear what the hens were saying. They were asking something, that was plain, Asking it over and over again. One of them moved and turned around, Her feathers made a ruffled sound, A ruffled sound, like a bushful of birds, And she said her little asking words. She pushed her head close into her wing, But nothing answered anything.

The Forest and Wild Places

The Young Lady of Niger


There was a young lady of Niger Who smiled as she rode on a tiger; They returned from the ride With the lady inside, And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Wild Creatures

Molly de Havas

If in the wood still and quiet you'll be, All of these animals there you will see. Little brown eyes and quick scampering feet, Fieldmouse is looking for something to eat. Rabbits are playing about on the grass Flashing their fluffy white tails as they pass. Fox slips by silently, urgent and keen; Sharp musty smell marks the place where he's been. Squirrels will chatter and leap as they race; Each hides his nuts in his own secret place. Hedgehog runs fast or curls up like a ball; Prickles protect him from enemies all. Mole with pink fingers is digging the ground, Throwing up earth in a small tidy mound. Spiders their webs on the brambles will spread, Flies to entrap with their strong sticky thread. Woodlouse and centipede, ladybird, see, Beetle and ant, and a fat bumble bee. Bright eyes and patience you need, it is true, To watch all these creatures and learn what they do.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Farewell “It’s growing late,” said the honey bee, Winter’s no weather for me, I’ll hurry away to the hive.” “It’s growing late,” said the bustling fly, There’s going to be plenty of snow by-and-by, And how will a poor fly thrive?” The cricket piped, “The season is old, Leaves and grasses are turning to gold; It’s a queer world that changes so. My chirp has lost its musical tones, And the north wind bites to my very bones, I think I had better go.” The squirrel said, “It is growing chill, The wind-falls have gone to the cider mill, But there’s many a chestnut burr Ready to burst at the frost's first touch, If snow flies soon I shan’t mind much, Wrapped in my thickening fur.” “The best of the year,” trilled the lingering thrush, “Has left us behind; there’s a tender hush Brooding o’er meadow and dell. Our nests are all empty, our birdlings are flown, There is nothing to keep us at home, I must own; There’s nothing to sing but ‘Farewell.’”

The Forest and Wild Places

The Brown Bear

Mary Austin

Now the wild bees that hive in the rocks Are winding their horns, elfin shrill, And hark, at the pine tree the woodpecker knocks, And the speckled grouse pipes on the hill. Now the adder’s dull brood wakes to run, Now the sap mounts abundant and good, And the brown bear has turned his side to the sun In his lair in the depth of the wood— Old Honey-Paw wakes in the wood. “Oh, a little more slumber,” says he, “And a little more turning to sleep,” But he feels the spring fervor that hurries the bee And the hunger that makes the trout leap; So he ambles by thicket and trail, So he noses the tender young shoots, In the spring of the year at the sign of the quail The brown bear goes digging for roots— For sappy and succulent roots. Oh, as still goes the wolf on his quest, As the spotted snake glides through the rocks, And the deer and the sheep count the lightest foot best, And slinking and sly trots the fox. But fleet-foot and light-foot will stay, And fawns by their mothers will quail At the saplings that snap and the thickets that sway When Honey-Paw takes to the trail— When he shuffles and grunts on the trail. He has gathered the ground squirrel’s board, He has rifled the store of the bees, He has caught the young trout at the shoals of the ford And stripped the wild plums from the trees; So robbing and ranging he goes, And the right to his pillage makes good Till he rounds out the year at the first of the snows In his lair in the depth of the wood— Old Honey-Paw sleeps in the wood.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Chief and King of All the Beavers

from ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Over rock and over river, Through bush, and brake, and forest, Ran the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis; Like an antelope he bounded, Till he came unto a streamlet In the middle of the forest, To a streamlet still and tranquil, That had overflowed its margin, To a dam made by the beavers, To a pond of quiet water, Where knee-deep the trees were standing, Where the water lilies floated, Where the rushes waved and whispered. On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, On the dam of trunks and branches, Through whose chinks the water spouted, O'er whose summit flowed the streamlet. From the bottom rose the beaver, Looked with two great eyes of wonder, Eyes that seemed to ask a question, At the stranger, Pau-Puk-Keewis. On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, O'er his ankles flowed the streamlet, Flowed the bright and silvery water, And he spake unto the beaver, With a smile he spake in this wise: "O my friend Ahmeek, the beaver, Cool and pleasant is the water; Let me dive into the water, Let me rest there in your lodges; Change me, too, into a beaver!" Cautiously replied the beaver, With reserve he thus made answer: "Let me first consult the others, Let me ask the other beavers." Down he sank into the water, Heavily sank he, as a stone sinks, Down among the leaves and branches, Brown and matted at the bottom.

The Forest and Wild Places

On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, O'er his ankles flowed the streamlet, Spouted through the chinks below him, Dashed upon the stones beneath him, Spread serene and calm before him, And the sunshine and the shadows Fell in flecks and gleams upon him, Fell in little shining patches, Through the waving, rustling branches. From the bottom rose the beavers, Silently above the surface Rose one head and then another, Till the pond seemed full of beavers, Full of black and shining faces. To the beavers Pau-Puk-Keewis Spake entreating, said in this wise: "Very pleasant is your dwelling, O my friends! and safe from danger; Can you not, with all your cunning, All your wisdom and contrivance, Change me, too, into a beaver?" "Yes!" replied Ahmeek, the beaver, He the King of all the beavers, "Let yourself slide down among us, Down into the tranquil water." Down into the pond among them Silently sank Pau-Puk-Keewis; Black became his shirt of deer-skin, Black his moccasins and leggings, In a broad black tail behind him Spread his fox-tails and his fringes; He was changed into a beaver. "Make me large," said Pau-Puk-Keewis, "Make me large and make me larger, Larger than the other beavers." "Yes," the beaver chief responded, "When our lodge below you enter, In our wigwam we will make you Ten times larger than the others."



The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

Thus into the clear, brown water Silently sank Pau-Puk-Keewis: Found the bottom covered over With the trunks of trees and branches, Hoards of food against the winter, Piles and heaps against the famine; Found the lodge with arching doorway, Leading into spacious chambers. Here they made him large and larger, Made him largest of the beavers, Ten times larger than the others. "You shall be our ruler," said they; "Chief and King of all the beavers."

The Forest and Wild Places

The Ballad of Saint Athracta’s Stags

Abbie Farwell Brown

Athracta was a maiden fair, A Prince's daughter she; Down to her feet fell golden hair, A wondrous sight to see. And all amid this golden shower, The sweetest rosebud face Blossomed like a dew-fed flower Upon a stem of grace. Yet loved she not the court of kings, But in the wild would be, With but one maid her hair to braid And bear her company. So, near Lough Cara's silver sheen, They built of turf and bark A hut wherein from springtide green They dwelt through winter's dark. On seven cross-roads the hut was made, That they might offer rest To pilgrims by the night waylaid, And strangers hunger-pressed. To draw them water from the lake, To till their little soil, Two ancient horses did they take, Outworn for other toil. Once gallant chargers these had been, Keen-eyed and prancing gay, Who tourneys brave and wars had seen, All decked in bright array. But now their age in peace was spent By kind Athracta's side; No gallant wars, no tournament, And yet they served with pride. Their neighbors in the forest glades Were stately, antlered deer, Nor of the two most holy maids Had these, their brothers, fear.



The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

So dwelt the maidens there alone For many months and years, The doings of the world unknown, Its wars, its woes, its tears. But strife was stirring in the land, And kings must castles build, To guard them from the foeman's hand With fire and weapon filled. And so the King's most stern decree Went forth upon a day,— “My serfs must build a fort for me, Each must his service pay. “Each man and maiden must fulfill In this great work his share; It is the King of Connaught's will, Let tardy hands beware!” Athracta sent unto the King: “We be but maidens twain, My Liege, we cannot do this thing, I beg we may refrain.” But sternly sent he back the word,— “Ye maids must do your part.” He was a hard and cruel lord, No pity touched his heart. So forth they fared into the wood, Athracta with her maid, To fell the timber as they could, Without of men for aid. Heavy the axe and full of pain Each weak and skill-less stroke, Yet strove the maids again, again, With walnut, beech, and oak. Until upon the wagon cast By which the horses stood, Their bleeding hands had piled at last The goodly logs of wood.

The Forest and Wild Places

But when Athracta saw the steeds Straining with feeble will To draw the heavy load, it needs Must make her eyes to fill. Athracta spoke all piteously,— “Alack! poor broken things, Must you, too, bear your painful share To save the pride of Kings? “How can I ease your burden, how, My faithful servants still? My little hands are bleeding now With toil beyond their skill.” “O mistress dear,” then spoke her maid, “These be but feeble nags; How would the King's pride be dismayed If you could harness Stags!” “Thou sayest well,” Athracta vowed. “Come hither, Stags!” she cried, And lo! the thud of hoofs grew loud Ere yet the echo died. “Come hither, Stags!” O'er green and glade The silver summons thrilled, And soon the space about the maid With antlered kings was filled. Through moss and fern and tangled trees Twelve panting creatures broke, And bending low their stately knees They knelt beneath the yoke. Now harnessed in the horses’ stead The great Stags strained their best, To please the Lady at their head And follow her behest. But lo! a vexing thing then happed; Scarce had they gained the road, The rusty chains of iron snapped Beneath the heavy load.



The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

Yet paused she not in weak despair, This noble-hearted maid, But loosed her heavy golden hair Out from its double braid. She loosed her locks so wonder-bright And shook them to the breeze;— It seemed a beam of yellow light Had sifted through the trees. Then from amid this golden net She plucked some silken strands, And where the chains had first been set She bound them with her hands. She tied the ends against the strain, And knotted them with care, Then bade the Stags pull once again Upon the ropes of hair. And lo! the slender harness held, And lo! the antlered steeds Went forth to prove their generous love Lent to a maiden's needs. Straight to the King her gift they bore To fill his heart with shame; And her true maiden went before To show him whence they came. Now when the King this wonder saw He turned all pale and red, “She hath a greater power than law,” He vowed, and bowed his head. “She hath a greater power than I, Whose slaves the wild stags be, And golden hair like this might snare E’en the wild heart of me. “No need to her of castles stout, No need of moat or tower, With antlered guardians about Her lonely wild-wood bower.

The Forest and Wild Places

“No need to her of watch or ward, With friends like these at hand; Bid her from me henceforth to be Queen of her little land. “Henceforth she is no serf of mine, Nor subject to my throne; Where’er her golden hair may shine That is her realm alone.” So where the seven cross-roads met Still dwelt the holy maid, Her hut a place of refuge set For all who shelter prayed. Her realm a holy place of peace, Where, with the ancient nags, Lived out their days in pleasant ways Athracta's faithful Stags.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Polar Bear

William Jay Smith

The Polar Bear never makes his bed; He sleeps on a cake of ice instead. He has no blanket, no quilt, no sheet Except the rain and snow and sleet. He drifts about on a white ice floe While cold winds howl and blizzards blow And the temperature drops to forty below. The Polar Bear never makes his bed; The blanket he pulls up over his head Is lined with soft and feathery snow. If ever he rose and turned on the light, He would find a world of bathtub white, And icebergs floating through the night.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Old Man Platypus

Banjo Paterson

Far from the trouble and toil of town, Where the reed beds sweep and shiver, Look at a fragment of velvet brown– Old Man Platypus drifting down, Drifting along the river. And he plays and dives in the river bends In a style that is most elusive; With few relations and fewer friends, For Old Man Platypus descends From a family most exclusive. He shares his burrow beneath the bank With his wife and his son and daughter At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank; And the bubbles show where our hero sank To its entrance under water. Safe in their burrow below the falls They live in a world of wonder, Where no one visits and no one calls, They sleep like little brown billiard balls With their beaks tucked neatly under. And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl As he goes on his journey lonely; For he’s no relation to fish nor fowl, Nor to bird nor beast, nor to horned owl; In fact, he’s the one and only!

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Prairie-Dog Town

Mary Hunter Austin

Old Peter Prairie-Dog Builds him a house In Prairie-Dog Town, With a door that goes down And down and down, And a hall that goes under And under and under, Where you can't see the lightning, You can't hear the thunder, For they don't like thunder In Prairie-Dog Town. Old Peter Prairie-Dog Digs him a cellar In Prairie-Dog Town, With a ceiling that is arched And a wall that is round, And the earth he takes out He makes into a mound. And the hall and the cellar Are dark as dark, And you can't see a spark, Not a single spark; And the way to them cannot be found. Old Peter Prairie-Dog Knows a very clever trick Of behaving like a stick When he hears a sudden sound, Like an old dead stick; And when you turn your head He'll jump quick, quick, And be another stick When you look around. It is a clever trick, And it keeps him safe and sound In the cellar and the halls That are under the mound In Prairie-Dog Town.

Story Poems

This Is the House That Jack Built

Mother Goose

This is the house that Jack built. This is the malt That lay in the house that Jack built. This is the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built. This is the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry This is the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn, That tossed the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.

Story Poems


This is the maiden all forlorn, That milked the cow with the crumpled horn, That tossed the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn, That kissed the maiden all forlorn, That milked the cow with the crumpled horn, That tossed the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built. This is the priest all shaven and shorn, That married the man all tattered and torn, That kissed the maiden all forlorn, That milked the cow with the crumpled horn, That tossed the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

This is the cock that crowed in the morn, That waked the priest all shaven and shorn, That married the man all tattered and torn, That kissed the maiden all forlorn, That milked the cow with the crumpled horn, That tossed the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing his corn, That kept the cock that crowed in the morn, That waked the priest all shaven and shorn, That married the man all tattered and torn, That kissed the maiden all forlorn, That milked the cow with the crumpled horn, That tossed the dog, That worried the cat, That killed the rat, That ate the malt That lay in the house that Jack built.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

The Story of the Three Bears There were once three bears, who lived in a wood, Their porridge was thick, and their chairs and beds good. The biggest bear, Bruin, was surly and rough; His wife, Mrs. Bruin, was called Mammy Muff. Their son, Tiny-cub, was like Dame Goose’s lad; He was not very good, nor yet very bad. Now Bruin, the biggest—the surly old bear— Had a great granite bowl, and a cast-iron chair. Mammy Muffs bowl and chair you would no doubt prefer— They were both made of brick-bats, but both suited her. Young Tiny-cub’s bowl, chair, and bed were the best,— This, big bears and baby bears freely confessed. Mr. Bruin, with his wife and his son, went one day To take a short stroll, and a visit to pay. He left the door open, “For,” said he, “no doubt If our friend should call in, he will find us all out.” It was only two miles from dark Hazel-nut Wood, In which the great house of the three Bruins stood, That there lived a young miss, daring, funny, and fair, And from having bright curls, she was called Goldenhair. She had roamed through the wood to see what she could see, And she saw going walking the Bruins all three. Said she to herself, “To rob bears is no sin; The three bears have gone out, so I think I’ll go in.” She entered their parlor, and she saw a great bowl, And in it a spoon like a hair-cutter’s pole. “That porridge,” said she “may stay long enough there, It tastes like the food of the surly old bear,” She tried Mammy Muff ’s, and she said, “Mrs. B, I think your taste and my taste will never agree.” Then she tried Tiny-Cub’s bowl, and said, “This is nice; I will put in some salt, and of bread a thick slice.” The porridge she ate soon made her so great, The chair that she sat on broke down with her weight; The bottom fell out, and she cried in dismay, “This is Tiny-cub’s chair, and oh, what will he say? His papa is, I know, the most savage of bears,— His mamma is a fury; but for her who cares? I’m sure I do not; and then, as for her son, That young bear, Tiny-cub—from him shall I run? No, not I, indeed; but I will not sit here— I shall next break the floor through—that’s what I most fear;”

Story Poems

So up-stairs she ran, and there three beds she found She looked under each one, and she looked all around; But no one she saw, so she got into bed— It was surly old Bruin’s, and well stuffed with lead. Mammy Muffs next she tried; it was stuffed with round stones, So she got into Tiny-cub’s and rested her bones. Goldenhair was asleep when the three bears came in. Said Big Bruin, “I’m hungry—to eat, let’s begin— Who has been to my porridge?” he roared with such might; His voice was like wind down the chimney at night. "Who has been to my porridge?” growled out Mrs. B; Her voice was like cats fighting up in a tree. “Who has been to my porridge and eaten it all?” Young Tiny-cub said, in a voice very small, “Who has been sitting in my great arm chair?” In voice like a thunder-storm, roared the big bear. “Who has been sitting in my good arm chair?” Growled out Mammy Muff, like a sow in despair. “Who has sat in my nice chair, and broken it down?” Young Tiny-cub said, and so fierce was his frown, That his mother with pride to his father said, “There! See our pet Tiny-cub can look just like a bear,” So roaring, and growling, and frowning, the bears, One after the other, came running up-stairs.



The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

“Who has been upon my bed?” old Bruin roared out, In a voice just like rain down a large water-spout. “Who has been upon my bed?” growled out Mammy Muff, In a voice like her husband’s, but not quite so rough. "Who is lying on my bed?” said young Tiny-Cub, In a voice like hot water poured into a tub. And Tiny-cub’s breath was so hot as he spoke, That Goldenhair dreamt of hot water, and woke. She opened her eyes, and she saw the three bears, And said, “Let me go, please, I’ll soon run down stairs.” But big Bruin was angry, and shouted out, “No! You had no right to come hither, and now you shan’t go. What we mean to do with you, ere long you shall find; You can lie there and cry till I make up my mind.” To Mammy and Tiny then did big Bruin roar, “Go and block up the chimney and nail up the door; This Goldenhair now has got into a scrape, And if I can help it, she shall not escape.” But Goldenhair saw that a window was there, (It was always kept open to let in fresh air), So she jumped out of bed—to the window she ran, Saying “Three bears, good-bye! Catch me now if you can!” To the window the bears ran as fast as they could, But Goldenhair flew like the wind through the wood. She said the bears’ breath had filled her with steam, But when she grew older she said ’twas a dream, And no doubt she was right to take such a view; Still, some part of the story is certainly true, For unto this day there is no one who dares, To say that there never existed THREE BEARS.

Insects, Frogs, Snakes & Snails

The Snail House I saw a little snail house Upon a garden wall. I tapped upon his little door But no one came at all. Then as I turned to go, A snail crept out to see Who tapped upon his little door, And waved his horns at me.

The Butterbean Tent

Elizabeth Madox Roberts

All through the garden I went and went, And I walked in under the butterbean tent. The poles leaned up like a good tepee And made a nice little house for me. I had a hard brown clod for a seat, And all outside was a cool green street. A little green worm and a butterfly And a cricket-like thing that could hop went by. Hidden away there were flocks and flocks Of bugs that could go like little clocks. Such a good day it was when I spent A long, long while in the butterbean tent.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Snail

William Cowper

To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall, The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall, As if he grew there, house and all Together. Within that house secure he hides, When danger imminent betides, Of storm, or other harm besides Of weather. Give but his horns the slightest touch, His self-collecting power is such, He shrinks into his house with much Displeasure. Where'er he dwells, he dwells alone, Except himself, has chattels none, Well satisfied to be his own Whole treasure. Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads, Nor partner of his banquet needs, And if he meets one, only feeds The faster. Who seeks him must be worse than blind, (He and his house are so combin’d), If, finding it, he fails to find Its master.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Croak! “Croak!” said the Toad, “I'm hungry, I think; Today I've had nothing to eat or to drink; I'll crawl to a garden and jump through the pales, And there I'll dine nicely on slugs and on snails.” “Ho, ho!” quoth the frog, "Is that what you mean? Then I'll hop away to the next meadow stream; There I will drink, and eat worms and slugs too, And then I shall have a good dinner like you.” pale: fence

Twenty Froggies

George Cooper

Twenty froggies went to school Down beside a rushy pool; Twenty little coats of green, Twenty vests all white and clean. “We must be in time,” said they. “First we study, then we play; That is how we keep the rule, When we froggies go to school.” Master Bullfrog, brave and stern, Called the classes in their turn; Taught them how to nobly strive, Also how to leap and dive. Taught them how to dodge a blow From the sticks that bad boys throw. Twenty froggies grew up fast, Bull-frogs they became at last. Polished in a high degree, As each froggie ought to be, Now they sit on other logs, Teaching other little frogs.

Insects, Frogs, Snakes & Snails

The Tadpole

Elizabeth Gould

Underneath the water-weeds Small and black, I wriggle, And life is most surprising! Wiggle! waggle! wiggle! There's every now and then a most Exciting change in me, I wonder, wiggle! waggle! What I shall turn out to be!

Tree Toad A tree toad loved a she-toad Who lived up in a tree. He was a two-toed tree toad But a three-toed toad was she. The two-toed tree toad tried to win The three-toed she-toad’s heart, For the two-toed tree toad loved the ground That the three-toed tree toad trod. But the two-toed tree toad tried in vain. He couldn’t please her whim. From her tree toad bower With her three-toed power The she-toad vetoed him.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


An Explanation of the Grasshopper

Vachel Lindsay

The Grasshopper, the grasshopper, I will explain to you:— He is the Brownies' racehorse, The fairies' Kangaroo.

Grasshoppers Three Grasshoppers three a-fiddling went, Hey-ho, never be still! They paid no money t'ward their rent But all day long with elbow bent, They fiddled a tune called “Rill-a-bee, Rill-a-bee” Fiddled a tune called “Rill-a-bee-rill.”

Grasshopper Green Grasshopper Green is a comical chap; He lives on the best of fare. Bright little trousers, jacket and cap, These are his summer wear. Out in the meadow he loves to go, Playing away in the sun; It’s hopperty, skipperty, high and low— Summer’s the time for fun. Grasshopper Green has a quaint little house: It’s under the hedgerow gay. Grandmother Spider, as still as a mouse, Watches him over the way. Gladly he’s calling the children, I know, Out in the beautiful sun; It’s hopperty, skipperty, high and low— Summer’s the time for fun.

Insects, Frogs, Snakes & Snails

On the Grasshopper and Cricket

John Keats

The poetry of earth is never dead: When all the birds are faint with the hot sun, And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead; That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead In summer luxury,—he has never done With his delights; for when tired out with fun He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed. The poetry of earth is ceasing never: On a lone winter evening, when the frost Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever, And seems to one in drowsiness half lost, The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

To the Grasshopper and the Cricket

Leigh Hunt

Green little vaulter in the sunny grass, Catching your heart up at the feel of June, Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon, When e’en the bees lag at the summoning brass; And you, warm little housekeeper, who class With those who think the candles come too soon, Loving the fire; and with your tricksome tune Nick the glad silent moments as they pass; Oh sweet and tiny cousins, that belong, One to the fields, the other to the hearth, Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song— In doors and out, summer and winter,—Mirth.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Bees’ Song

Edward Lear

Thousandz of thornz there be On the Rozez where gozez The Zebra of Zee: Sleek, striped, and hairy, The steed of the Fairy Princess of Zee. Heavy with blossomz be The Rozez that growzez In the thickets of Zee. Where grazez the Zebra, Marked Abracadeeebra, Of the Princess of Zee. And he nozez that poziez Of the Rozez that grozez So luvez'm and free, With an eye, dark and wary, In search of a Fairy, Whose Rozez he knowzez Were not honeyed for he, But to breathe a sweet incense To solace the Princess Of far-away Zee.

How Doth the Little Busy Bee

Isaac Watts

How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour, And gather honey all the day From every passing flower! How skillfully she builds her cell! How neat she spreads the wax! And labours hard to store it well With the sweet food she makes.

Insects, Frogs, Snakes & Snails

The Queen Bee

Mary K. Robinson

When I was in the garden, I saw a great Queen Bee; She was the very largest one That I did ever see. She wore a shiny helmet and a lovely velvet gown, But I was rather sad, because She didn’t wear a crown.

Browny Bee

Irene F. Pawsey

Little Mr. Browny Bee, Gather honey for my tea; Come into my garden, do, I've every kind of flower for you. There's blossom on my tiny tree, And daisies in the grass you'll see; There's lavender, and scented stocks, And rows of frilly hollyhocks. I've marigolds, and pansies too, And Canterbury-bells of blue; There's rosemary, and scented thyme, And foxglove heads you'll love to climb. I've gilly-flowers, and roses red, All waiting in my garden bed; Seek honey where my flowers are To fill my little honey-jar.


Insects, Frogs, Snakes & Snails

Try Again

Eliza Cook

King Bruce of Scotland flung himself down In a lonely mood to think; 'Tis true he was monarch, and wore a crown, But his heart was beginning to sink. For he had been trying to do a great deed, To make his people glad; He had tried and tried, but couldn't succeed; And so he became quite sad. He flung himself down in low despair, As grieved as man could be; And after a while as he pondered there, “I'll give it all up,” said he. Now just at the moment, a spider dropped, With its silken, filmy clue, And the King, in the midst of his thinking, stopped To see what the spider would do. 'Twas a long way up to the ceiling dome And it hung by a rope so fine; That how it would get to its cobweb home. King Bruce could not divine. It soon began to cling and crawl Straight up with strong endeavour; But down it came with a slippery sprawl, As near to the ground as ever. Up, up it ran, not a second to stay, To utter the least complaint; Till it fell still lower, and there it lay, A little dizzy and faint. Its head grew steady—again it went, And travelled a half yard higher; 'Twas a delicate thread it had to tread, And a road where its feet would tire. Again it fell and swung below, But again it quickly mounted; Till up and down, now fast, now slow, Nine brave attempts were counted.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


“Sure,” cried the King, “that foolish thing 'Will strive no more to climb; When it toils so hard to reach and cling, And tumbles every time.” But up the insect went once more. Ah me! 'tis an anxious minute; He's only a foot from his cobweb door, Oh, say will he lose or win it? Steadily, steadily, inch by inch, Higher and higher he got; And a bold, little run at the very last pinch Put him into his native cot. “Bravo, bravo!” the King cried out, “All honour to those who try; The spider up there, defied despair; He conquered, and why shouldn't I?” And Bruce of Scotland braced his mind, And gossips tell the tale, That he tried once more as he tried before, And that time did not fail.

Robert Bruce wished to be king of Scotland, and several other persons wished also to be king. There can be but one king at once in a country, and the friends of the different men who then desired to be king fell to fighting and killing one another. While this was going on, Robert Bruce was often obliged to bide himself; some times in the woods, and sometimes in poor huts, for his enemies determined to kill him if they could find him. Once, when he lay in such a hut upon a bundle of straw, he began to fear that he never could be king, and he felt very much grieved not to succeed in his purpose. While he lay thus discouraged, looking upward to the beams of the hut, he saw a spider trying to reach the roof.

The spider immediately fell to the ground; but he tried once more to ascend, and then fell again. He did this several times, but, at last, climbed to the top of the beam. Bruce saw the perseverance of the little insect, and concluded that if a creature so small could try again so successfully, he. sorely, being a man, might yet by exertion become king of Scotland. Robert Bruce smiled, and sat up. He threw off his despair and grief, and determined to set out for Scotland again and continue his fight against the English. He fought against the English for the next eight years, defeating them and finally driving them out of Scotland in 1314, at the Battle of Bannockburn. and afterwards was made king. He reigned to the end of his days. -Miss Eliza Robbins from the ‘Class Book of Poetry.’

Fish The Sea Horse See the sea horse in the sea. Where else would the sea horse be? For though it’s dainty as a wish, The sea horse is, you see, a fish.

The Dolphin

Oliver Herford

The Dolphin was, if you should wish To call him so,— the King of Fish. Though having neither gills nor scales, His title should be Prince of Whales. While too small waisted to provide A Jonah with a Berth Inside, The Dolphin has been known to pack A Drowning Sailor on his back And bear him safely into port,— He was a Taxi-whale, in short.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry



Winifred Welles

Last night I saw you in the sky. I watched you jumping from so high, Falling so far it made me cry. I said that star will be so hurt, Cut on the stones and buried in dirt, He'll wish he had not been so pert, So pround, so sure. I said no star Should take such chances, it's too far, Even for stars. Yet here you are, Quietly curling. You are found Upon this soft and sandy mound, Cooled by the spray, all safe and sound. And not one point in all your five Is even nicked; you sprawl alive, Not even dented by your dive. Brave Star, I hope that you will lie Lazily here and never try To jump back up into the sky.

Sonnet to a Clam

(Dum tacent claimant) John Godfrey Saxe

Inglorious friend! most confident I am Thy life is one of very little ease; Albeit men mock thee with their similes And prate of being "happy as a clam!" What though thy shell protects thy fragile head From the sharp bailiffs of the briny sea? Thy valves are, sure, no safety-valves to thee, While rakes are free to desecrate thy bed, And bear thee off—as foemen take their spoil— Far from thy friends and family to roam; Forced, like a Hessian, from thy native home, To meet destruction in a foreign broil! Though thou art tender yet thy humble bard Declares, O clam! thy case is shocking hard!



We Fish

Herman Melville

We fish, we fish, we merrily swim, We care not for friend nor for foe. Our fins are stout, Our tails are out, As through the seas we go. Fish, Fish, we are fish with red gills; Naught disturbs us, our blood is at zero: We are buoyant because of our bags, Being many, each fish is a hero. We care not what is it, this life That we follow, this phantom unknown; To swim, it’s exceedingly pleasant,— So swim away, making a foam. This strange looking thing by our side, Not for safety, around it we flee:— Its shadow’s so shady, that’s all,— We only swim under its lee. And as for the eels there above, And as for the fowls of the air, We care not for them nor their ways, As we cheerily glide afar! We fish, we fish, we merrily swim, We care not for friend nor for foe: Our fins are stout, Our tails are out, As through the seas we go.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Seal Lullaby

Rudyard Kipling

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us, And black are the waters that sparkled so green. The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us At rest in the hollows that rustle between. Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow; Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease! The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee, Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.


William Jay Smith

See how he dives From the rocks with a zoom! See how he darts Through his watery room Past crabs and eels And green seaweed, Past fluffs of sandy Minnow feed! See how he swims With a swerve and a twist, A flip of the flipper, A flick of the wrist! Quicksilver-quick, Softer than spray, Down he plunges And sweeps away; Before you can think, Before you can utter Words like “Dill pickle” Or “Apple butter,” Back up he swims Past Sting Ray and Shark, Out with a zoom, A whoop, a bark; Before you can say Whatever you wish, He plops at your side With a mouthful of fish!


Birds The Birds’ Picnic The birds gave a picnic, the morning was fine, They all came in couples, to chat and to dine; Miss Robin, Miss Wren, and the two Misses Jay, Were dressed in a manner decidedly gay. And Bluebird, who looks like a handful of sky, Dropped in with her spouse as the morning wore by; The yellow birds, too, wee bundles of sun, With the brave chickadees, came along to the fun. Miss Phoebe was there, in her prim suit of brown, In fact, all the birds in the fair leafy town; The neighbors, of course, were politely invited, Not even the ants and the crickets were slighted. The grasshoppers came—some in gray, some in green, And covered with dust, hardly fit to be seen; Miss Miller flew in, with her gown white as milk; And Ladybug flourished a new crimson silk. The bees turned out lively, the young and the old, And proud as could be, in their spencers of gold; But Miss Caterpillar, how funny of her, She hurried along in her mantle of fur! There were big bugs in plenty, and gnats great and small— A very hard matter to mention them all; And what did they do? Why they sported and sang, Till all the green wood with their melody rang. Whoe'er gave a picnic so grand and so gay? They hadn't a shower, I'm happy to say. And when the sun fell, like a cherry-ripe red, The fire-flies lighted them all home to bed.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


Bird’s Nests The skylark's nest among the grass And waving corn is found; The robin's on a shady bank, With oak-leaves strewed around. The wren builds in an ivied thorn Or old and ruined wall; The mossy nest, so covered in, You scarce can see at all. The martins build their nests of clay In rows beneath the eaves; The silvery lichens, moss, and hair The chaffinch interweaves. The cuckoo makes no nest at all, But through the wood she strays Until she finds one snug and warm, And there her eggs she lays. The sparrow has a nest of hay, With feathers warmly lined; The ring-dove's careless nest of sticks On lofty trees we find. Rooks build together in a wood, And often disagree; The owl will build inside a barn Or in a hollow tree. The blackbird's nest of grass and mud In bush and bank is found; The lapwing's darkly-spotted eggs Are laid upon the ground. The magpie's nest is made with thorns In leafless tree or hedge; The wild-duck and the water-hen Build by the water's edge. Birds build their nests from year to year According to their kind— Some very neat and beautiful; Some simpler ones we find.



The Stork

Molly de Havas

I lift my leg, I stretch my leg, I plant it firm and light. I lift again, and stretch again, My pace exactly right. With care I go, so grand and slow, I move just like a stork; My eye is bright, my head upright, And pride is in my walk.

The Parrot Anon

I am the pirate’s parrot, I sail the seven seas And sleep inside the crow’s nest Don’t look for me in trees. I am the pirate’s parrot, A bird both brave and bold. I guard the captain’s treasure And count his hoard of gold.


Oliver Herford

The Pen-guin sits up-on the shore And loves the lit-tle fish to bore; He has one en-er-vat-ing joke That would a very Saint provoke: “The Pen-guin's might-i-er than the Sword-fish.” He tells this dai-ly to the bored fish, Un-til they are so weak, they float With-out re-sis-tance down his throat.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Sandpiper

Celia Thaxter

Across the lonely beach we flit, One little sandpiper and I; And fast I gather, bit by bit, The scattered drift-wood bleached and dry. The wild waves reach their hands for it, The wild wind raves, the tide runs high, As up and down the beach we flit, — One little sandpiper and I. Above our heads the sullen clouds Scud black and swift across the sky; Like silent ghosts in misty shrouds Stand out the white lighthouses high. Almost as far as eye can reach I see the close-reefed vessels fly, As fast we flit along the beach, — One little sandpiper and I. I watch him as he skims along, Uttering his sweet and mournful cry; He starts not at my fitful song, Nor flash of fluttering drapery. He has no thought of any wrong; He scans me with a fearless eye; Stanch friends are we, well tried and strong, The little sandpiper and I. Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night, When the loosed storm breaks furiously? My driftwood fire will burn so bright! To what warm shelter canst thou fly? I do not fear for thee, though wroth The tempest rushes through the sky; For are we not God's children both, Thou, little sandpiper, and I?

When Celia Thaxter was only five years old, her father was made the keeper of a lighthouse on one of the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire. It was a lonely life for a little girl. Her only playmates were the seagulls and sandpipers and the strange sea-creatures she found on the shore. They were her friends and she grew to love and understand them. The beach was her favorite playground. She loved to watch the long waves rolling in on the shore, the rainbow colors as the sun shone on the spray, and the heavy, white-crested breakers crashing on the rocks during a storm. She was so contented there that years later,. when she married and lived on the mainland among many friends, she liked to come back often to the island where she had been a happy little girl.



The Stork and the Kangaroo

Arthur J. Burdick

Said a stork to a kangaroo: “I must be related to you. A resemblance I see Betwixt you and me, That leads me to think it really must be,” Said the stork to the kangaroo. To the stork, said the kangaroo: “What you say perhaps may be true. I've really no doubt That by searching about, Some far away kinship we might ferret out,” To the stork, said the kangaroo. Said the stork to the kangaroo: “I think it is fun, do not you? To mount to the sky,— For you surely can fly If we are related.” “Oh, no, sir! not I,” To the stork, said the kangaroo. “No, not I,” said the kangaroo. “I have often tried, it is true; But on earth I still stop, For I've no wings to flop, And when I endeavor to fly, I just hop,” To the stork, said the kangaroo.

The Woodpecker

Elizabeth Madox Roberts

The woodpecker pecked out a little round hole And made him a house in the telephone pole. One day when I watched he poked out his head, And he had on a hood and a collar of red. When the streams of rain pour out of the sky, And the sparkles of lightning go flashing by, And the big, big wheels of thunder roll, He can snuggle back in the telephone pole.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Sand-hill Crane

Mary Austin

Whenever the days are cool and clear, The sand-hill crane goes walking Across the field by the flashing weir, Slowly, solemnly stalking. The little frogs in the tules hear, And jump for their lives if he comes near; The fishes scuttle away in fear When the sand-hill crane goes walking. The field folk know if he comes that way, Slowly, solemnly stalking, There is danger and death in the least delay, When the sand-hill crane goes walking. The chipmunks stop in the midst of play; The gophers hide in their holes away; And "Hush, oh, hush!" the field-mice say, When the sand-hill crane goes walking.



The Owl

Molly de Havas

When night is falling in the wood, The Owl wakes up and cries, “Tu-whoo! Dear children, you must go to bed, Your day is done, Goodnight to you. For me the darkness is the day, And I must hunt the whole night through To feed my hungry owlets, till At dawn we sleep, Tu-whit, Tu-whoo!�

January - The Owl What songster wakens when across the snows The New Year enters at the midnight still? A dark form flits from out the leafless boughs, The Owl waits for a greeting wild and shrill.

A Wise Old Owl

English Nursery Rhyme

A wise old owl lived in an oak, The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard; Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

Three Little Owls There were three little owls in a wood Who sang hymns whenever they could; What the words were about One could never make out, But one felt it was doing them good.


The Mouse

Elizabeth Coatsworth

I heard a mouse Bitterly complaining In a crack of moonlight Aslant on the floor— “Little I ask And that little is not granted. There are few crumbs In this world any more. “The breadbox is tin And I cannot get in. “The jam's in a jar My teeth cannot mar. “The cheese sits by itself On the pantry shelf— “All night I run Searching and seeking, All night I run About on the floor, “Moonlight is there And a bare place for dancing, But no little feast Is spread any more.”

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


An Old Rat’s Tale

Laura E. Richards

He was a rat, and she was a rat, And down in one hole they did dwell. And each was as black as a witch’s cat, And they loved one another well. He had a tail, and she had a tail, Both long and curling and fine. And each said, “Yours is the finest tail In the world, excepting mine!” He smelt the cheese, and she smelt the cheese, And they both pronounced it good; And both remarked it would greatly add To the charm of their daily food. So he ventured out and she ventured out; And I saw them go with pain. But what them befell I never can tell, For they never came back again.

Three Little Mice Three little mice walked into town, Their coats were grey and their eyes were brown. Three little mice went down the street With woolen slippers upon their feet. Three little mice sat down to dine On curranty bread and gooseberry wine. Three little mice ate on and on, Till every crumb of the bread was gone. Three little mice, when the feast was done, Crept home quietly one by one. Three little mice went straight to bed, And dreamt of crumbly, curranty bread.



The Kind Mousie

Natalie Joan

There once was a cobbler And he was so wee That he lived in a hole In a very big tree. He had a kind neighbor, And she was a mouse; She did his wee washing And tidied his house. Each morning at seven He heard a wee tap, And in came the mouse In her apron and cap. She lighted his fire And she fetched his wee broom, And she swept and she polished His little Tree-room. To take any wages She’d always refuse, So the cobbler said “Thank you!” And mended her shoes; And the owl didn’t eat her, And even the cat Said, “I would never catch A kind mousie like that!”

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Fieldmouse

Cecil Frances Alexander

Where the acorn tumbles down, Where the ash tree sheds its berry, With your fur so soft and brown, With your eye so round and merry, Scarcely moving the long grass, Fieldmouse, I can see you pass. Little thing, in what dark den, Lie you all the winter sleeping Till warm weather comes again? Then once more I see you peeping Round about the tall tree roots, Nibbling at their fallen fruits. Fieldmouse, fieldmouse, do not go, Where the farmer stacks his treasure, Find the nut that falls below, Eat the acorn at your pleasure, But you must not steal the grain He has stacked with so much pain. Make your hole where mosses spring, Underneath the tall oak’s shadow, Pretty, quiet, harmless thing, Play about the sunny meadow. Keep away from corn and house, None will harm you, little mouse.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


To a Mouse

On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785 Robert Burns

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa sae hasty, Wi' bickering brattle! I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee, Wi' murd'ring pattle! I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union, An' justifies that ill opinion Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An' fellow-mortal! I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve; What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! A daimen icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request: I'll get a blessin wi' the lave, An' never miss't! Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin! It's silly wa's the win's are strewin! An' naething, now, to big a new ane, O' foggage green! An' bleak December's win’s ensuin, Baith snell an' keen! Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste, An' weary Winter comin fast, An' cozie here, beneath the blast, Thou thought to dwell, Till crash! the cruel coulter past Out thro' thy cell. That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble, Has cost thee monie a weary nibble! Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble, But house or hald. To thole the Winter's sleety dribble, An' cranreuch cauld!



But Mousie, thou are no thy lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy! Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me! The present only toucheth thee: But och! I backward cast my e'e, On prospects drear! An' forward, tho' I canna see, I guess an' fear!

Glossary of words in Scots dialect sleekit. bickering brattle. pattle. whyles. daimen icker in a thrave. lave. silly wa’s. big. foggage. snell. coulter. But. hald. thole. cranreuch. thy lane. a-gley. “It is more than merely likely, that before the end of this year (1785) the notion of publishing had come upon Burns, and that he began accordingly to exert himself vigorously in the composition of poems not strictly, as for the most part hitherto, occasional. ‘Holding the plough,’ we are told by Gilbert, ‘was a favorite situation with Robert for poetic composition, and some of his best verses were produced while he was at that exercise.’ “We have the testimony of Gilbert Barns that this beautiful poem was composed while the author was following the plough. Burns ploughed with four horses, being twice the amount of pow-

Sleek. Hasty clatter. The stick used for clearing away the clogs from the plough. Sometimes. An occasional ear of corn in a thrave —that is, twenty-four sheaves. Remainder. Poor walls. Build. Herbage and stray vegetable material used by birds, etc., in constructing nests. Sharp. Plough. Without. Shelter. Endure. Hoar-frost. Alone. Awry. er now required on most of the soils of Scotland. He required an assistant called a gaudsman, to drive the horses, his own duty being to hold and guide the plough. John Blane. who had acted as gaudsman to Burns, and who lived sixty years afterwards, had a distinct recollection of the turning up of the mouse. Like a thoughtless youth as he was, he ran after the creature to kill it, but was checked and recalled by his master, who, he observed, became thereafter thoughtful and abstracted. Burns, who treated his servants with the familiarity of fellow-laborers, soon after read the poem to Blane.” -from ‘The Poetical Works of Robert Burns: With a Sketch of the Author’s Life.’

Cats and Dogs

An Old Russian Prayer Hear our prayer Lord, for all animals, May they be well-fed and well-trained and happy; Protect them from hunger and fear and suffering; And, we pray, protect specially, dear Lord, The little cat who is the companion of our home, Keep her safe as she goes abroad, And bring her back to comfort us.

The Bad Kittens

Elizabeth Coatsworth

You may call, you may call, But the little black cats won't hear you, The little black cats are maddened By the bright green light of the moon, They are whirling and running and hiding, They are wild who were once so confiding, They are crazed when the moon is riding— You will not catch the kittens soon. They care not for saucers of milk, They think not of pillows of silk; Your softest, crooningest call Is less than the buzzing of flies. They are seeing more than you see, They are hearing more than you hear, And out of the darkness they peer With a goblin light in their eyes!


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

Two Cats Ewart Milne

Two Cats One up a tree One under the tree The cat up a tree is he The cat under the tree is she The tree is witch elm, just incidentally. He takes no notice of she, she takes no notice of he. He stares at the woolly clouds passing, she stares at the tree. There's been a lot written about cats, by Old Possum, Yeats and Company But not Alfred de Musset or Lord Tennyson or Poe or anybody Wrote about one cat under, and one cat up, a tree. God knows why this should be left for me Except I like cats as cats be Especially one cat up And one cat under A witch elm Tree.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

The Two Little Kittens Two little kittens, one stormy night, Began to quarrel, and then to fight; One had a mouse, and the other had none, And that's the way the quarrel begun. “I'll have that mouse,” said the bigger cat, “You'll have that mouse? we'll see about that!” “I will have that mouse” said the elder son, “You sha'n't have that mouse,” said the little one. I told you before ‘twas a stormy night When these two little kittens began to fight; The old woman seized her sweeping broom, And swept the two kittens right out of the room. The ground was covered with frost and snow, And the two little kittens had nowhere to go; So they laid them down on the mat at the door, While the old woman finished sweeping the floor. Then they crept in, as quiet as mice, All wet with the snow, and as cold as ice, For they found it was better, that stormy night, To lie down and sleep than to quarrel and fight.

Cats and Dogs



Jules Verne

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.

from The Seventy-Five Praises of Ra

Inscribed on the walls of the royal tombs of Thebes in Egypt (c. 1200-1100 B.C.E.)

Praise be to thee, O Ra, exalted Sekhem, thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods and the judge of words and deeds and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle, thou art indeed the bodies of the Great Cat.

Chang Tuan's Cats

After Wang Chih, c. 1100 C.E.

Scholar Chang Tuan was fond of cats, And had seven of them, Wonderful beasts with wonderful names. They were: Guardian of the East White Phoenix Purple Blossom Drive-Away-Vexation Brocade Sash Cloud Pattern Ten Thousand Strings of Cash Each was worth several pieces of gold, And nothing could persuade Chang To part with them.

Cats and Dogs


The Dog

Oliver Herford

Here is the Dog. Since time be-gan, The Dog has been the friend of MAN, The Dog loves MAN be-cause he shears His coat and clips his tail and ears. MAN loves the Dog be-cause he'll stay And lis-ten to his talk all day, And wag his tail and show de-light At all his jokes, how-ev-er trite. His bark is far worse than his bite, So peo-ple say. They may be right; Yet if to make a choice I had, I'd choose his bark, how-ev-er bad.

The Song of the Mischievous Dog

Dylan Thomas (Mr. Dylan wrote this when he was 11. This was his first published poem.)

There are many who say that a dog has its day, And a cat has a number of lives; There are others who think that a lobster is pink, And that bees never work in their hives. There are fewer, of course, who insist that a horse Has a horn and two humps on its head, And a fellow who jests that a mare can build nests Is as rare as a donkey that’s red. Yet in spite of all this, I have moments of bliss, For I cherish a passion for bones, And though doubtful of biscuit, I’m willing to risk it, And I love to chase rabbits and stones. But my greatest delight is to take a good bite At a calf that is plump and delicious; And if I indulge in a bite at a bulge, Let’s hope you won’t think me too vicious.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Song of Quoodle

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

“They haven't got no noses The fallen sons of Eve, Even the smell of roses Is not what they supposes, But more than mind discloses, And more than men believe. “The brilliant smell of water, The brave smell of a stone, The smell of dew and thunder And old bones buried under, Are things in which they blunder And err, if left alone. “The wind from winter forests, The scent of scentless flowers, The breath of bride's adorning, The smell of snare and warning, The smell of Sunday morning, God gave to us for ours. “And Quoodle here discloses All things that Quoodle can; They haven't got no noses, They haven't got no noses, And goodness only knowses The Noselessness of Man.”

The Perfect Greyhound

Old Rhyme

If you would have a good tyke, Of which there are few like,— He must be headed like a snake, Necked like a drake, Backed like a bean, Tailed like a bat, And footed like a cat.


Horses, Donkeys, & Camels The Horseman

Edward Lear

I heard a horseman Ride over the hill; The moon shone clear, The night was still; His helm was silver, And pale was he; And the horse he rode Was of ivory.

The Donkey

Mother Goose

Donkey, donkey, old and gray, Ope your mouth and gently bray; Lift your ears and blow your horn To wake the world this sleepy morn.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The People of Troy Drag the Horse Inside

from The Aenid, Book II (234-249) Virgil (70-19 BC) translated from the Latin by John Dryden

A spacious breach is made, the town lies bare, Some hoisting-levers, some the wheels prepare, And fasten to the horse’s feet: the rest With cables hawl along th’ unwieldly beast. Each on his fellow for assistance calls; At length the fatal fabric mounts the walls, Big with destruction. Boys with chaplets crown’d, And quires of virgins, sing and dance around. Thus rais’d aloft, and then descending down, It enters o'er our heads, and threats the town. O sacred city, built by hands divine! O valiant heroes of the Trojan line! Four times he stuck; as oft the clashing sound Of arms was heard, and inward groans rebound. Yet mad with zeal, and blinded with our fate, We haul along the horse in solemn state; Then place the dire portent within the tow’r. Cassandra cry’d, and curs’d th’ unhappy hour; Foretold our fate; but by the god's decree, All heard, and none believ’d the prophecy. With branches we the fanes adorn, and waste In jollity the day ordain’d to be the last. quires: choirs

Horses, Donkeys & Camels


Alexander Breaking Bucephalus

George Lansing Taylor

Philonicus, the Thessalian, brought to Philip's court a steed, Tall and shapely, powerful, glorious, of Larissa's noblest breed; Flashing white from mane to fetlock, neck of thunder, eyes of flame, In his brow the jet-black ox-head, whence Bucephalus, his name. But the mighty charger's spirit none could manage, soothe, subdue; Grooms Thessalian, Macedonian, right and left alike he threw: Vain were curb bits, vain caresses, to assuage those tameless fires Blazing in arterial lava from a hundred Centaur sires! “Faugh! Avaunt the furious monster!” Philip cried, in vexed disgust, “What a brute to send a monarch! Would they see me flung to dust? Nay! Begone with such a fury! There's no dragon market here!” At the word young Alexander heaved a sigh and dropped a tear. “What a matchless steed they're losing!” cried the boy, in proud distress, “All for lack of nerve to back him, lack of boldness and address! Lack of soul to show the master to the dumb but knowing thing! Lack of inborn kingliness to match the proud four-footed king!” “What! rash youth! arraign thy elders? Durst thou mount the horse to-day? Should’st thou fail, what kingly forfeit for thy folly canst thou pay?” Stern spake Philip;—Alexander: “Yea, I dare! give but the sign, I will ride; or thirteen talents pay thee, and the steed be mine!” “Done!” cried Philip; “Mount!” The courtiers, laughing, jeered the challenged But, ablaze with inspiration, to the steed he sprang with joy! (boy; Boldly seized the foam-sprent bridle, turned the fierce eye to the sun, Spake firm words of fearless kindness, till the fiery heart was won. To his back then lightly springing, on his neck he flung the rein, Gave him voice and spur, and sent him free and bounding o'er the plain; Like a thunderbolt in harness the great steed exultant flew, Glorying in his new-found master, with brute instinct swift and true. On gazed Philip, on gazed courtiers, on gazed Pella's anxious throng. Wondering at the princely hand that tamed a steed so fierce and strong; All unconscious of that horse-mind which could manliness explore, And a kingly lord accepting, spurned all others evermore. On, around the royal stadium still the courser storms the ground, All his mighty thews rejoicing as his rhythmic hoof-beats sound! Firm, erect, the eager rider with joy of conquest thrills; Horse and man, a new-born Centaur, one inspiring spirit fills.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

Down the home stretch now careering steed and rider greet the king; Jeers are changed to acclamations, shouts of rapture roll and ring. But with prescient tears, the father hails the omen, triumph won: “Macedonia cramps thy genius; seek a grander realm, my son.” Thus the matchless steed was mastered, born to bear, through steel and flame Earth's world-conquering hero, joined with him in victory and fame, Till, beside the far Hydaspes, worn with years the war-horse dies, And a city, his memorial, lifts its towers to India's skies. Thus must world-compelling genius master first its wondrous tools, Learn to grasp and hold the fortune feared by cowards, fled by fools, Till each challenge to our manhood, met by manhood, lifts us higher, As the stubborn steel colliding with the flint but wakes its fire. Claim’st thou manhood? Up, and show it! Draw thy bow, or break the string! Claim’st thou kingship? Kingly deeds, then, be thy noblest signet ring! No “It might have been” for heroes, but “It must be!—shall be! —is!” That's the shaft that makes a bull's-eye on life's target! Let it whiz! Toils and dangers shunned by others only dare thy soul to climb. Mount the heights! Then from their summits gaze on grandeurs more sublime! Break Bucephalus, and ride him! Cowards shall to dust be hurled, But he'll own a kingly spirit—own, and bear thee round the world!

Henceforth Bucephalus made it clear that he served Alexander and no one else. He would submit quietly to having the festive trappings of a king’s steed fastened on his head, and the royal saddle put on, but if any groom tried to mount him, back would go his ears and up would go his heels, and none dared come near him. For ten years after Alexander succeeded his father on the throne of Macedon (B.C. 336), Bucephalus bore him through all his battles, and even when wounded, as he once was at the taking of Thebes, would not suffer his master to mount another horse. Together these two swam rivers, crossed mountains, penetrated into the dominions of the Great King, and farther still into the heart of Asia, beyond the Caspian and the river Oxus, where never European army had gone before. Then turning sharp south, he crossed the range

of the Hindoo Koosh, and entering the country of the Five Rivers, he prepared to attack Porus, king of India. But age and the wanderings of ten years had worn Bucephalus out. One last victory near the Hydaspes or Jelum, and the old horse sank down and died, full of years and honours (B.C. 326). Bitter were the lamentations of Alexander the Great for the friend of his childhood, but his grief did not show itself only in weeping. The most splendid funeral Alexander could devise was given to Bucephalus, and a gorgeous tomb erected over his body. And more than that, Alexander resolved that the memory of his old horse should be kept green in these burning Indian deserts, thousands of miles from the Thessalian plains where he was born, so round his tomb the king built a city, and it was called “Bucephalia.” -Andrew Lang’s “The War Horse of Alexander.”

Fables from The Blind Men and the Elephant

A Hindoo Fable John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy the mind. The First approached the Elephant, And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side At once began to bawl: “God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!” The Second, feeling of his tusk, Cried, “Ho! What have we here So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ’tis mighty clear This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear”. The Third approached the animal, And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, Then boldly up and spake: “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant Is very like a snake!” The Fourth reached out his eager hand, And felt about the knee. “What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain,” quoth he; “‘T is clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!”


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said: “E’en the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can, This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!” The Sixth no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Than, seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant Is very like a rope!” And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!



The Mice in Council

Aesop, John Martin

A band of mice lived in a house, Where they most freely helped themselves Just as they would (And really could) To everything on pantry shelves. With very selfish appetites They rummaged here and ravaged there, Most wretched blights On other’s rights— An awful nuisance, I declare, So Lady Housewife got a cat, A most successful mouser, too, With puss about No mouse came out. What were the ravagers to do? That cat went stalking everywhere With habits dangerous and rude. Why, every mouse In that same house Would starve to death for want of food! So, in their trouble deep and dark, They called a meeting of the mice To have a chat On pussy cat In hopes of gaining good advice. So they discussed their troubles much From every point and awkward angle. They got some nice And strange advice But none to straighten out the tangle. At last a young, conceited mouse Arose and made this little chat: “Dear friends, I know And I will show A way to fool that cruel cat.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


“Now I propose we hang a bell About her neck; then, by its sound All mice will hear Its tinkle clear When she is anywhere around.” Then he sat down ‘mid great applause, Most sage remarks! A noble cause! Such good advice For starving mice! Such clappings of those tiny claws! But presently an ancient mouse, Who had not said a word before, Rose quietly; And thus spake he When formally allowed “the floor.” “I think this plan is excellent, And doubtless our young speaker can In few words say What is the way To carry out his clever plan. “In other words, it isn’t plain To me or other persons that We want to choose The hero who’s To be the one to bell the cat!” Moral. Conceited folks are apt to be Quick to advise with thoughtless chatter. But how to do And put things through Is really quite another matter.



The Butterfly and the Caterpillar Joseph Lauren

A butterfly, one summer morn, Sat on a spray of blossoming thorn And, as he sipped and drank his share Of honey from the flowered air, Below, upon a garden wall, A caterpillar chanced to crawl. “Horrors!” the butterfly exclaimed, “This must be stopped! I am ashamed That such as I should have to be In the same world with such as he. Preserve me from such hideous things! Disgusting shape! Where are his wings! Fuzzy and gray! Eater of clay! Won’t someone take the worm away!” The caterpillar crawled ahead, But, as he munched a leaf, he said, “Eight days ago, young butterfly, You wormed about, the same as I; Within a fortnight from today Two wings will bear me far away, To brighter blooms and lovelier lures, With colors that outrival yours. “So, flutter-flit, be not so proud; Each caterpillar is endowed With power to make him by and by, A blithe and brilliant butterfly. While you, who scorn the common clay, You, in your livery so gay, And all the gaudy moths and millers, Are only dressed up caterpillars.”

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Fox and the Goat

Aesop, F. M. Cleveland

A Fox, by an unlucky chance, Once fell into quite a deep well; Unable he was to get out And none heard his very loud yell. A Goat, shortly passing that way, Asked what he was doing down there. “Oh, have you not heard,” said the Fox, As softly he started to swear. “There’s going to be a great drought, And I jumped right into the well, In order that I might possess Some water, which then I could sell. “You, also, might come down here too;” Of which Mistress Goat well did think, So jumped down beside Mr. Fox And promptly did start in to drink. The Fox made a very quick jump Upon the Goat’s back with great ease; Then, putting a foot on each horn, Leaped out without heeding her pleas. “Good-bye! my dear friend,” said the Fox, “And do not forget what I say: Ne’er trust the advice of a man Who is in a most difficult way.”



The Fox and the Grapes Aesop

“What luscious grapes,” mused a hungry fox; “Fine, good grapes,” said he. “If I jump as high as a clever fox can, I’ll have those grapes for me.” He jumped and he leaped and he snapped with his teeth, But only the air did he bite, While the grapes, sweet and juicy, dangled above, And swayed at a lofty height. The fox grew mad, turn’d scarlet red, But tossing his head, said he: “Those grapes are sour and full of worms— Who wants those grapes? Not me!”

The Fox and the Grapes

Aesop, John Martin

There was a fox—a sly old fox; A most ill-tempered beast was he, He had not had a meal for days, And he was hungry as could be. An empty stomach calling out For filling made his manners grim, And, being cross and impolite, Nobody sympathized with him. He hunted here and groveled there In search of food, but none he spied. The move he sought, more noisily His very empty stomach cried. At last his staggering footsteps led Into a trellised garden where Grapes hung above his very head In purple clusters ripe and fair. But they hung high, where sun and air Contrived with evening’s gentle dew To give them flavor and sweet bloom. Yes, thus those juicy clusters grew.


The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry

“Good food!” cried fox, as up he leaped With smothered growlings, rude and gruff. His two jaws snapped, but never could That hungry fox jump high enough. He leaped again, this way and that, In far more ways than I can tell, And all he got of those fair grapes Was but a most far-distant smell, Oh, yes, he was a stalwart fox, With muscles very hard and stout, But so much jumping, all in vain, Soon wore the snapping beastie out, At last, convinced that juicy meal Could not be captured to devour, He walked away and said,— “WHO CARES? It’s plain to see those grapes are SOUR” Ah, foolish fox, we children see Into your mean, begrudging speech. You can’t say good words of the things You are not big enough to reach. March on, old fox, perhaps in time You’ll learn the lesson good taste teaches, Don’t let your own shortcomings force You into harsh, unpleasant speeches.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Frogs and the Ox

Aesop, F. M. Cleveland

“Oh, Daddy,” a little Frog said To Father Frog quite near the pool, “A terrible, great monster bold, I saw as I came home from school. “It’s size was as yon mountain top, With tail very long and large head; Its hoof were divided in two, And stately and long was its tread.” “Tush, tush, child,” the old Frog replied, “That beast was the Farmer’s old Ox; It surely is not half as large As mountain or great city blocks. “Perhaps he is taller than I, But I can, you know, widen out; So you simply watch, and you’ll see There’s surely not use of grave doubt.” So Mr. Frog blew himself out, Then swelled to just double his size, And asked the young Frog if the beast Was larger, with such bulging eyes? “Oh, yes,” the young Frog quickly said; “Much bigger, and so huge and fat.” Again the old Frog blew and blew, Then said, “Was he bigger than that?” “Much bigger,” the younger Frog said, Then winked at his mother an eye, So Father Frog started again To swell, as he heaved a loud sigh. He swelled and he swelled, and he blew Much harder than he did at first; “I’m sure that Ox is not as big—” But he at that moment did burst. “Self-Conceit may lead to Self-Destruction.”



The Lion and the Mouse

Aesop, John Martin

A tired lion, after hunting lay Asleep beneath a great and shady tree. Then ran a mouse across his back and he Awoke with anger and abused dismay. In rage he rose and caught his tiny prey Beneath his paw. “Have mercy, Sire!” cried she, “You are too big to kill poor little me.” “Quite true,” said he, and he let her run away. One day he roamed that very neighborhood. A monarch of all beasts he was and yet He hunted all alone in search of food; And no one warned him that a trap was set To catch him as he wandered in the wood. So he, poor beast, soon fell into the net. Oh, how he struggled with all might and main To free himself. With angry rend and roar Upon the cruel net he bit and tore, But all his frantic struggle was in vain. The little mouse heard lion’s roars of pain And hurried up to pay a grateful score. Said she, “I pray don’t struggle any more And you shall have your freedom once again.” With no more words she nibbled at the net, And presently the monarch beast was free. The tiny mouse had fully paid her debt. “Ah,” lion said, “most truly wise are we, If in our strength we never once forget How great the might of littleness can be.”

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Wind and the Sun

Aesop, W. J. Linton

The Wind and the Sun had a bet, The wayfarers’ cloak which should get: Blew the Wind—the cloak clung: Shone the Sun—the cloak flung Showed the Sun had the best of it yet.

“True Strength Is Not Bluster”

The Wind and the Sun

Aesop, John Martin

The Wind can rush and bluster And twist and tear and turn; The Sun’s far-reaching power Can wilt and parch and burn. One day, the Wind all prideful With mighty blowings blew Up to the Sun and said, “Sir, I’m stronger far than you!” The Sun in burning glory Up in his sky so blue, Said, “Sir, you are mistaken. Your statement is not true. I am by far the stronger And I can prove it, too!” “All right,” said Wind, with vigor, “If you can prove it—do.” So thus they vainly argued, And neither would give in; At last they made a wager, Each thinking he would win. And this is how they wagered (Both chuckling at the joke)— They’d prove their strength upon a Poor trav’ler in a cloak. The one who proved the stronger, And he who won the bet, Would be the one succeeding By his own might to get



The trav’ler’s garment off him. And it was settled thus With no more words or wrangle, Nor further heat nor fuss. Wind first began the tussle; He twisted, whirled, and beat With rain and icy torrents, With driving hail and sleet, The fiercer and the harder The mighty blowings blew, The trav’ler for protection His cloak the tighter drew Around his beaten body. Wrapped close from knees to chin He faced the windy buffets That tried to wiggle in. In vain the angry torrents; In vain each freezing blast; Wind could not get that cloak off, So, gave it up at last. Then, forth the Sun came shining, Dispelling cold and mist With warmth direct and kindly That nothing could resist. He sent his healing comfort And all his gentle glow Upon the weather-beaten And wind-tossed man below. No noise of strength or boasting, No threatening word he spoke. Soon, with a sigh of pleasure Off came the trav’ler’s cloak. Moral. Said Sun to Wind, “Good Neighbor, Excuse me if I say, ‘Tween force and wise persuasion, Select the gentler way. Calm wisdom is the stronger, The surest and the best; It lives and lasts the longer— And kindness does the rest.”

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Swallow and the Other Birds

Aesop, F. M. Cleveland

A Countryman once sowed some hemp in a field, Where a Swallow and other birds lessened the yield By hopping and picking up all that they could Of the seeds sown, which made very delicate food. “Beware of the Man!” quoth the Swallow in fear; Said the others, “Why, what is he doing, My Dear?” “That’s hemp seed he sows. Be most careful that you Pick the seeds up; or failing, this act you will rue.” The birds paid no heed to this wise, warning word, So the hemp seed grew up and was made into cord, And then from these cords strong nets later were made, That the birds might be captured or made much afraid. But those that made light of the Swallow’s advice Oft were caught in the nets and lugged off in a trice; The Swallow then said, “All my words have come true, So that now you are caught I will bid you adieu.” “Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.”

The Two Crabs

Aesop, F. M. Cleveland

Two Crabs, one fine day, came out from their home, To take a short stroll o’er the lea; The mother then said, “My child, I am sure Your walk look ungraceful to me. “Accustom yourself to walk straight ahead, And do not twist off to one side.” The young one then said, “You walk straight yourself, And I’ll follow you as my guide.” “Example is the best precept.”

When We Are Older


Izumi Shikibu, Japan, b. 976

Although I try to hold the single thought of Buddha's teaching in my heart, I cannot help but hear the many crickets' voices calling as well.

If I Were Alone in the Desert and Feeling Afraid

Meister Eckhart (1260-1327)

If I were alone in the desert and feeling afraid, I would want a child to be with me. For then my fear would disappear and I would be made strong. This is what life in itself can do because it is so noble, so full of pleasure and so powerful. But if I could not have a child with me, I would like to have at least a living animal at my side to comfort me. Therefore, let those who bring about wonderful things in their big, dark books take an animal, perhaps a dog, to help them. The life within the animal will give strength in turn. For equality gives strength in all things and at all times.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Fawn

Raymond Holden

Lift up your head. Stop blood and breath. Stare, shy one, from thy familiar shade Of forest, beyond which lies death And the live fury men have made. Look how the grass moves where it should Be still this windless morning. Look! Something is crouching there where stood A bronze-leafed alder and a brook. O wary one, why not go flying Before you know? Why do you pause, One foot lifted and one foot trying The twig-strewn turf of leaves and straws? It is I that bar your wide-eyed way. I stalk the secret heart you bear. Your nostrils know me, yet you stay, Tasting the cold, man-scented air! Will you, if I am still and calm, Come nearer, suffer me to rise And, holding up a weaponless palm, Show you the fawn within my eyes?

Crossing the Plains

Joaquin Miller

What great yoked brutes with briskets low, With wrinkled necks like buffalo, With round, brown, liquid, pleading eyes, That turn'd so slow and sad to you, That shone like love's eyes soft with tears, That seem'd to plead, and make replies, The while they bow'd their necks and drew The creaking load; and looked at you. Their sable briskets swept the ground, Their cloven feet kept solemn sound.

When We Are Older


Two sullen bullocks led the line, Their great eyes shining bright like wine; Two sullen captive kings were they, That had in time held herds at bay, And even now they crush'd the sod With stolid sense of majesty, And stately stepp'd and stately trod, As if 'twere something still to be Kings even in captivity.

A Doe at Evening

D. H. Lawrence

As I went through the marshes a doe sprang out of the corn and flashed up the hill-side leaving her fawn. On the sky-line she moved round to watch, she pricked a fine black blotch on the sky. I looked at her and felt her watching; I became a strange being. Still, I had my right to be there with her, Her nimble shadow trotting along the sky-line, she put back her fine, level-balanced head. And I knew her. Ah yes, being male, is not my head hard-balanced, antlered? Are not my haunches light? Has she not fled on the same wind with me? Does not my fear cover her fear?

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry


The Panther

In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris Rainer Maria Rilke

His gaze is from the passing of bars so exhausted, that it doesn't hold a thing anymore. For him, it's as if there were thousands of bars and behind the thousands of bars no world. The sure stride of lithe, powerful steps, that around the smallest of circles turns, is like a dance of pure energy about a center, in which a great will stands numbed. Only occasionally, without a sound, do the covers of the eyes slide open—. An image rushes in, goes through the tensed silence of the frame— only to vanish, forever, in the heart.

Black Cat

Rainer Maria Rilke

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place your sight can knock on, echoing; but here within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze will be absorbed and utterly disappear: just as a raving madman, when nothing else can ease him, charges into his dark night howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels the rage being taken in and pacified. She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen into her, so that, like an audience, she can look them over, menacing and sullen, and curl to sleep with them. But all at once as if awakened, she turns her face to yours; and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny, inside the golden amber of her eyeballs suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

When We Are Older


The Fox

Mary Howitt

In the rugged copse, in the ferny brake, The cunning red fox his den doth make; And there he skulks like a creature of ill And comes out when midnight is dark and still; When the dismal owl with his staring eye Sends forth from the ruin his screeching cry, And the bat on his black leathern wings goes by.

The Song of The Black Bear Navajo

My moccasins are black obsidian, My leggings are black obsidian, My shirt is black obsidian. I am girded with a black arrowsnake. Black snakes go up from my head. With zigzag lightning darting from the ends of my feet I step, With zigzag lightning streaming out from my knees I step, With zigzag lightning streaming from the tip of my tongue I speak. Now a disk of pollen rests on the crown of my head. Gray arrowsnakes and rattlesnakes eat it. Black obsidian and zigzag lightning streams out from me in four ways, Where they strike the earth, bad things, bad talk does not like it. It causes the missiles to spread out. Long Life, something frightful I am. Now I am. There is danger where I move my feet. I am a whirlwind. There is danger when I move my feet. I am a gray bear. When I walk, where I step, lightning flies from me, Where I walk, one to be feared. Where I walk, Long Life. One to be feared I am. There is danger where I walk.

The Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry



Frank W. Harvey

From troubles of the world I turn to ducks, Beautiful comical things Sleeping or curled Their heads beneath white wings By water cool, Or finding curious things To eat in various mucks Beneath the pool, Tails uppermost, or waddling Sailor-like on the shores Of ponds, or paddling —Left! right!—with fanlike feet Which are for steady oars When they (white galleys) float Each bird a boat Rippling at will the sweet Wide waterway… When night is fallen you creep Upstairs, but drakes and dillies Nest with pale water stars. Moonbeams and shadow bars, And water lilies; Fearful too much to sleep Since they've no locks To click against the teeth Of weasel and fox. And warm beneath Are eggs of cloudy green Whence hungry rats and lean Would stealthily suck New life, but for the mien, The hold ferocious mien Of the mother duck. Yes, ducks are valiant things On nests of twigs and straws, And ducks are soothy things And lovely on the lake When that the sunlight draws Thereon their pictures dim In colors cool.

When We Are Older


And when beneath the pool They dabble, and when they swim And make their rippling rings, Oh, ducks are beautiful things!

But ducks are comical things— As comical as you. Quack! They waddle round, they do. They eat all sorts of things, And then they quack. By barn and stable and stack They wander at their will, But if you go too near They look at you through black Small topaz-tinted eyes And wish you ill. Triangular and clear They leave their curious track In mud at the water's edge, And there amid the sedge And slime they gobble and peer Saying “Quack! quack!” When God had finished the stars and whirl of colored suns He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones, Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then He made the comical ones in case the minds of men Should stiffen and become Dull, humourless and glum; And so forgetful of their Maker be As to take even themselves—quite seriously. Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns; All God's jokes are good—even the practical ones! And as for the duck, I think God must have smiled a bit Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it. And He's probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill! Soon after his arrival as a British lance corporal in France, Harvey began to contribute to a trench newspaper, the “Fifth Glo’ster Gazette.” His first volume of poems, “A Gloucestershire Lad At Home and Abroad,” was published in 1916, shortly before his capture. He began to write more intensively in captivity, and poems were sent back to England for publication: his second collection, “Gloucester-

shire Friends,” appeared in 1917. His time in the camps is held to be his most productive period of writing. On returning from a spell of solitary confinement at Holzminden after a failed escape attempt, he saw that a fellow prisoner had drawn a picture of ducks in a pool of water over his bed in chalk. This inspired his most celebrated poem “Ducks.”

When We Are Older

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.


Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry  

The largest collection of animal poems ever published! A mixture of well-known treasures and little-known jewels— this collection will suit...

Waldorf Book of Animal Poetry  

The largest collection of animal poems ever published! A mixture of well-known treasures and little-known jewels— this collection will suit...