I was recently at the excellent Harrowden Books in Finedon and found this enticing volume of poetry called ‘Modern Verse for Town Boys and Girls’ by Sussams and Jarrett. First published in 1934 it was produced to meet the needs of children in the new senior schools especially where they were situated in urban areas and the choice was determined by what children said that they liked rather than what was considered to be edifying. Marvellous.
Coal Fire in the Nursery – by Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977)
And once, in some swamp-forest, these,
My child, were trees.
Before the first fox thought to run,
These dead black chips were one
Green net to hold the sun.
Each leaf in turn was taught the right
Way to drink light;
The twigs were made to learn
How to catch flame and yet not burn;
Branch and then bough began to eat
Their diet of heat.
And so for years, six million years (or higher)
They held that fire.
And here, out of the splinters that remain,
The fire is loose again.
See how its little hands reach here and there,
Finger the air;
Then, growing bolder, twisting free,
It fastens on the remnants of the tree
And, one by one,
Consumes them, mounts beyond them, leaps, is done,
And goes back to the sun.