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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Young America by Julia M. Dana


Poetry Friday Greetings!

This week, the news left me feeling heavy, again, and dashing off yet another letter to a Senator, explaining that while I appreciate his email survey/solicitation of feedback re. the tax bill, none of that will matter an iota if a big chunk of the world gets blown up because of recklessness. Maybe not quite enough sleep has me overreacting.

I craved something lighter to share, and stumbled upon this offering, one of the "brilliant gems of song" in my book, Among the Poets - The Best Poems by the Best Authors, selected by A. A. Smith (J. A. Ruth & Co., Philadelphia and Chicago, 1886). The book makes me smile, with its ornate cover, fancy type, and still-shiny gilded edges. It's one of the few in my studio that's safe from my, um, repurposing....

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem, which I found uncomfortably relevant. Make of it what you will. [I was not able to uncover biographical details about the poet except other publishing credits, some in children's publications. But if Julia were around today, I'd love to meet her for tea!]


           Young America
            by Julia M. Dana

"Come hither, you madcap darling!"
      I said to my four-year-old.
Pray what shall be done to the bad, bad girl
      Who will not do as she's told?
Too well you love your own wee way,
      While little you love to mind;
But mamma knows what is best for you,
"And isn't she always kind?"

So I told her of "Casabianca,"
And the fearful burning ship.
"Do you think," said I, "such a child as that
      His mother would have to whip?"
And my heart went out with the story and
      of the boy so nobly brave,
Who would not dare to disobey,
      Even his life to save.

Then her eyes grew bright as the morning,
      And they seemed to look me through.
Ah - ah, thought I, you understand
      The lesson I have in view.
"Now what do you think of this lad, my love?"
      Tell all that is in your heart."
"I fink," she said, "he was drefful good,
      But he wasn't the least bit smart."




Note - The poem "Casabianca" recounts a story (based on a historical incident) of the young son of a French commander, who would not abandon his post when the ship caught fire without a command from his father, and - died. Wikipedia says the poem was standard fare for schoolchildren in the UK and the US for a hundred years, until the 1950s. (Whew - I was barely spared by a decade or two!)

Speaking of tea, wouldn't you know Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has some ready for us, over at the Roundup? Thanks, Mary Lee!
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