Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,--
Sailed on a river of misty light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken,
And Nod.
                     -From “Dutch Lullaby”, by Eugene Field
A Child's Book of Poems
I love this poem. I tell myself I shouldn’t—I’m sure it’s overly romantic, cliché, sentimental. My kids don’t really like it. I think I started reading it to them too late in life—the magic isn’t there for them. But it is for me. This was in the first book of poetry I ever owned; I can still hear my mom’s voice reading it. It’s one of the poems that taught me that the sound of it was right up there with the meaning, and probably one of the reasons (among many) that language and music are so connected in my head.

Then there’s the visual connection. I was a kid entranced with the idea that the sun on a breezy day made Lake Harriet glitter like a million diamonds. I loved misty light and seas of dew, even if I’d never seen them. And I stared at Gyo Fujikawa’s illustration so many times, it is part of the poem.

I found this beautiful version with illustrations by Johanna Westerman a few years ago and gave it as a birthday present. I always intended to get it for my own kids—maybe it’s not too late for my youngest.

Wynken, Blynken, & Nod

I don’t care if this is a sentimental poem. It’s a part of me.

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