Thursday, 20 January 2011

RHYMES - "Noah's Ark Game" ~ The Phoenix and the Carpet

Three lovely little poems for small children appear in "The Phoenix and the Carpet" on pages 32 and 33.  They are part of a "Noah's Ark" game that I have never heard of before.  I don't know if this is an old fashioned British game, for young children, or if it is something that came solely from Edith Nesbit's own imagination.  She wrote:

"You can always keep the Lamb good and happy for quite a long time if you play the Noah's Ark game with him. It is quite simple. He just sits on your lap and tells you what animal he is, and then you say the little poetry piece about whatever animal he chooses to be.  Of course, some of the animals, like the zebra and the tiger, haven't got any poetry, because they are so difficult to rhyme to. The Lamb knows quite well which are the poetry animals.

'I'm a baby bear!' said the Lamb, snugging down; and Anthea began:

'I love my little baby bear,
I love his nose and toes and hair;
I like to hold him in my arm,
And keep him VERY safe and warm.'

And when she said 'very', of course there was a real bear's hug.

Then came the eel, and the Lamb was tickled till he wriggled exactly like a real one:

'I love my little baby eel,
He is so squidglety to feel;
He'll be an eel when he is big -
But now he's just - a - tiny SNIG!'

Perhaps you didn't know that a snig was a baby eel? It is, though, and the Lamb knew it. 'Hedgehog now-!' he said; and Anthea went on:

A Hedgehog
'My baby hedgehog, how I like ye,
Though your back's so prickly-spiky;
Your front is very soft, I've found,
So I must love you front ways round!'

And then she loved him front ways round, while he squealed with pleasure.

It is a very baby game, and, of course, the rhymes are only meant for very, very small people - not for people who are old enough to read books, so I won't tell you any more of them.

By the time the Lamb had been a baby lion and a baby weasel, and a baby rabbit and a baby rat, mother was ready; and she and the Lamb, having been kissed by everybody and hugged as thoroughly as it is possible to be when you're dressed for out-of-doors, were seen to the tram by the boys."

I, for one, wish Nesbit HAD told her readers a few more of these delightful poems!

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