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Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt

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Poems Every Child Should Know
by Mary E. Burt
An outstanding collection of poems that appeal to both boys and girls, compiled by a teacher who believed in the formative power of learning poetry by heart. 'Children,' she maintains, 'should build for their future and get, while they are children, what only the fresh imagination of the child can assimilate. They should store up an untold wealth of heroic sentiment; they should acquire the habit of carrying a literary quality in their conversation; they should carry a heart full of the fresh and delightful associations and memories connected with poetry hours to brighten mature years. They should develop their memories while they have memories to develop.' The poems are grouped into six sections (The Budding Moment, The Little Child, The Day's at the Morn, Lad and Lassie, On and On, 'Grow Old Along with Me') to make it easier to locate poems that match a child's maturity.  Ages 8-12
391 pages $14.95   




"The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49), is placed here because so many college men speak of it at once as the great poem of their boyhood. The poem caught me when a child by its refrain and weird picturesqueness. It has never outgrown its mechanical charm.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door"


'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—

Only this, and nothing more."

Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor;

Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,

"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door:

This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;


But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door:

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"

Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into my chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a rapping, something louder than before:

"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.

'Tis the wind, and nothing more."


Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven, of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he, not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—

Perched above a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door—

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore;

"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure, no craven;

Ghastly, grim, and ancient Raven, wandering from the nightly shore,

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the night's Plutonian shore?"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer, little meaning, little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—


Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door

With such a name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour;

Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered,

Till I scarcely more than muttered—"Other friends have flown before,

On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."

Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled by the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,

Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster

Followed fast and followed faster, till his songs one burden bore—

Till the dirges of his hope this melancholy burden bore—

Of 'Never, nevermore,'"

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust, and door;


Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy into fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion's velvet lining, that the lamp-light gloated o'er,

But whose velvet violet lining, with the lamp-light gloating o'er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by seraphim, whose footfalls twinkled on the tufted floor.

"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels He hath sent thee

Respite—respite and nepenthe from my memories of Lenore!

Quaff, oh, quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."


"Prophet," said I, "thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!

Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore

Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted,

On this home by horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore,

Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me, tell me, I implore!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet," said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still if bird or devil!

By that heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—

Tell this soul, with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aiden

It shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore!

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that our sign of parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting—

"Get thee back into the tempest and the night's Plutonian shore;

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken,

Leave my loneliness unbroken—quit the bust above my door,


Take thy beak from out my heart and take thy form from off my door!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,

On the pallid bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o'er him streaming, throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor,

Shall be lifted—nevermore!


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