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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   




There never was a boy who did not like "Sheridan's Ride," by T. Buchanan Read (1822-72). The swing and gallop in it take every boy off from his feet. The children never teach this poem to me, because they love to learn it at first sight. It is easily memorised.

Up from the South at break of day,

Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,

The affrighted air with a shudder bore,

Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain's door,

The terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar,

Telling the battle was on once more,

And Sheridan twenty miles away.


And wider still those billows of war

Thundered along the horizon's bar;

And louder yet into Winchester rolled

The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,

Making the blood of the listener cold

As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,

And Sheridan twenty miles away.

But there is a road from Winchester town,

A good, broad highway leading down;

And there, through the flush of the morning light,

A steed as black as the steeds of night

Was seen to pass as with eagle flight;

As if he knew the terrible need,

He stretched away with his utmost speed;

Hills rose and fell; but his heart was gay,

With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

Still sprung from those swift hoofs, thundering South,

The dust, like smoke from the cannon's mouth;

Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster,

Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster.

The heart of the steed and the heart of the master

Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,

Impatient to be where the battle-field calls;

Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,

With Sheridan only ten miles away.

Under his spurning feet the road

Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,

And the landscape sped away behind

Like an ocean flying before the wind.


And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace fire,

Swept on, with his wild eye full of ire.

But lo! he is nearing his heart's desire;

He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,

With Sheridan only five miles away.

The first that the General saw were the groups

Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops.

What was done—what to do? A glance told him both,

Then striking his spurs, with a terrible oath,

He dashed down the line, mid a storm of huzzas,

And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because

The sight of the master compelled it to pause.

With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;

By the flash of his eye, and the red nostrils' play,

He seemed to the whole great army to say:

"I have brought you Sheridan all the way

From Winchester down to save the day!"

Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!

Hurrah! hurrah for horse and man!

And when their statues are placed on high,

Under the dome of the Union sky,

The American soldiers' Temple of Fame,

There with the glorious General's name

Be it said, in letters both bold and bright:

"Here is the steed that saved the day,

By carrying Sheridan into the fight

From Winchester, twenty miles away!"


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