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Title: Now We Are Six

Date of first publication: 1927

Author: A. A. Milne (1882-1956)

Date first posted: July 28, 2021

Date last updated: July 28, 2021

Faded Page eBook #20210748

This eBook was produced by: Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net



Now We Are Six

 

A. A. MILNE

 

decorations by Ernest H. Shepard (1879-1976) have been omitted, not yet in the public domain.

 

First published 1927 by E. P. Dutton


to

ANNE DARLINGTON

now she is seven

and

because she is

so

SPESHAL


Introduction

When you are reciting poetry, which is a thing we never do, you find sometimes, just as you are beginning, that Uncle John is still telling Aunt Rose that if he can’t find his spectacles he won’t be able to hear properly, and does she know where they are; and by the time everybody has stopped looking for them, you are at the last verse, and in another minute they will be saying, “Thank-you, thank-you,” without really knowing what it was all about. So, next time, you are more careful; and, just before you begin you say, “Er-b’r’m!” very loudly, which means, “Now then, here we are”; and everybody stops talking and looks at you: which is what you want. So then you get in the way of saying it whenever you are asked to recite . . . and sometimes it is just as well, and sometimes it isn’t. . . . And by and by you find yourself saying it without thinking. Well, this bit which I am writing now, called Introduction, is really the er’b’r’m of the book, and I have put it in, partly so as not to take you by surprise, and partly because I can’t do without it now. There are some very clever writers who say that it is quite easy not to have an er-b’r’m but I don’t agree with them. I think it is much easier not to have all the rest of the book.

What I want to explain in the Introduction is this. We have been nearly three years writing this book. We began it when we were very young . . . and now we are six. So, of course, bits of it seem rather babyish to us, almost as if they had slipped out of some other book by mistake. On page whatever-it-is there is a thing which is simply three-ish, and when we read it to ourselves just now we said, “Well, well, well,” and turned over rather quickly. So we want you to know that the name of the book doesn’t mean that this is us being six all the time, but that it is about as far as we’ve got at present, and we half think of stopping there.

A. A. M.

 

P.S. Pooh wants us to say that he thought it was a different book; and he hopes you won’t mind, but he walked through it one day, looking for his friend Piglet, and sat down on some of the pages by mistake.

Contents

Solitude3
King John’s Christmas4
Busy9
Sneezles13
Binker16
Cherry Stones20
The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak22
Buttercup Days29
The Charcoal-Burner30
Us Two33
The Old Sailor36
The Engineer42
Journey’s End44
Furry Bear46
Forgiven47
The Emperor’s Rhyme50
Knight-in-Armour53
Come Out with Me55
Down by the Pond56
The Little Black Hen58
The Friend63
The Good Little Girl64
A Thought67
King Hilary and the Beggarman68
Swing Song75
Explained76
Twice Times79
The Morning Walk83
Cradle Song85
Waiting at the Window87
Pinkle Purr89
Wind on the Hill91
Forgotten93
In the Dark98
The End101

Solitude

I have a house where I go

  When there’s too many people,

I have a house where I go

  Where no one can be;

I have a house where I go,

Where nobody ever says “No”;

Where no one says anything—so

  There is no one but me.

King John’s Christmas

King John was not a good man—

  He had his little ways.

And sometimes no one spoke to him

  For days and days and days.

And men who came across him,

  When walking in the town,

Gave him a supercilious stare,

Or passed with noses in the air—

And bad King John stood dumbly there,

  Blushing beneath his crown.

 

King John was not a good man,

  And no good friends had he.

He stayed in every afternoon . . .

  But no one came to tea.

And, round about December,

  The cards upon his shelf

Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,

And fortune in the coming year,

Were never from his near and dear,

  But only from himself.

 

King John was not a good man.

  Yet had his hopes and fears.

They’d given him no present now

  For years and years and years.

But every year at Christmas,

  While minstrels stood about,

Collecting tribute from the young

For all the songs they might have sung,

He stole away upstairs and hung

  A hopeful stocking out.

 

King John was not a good man.

  He lived his life aloof;

Alone he thought a message out

  While climbing up the roof.

He wrote it down and propped it

  Against the chimney stack:

“TO ALL AND SUNDRY—NEAR AND FAR—

F. CHRISTMAS IN PARTICULAR.”

And signed it not “Johannes R.”

  But very humbly, “JACK.”

 

“I want some crackers,

  And I want some candy;

I think a box of chocolates

  Would come in handy;

I don’t mind oranges,

  I do like nuts!

And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife

  That really cuts.

And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,

Bring me a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

 

King John was not a good man—

  He wrote this message out,

And gat him to his room again,

  Descending by the spout.

And all that night he lay there,

  A prey to hopes and fears.

“I think that’s him a-coming now.”

(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)

“He’ll bring one present, anyhow—

  The first I’ve had for years.”

 

“Forget about the crackers,

  And forget about the candy;

I’m sure a box of chocolates

  Would never come in handy;

I don’t like oranges,

  I don’t want nuts,

And I HAVE got a pocket-knife

  That almost cuts.

But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,

Bring me a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

 

King John was not a good man—

  Next morning when the sun

Rose up to tell a waiting world

  That Christmas had begun,

And people seized their stockings,

  And opened them with glee,

And crackers, toys and games appeared,

And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,

King John said grimly: “As I feared,

  Nothing again for me!”

 

“I did want crackers,

  And I did want candy;

I know a box of chocolates

  Would come in handy;

I do love oranges,

  I did want nuts.

I haven’t got a pocket-knife—

  Not one that cuts.

And, oh! if Father Christmas had loved me at all,

He would have brought a big, red, india-rubber ball!”

 

King John stood by the window,

  And frowned to see below

The happy bands of boys and girls

  All playing in the snow.

A while he stood there watching,

  And envying them all . . .

When through the window big and red

There hurtled by his royal head,

And bounced and fell upon the bed,

  An india-rubber ball!

 

AND, OH, FATHER CHRISTMAS,

MY BLESSINGS ON YOU FALL

    FOR BRINGING HIM

    A BIG, RED,

    INDIA-RUBBER

    BALL!

Busy

I think I am a Muffin Man. I haven’t got a bell,

I haven’t got the muffin things that muffin people sell.

Perhaps I am a Postman. No, I think I am a Tram.

I’m feeling rather funny and I don’t know what I am—

 

                    BUT

            Round about

            And round about

            And round about I go—

            All around the table,

            The table in the nursery—

            Round about

            And round about

            And round about I go;

 

I think I am a Traveller escaping from a Bear;

I think I am an Elephant,

Behind another Elephant

Behind another Elephant who isn’t really there. . . .

 

                    SO

              Round about

              And round about

              And round about and round about

              And round about

              And round about

                  I go.

 

I think I am a Ticket Man who’s selling tickets—please,

I think I am a Doctor who is visiting a Sneeze;

Perhaps I’m just a Nanny who is walking with a pram

I’m feeling rather funny and I don’t know what I am—

 

                    BUT

            Round about

            And round about

            And round about I go—

            All around the table,

            The table in the nursery—

            Round about

            And round about

            And round about I go:

 

I think I am a Puppy, so I’m hanging out my tongue;

I think I am a Camel who

Is looking for a Camel who

Is looking for a Camel who is looking for its Young. . . .

 

                    SO

              Round about

              And round about

              And round about and round about

              And round about

              And round about

                  I go.

Sneezles

Christopher Robin

Had wheezles

And sneezles,

They bundled him

Into

His bed.

They gave him what goes

With a cold in the nose,

And some more for a cold

In the head.

They wondered

If wheezles

Could turn

Into measles,

If sneezles

Would turn

Into mumps;

They examined his chest

For a rash,

And the rest

Of his body for swellings and lumps.

They sent for some doctors

In sneezles

And wheezles

To tell them what ought

To be done.

 

All sorts of conditions

Of famous physicians

Came hurrying round

At a run.

They all made a note

Of the state of his throat,

They asked if he suffered from thirst;

They asked if the sneezles

Came after the wheezles,

Or if the first sneezle

Came first.

They said, “If you teazle

A sneezle

Or wheezle,

A measle

May easily grow.

But humour or pleazle

The wheezle

Or sneezle,

The measle

Will certainly go.”

They expounded the reazles

For sneezles

And wheezles,

The manner of measles

When new.

They said, “If he freezles

In draughts and in breezles,

Then phtheezles

May even ensue.”

 

Christopher Robin

Got up in the morning,

The sneezles had vanished away.

And the look in his eye

Seemed to say to the sky,

Now, how to amuse them today?

Binker

Binker—what I call him—is a secret of my own,

And Binker is the reason why I never feel alone.

Playing in the nursery, sitting on the stair,

Whatever I am busy at, Binker will be there.

 

  Oh, Daddy is clever, he’s a clever sort of man,

  And Mummy is the best since the world began,

  And Nanny is Nanny, and I call her Nan—

        But they can’t

        See

        Binker.

 

Binker’s always talking, ’cos I’m teaching him to speak:

He sometimes likes to do it in a funny sort of squeak.

And he sometimes likes to do it in a hoodling sort of roar . . .

And I have to do it for him ’cos his throat is rather sore.

 

  Oh, Daddy is clever, he’s a clever sort of man,

  And Mummy knows all that anybody can,

  And Nanny is Nanny, and I call her Nan—

        But they don’t

        Know

        Binker.

 

Binker’s brave as lions when we’re running in the park;

Binker’s brave as tigers when we’re lying in the dark;

Binker’s brave as elephants. He never, never cries . . .

Except (like other people) when the soap gets his eyes.

 

  Oh, Daddy is Daddy, he’s a Daddy sort of man,

  And Mummy is as Mummy as anybody can,

  And Nanny is Nanny, and I call her Nan . . .

         But they’re not

         Like

         Binker.

 

Binker isn’t greedy, but he does like things to eat,

So I have to say to people when they’re giving me a sweet,

“Oh, Binker wants a chocolate, so could you give me two?”

And then I eat it for him, ’cos his teeth are rather new.

 

Well, I’m very fond of Daddy, but he hasn’t time to play,

And I’m very fond of Mummy, but she sometimes goes away,

And I’m often cross with Nanny when she wants to brush my hair . . .

But Binker’s always Binker, and is certain to be there.

Cherry Stones

    Tinker, Tailor,

    Soldier, Sailor,

    Rich Man, Poor Man,

    Ploughboy, Thief

 

And what about a Cowboy,

Policeman, Jailer,

Engine-driver,

Or Pirate Chief?

What about a Postman—or a Keeper at the Zoo?

What about the Circus Man who lets the people through?

And the man who takes the pennies for the roundabouts and swings,

Or the man who plays the organ, and the other man who sings?

What about a Conjuror with rabbits in his pockets?

What about a Rocket Man who’s always making rockets?

Oh, there’s such a lot of things to do and such a lot to be.

That there’s always lots of cherries on my little cherry-tree!

The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak

Of all the Knights in Appledore

  The wisest was Sir Thomas Tom.

He multiplied as far as four,

  And knew what nine was taken from

To make eleven. He could write

A letter to another Knight.

 

No other Knight in all the land

  Could do the things which he could do

Not only did he understand

  The way to polish swords, but knew

What remedy a Knight should seek

Whose armour had begun to squeak.

 

And, if he didn’t fight too much,

  It wasn’t that he did not care

For blips and buffetings and such,

  But felt that it was hardly fair

To risk, by frequent injuries,

A brain as delicate as his.

 

His castle (Castle Tom) was set

  Conveniently on a hill;

And daily, when it wasn’t wet.

  He paced the battlements until

Some smaller Knight who couldn’t swim

Should reach the moat and challenge him.

 

Or sometimes, feeling full of fight,

  He hurried out to scour the plain;

And, seeing some approaching Knight,

  He either hurried home again,

Or hid; and, when the foe was past,

Blew a triumphant trumpet-blast.

 

One day when good Sir Thomas Tom

  Was resting in a handy ditch,

The noises he was hiding from,

  Though very much the noises which

He’d always hidden from before,

Seemed somehow less. . . . Or was it more?

 

The trotting horse, the trumpet’s blast,

  The whistling sword, the armour’s squeak,

These, and especially the last,

  Had clattered by him all the week.

Was this the same, or was it not?

Something was different. But what?

 

Sir Thomas raised a cautious ear

  And listened as Sir Hugh went by,

And suddenly he seemed to hear

  (Or not to hear) the reason why

This stranger made a nicer sound

Than other Knights who lived around.

 

Sir Thomas watched the way he went—

  His rage was such he couldn’t speak,

For years they’d called him down in Kent

  The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak!

Yet here and now he looked upon

Another Knight whose squeak had gone.

 

He rushed to where his horse was tied;

  He spurred it to a rapid trot.

The only fear he felt inside

  About his enemy was not

“How sharp his sword?” “How stout his heart?”

But “Has he got too long a start?”

 

Sir Hugh was singing, hand on hip,

  When something sudden came along.

And caught him a terrific blip

  Right in the middle of his song.

“A thunderstorm!” he thought. “Of course!”

And toppled gently off his horse.

 

Then said the good Sir Thomas Tom,

  Dismounting with a friendly air,

“Allow me to extract you from

  The heavy armour that you wear.

At times like these the bravest Knight

May find his armour much too tight.”

 

A hundred yards or so beyond

  The scene of brave Sir Hugh’s defeat

Sir Thomas found a useful pond,

  And, careful not to wet his feet,

He brought the armour to the brink

And flung it in . . . and watched it sink.

 

So ever after, more and more,

  The men of Kent would proudly speak

Of Thomas Tom of Appledore,

  “The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak”

Whilst Hugh, the Knight who gave him best,

Squeaks just as badly as the rest.

Buttercup Days

Where is Anne?

  Head above the buttercups,

Walking by the stream,

  Down among the buttercups.

Where is Anne?

Walking with her man,

Lost in a dream,

  Lost among the buttercups.

 

What has she got in that little brown head?

Wonderful thoughts which can never be said.

What has she got in that firm little fist of hers?

Somebody’s thumb, and it feels like Christopher’s.

 

Where is Anne?

Close to her man.

Brown head, gold head,

  In and out the buttercups.

The Charcoal-Burner

The charcoal-burner has tales to tell.

He lives in the Forest,

Alone in the Forest;

He sits in the Forest,

Alone in the Forest.

And the sun comes slanting between the trees,

And rabbits come up, and they give him good-morning,

And rabbits come up and say, “Beautiful morning. . . .”

And the moon swings clear of the tall black trees,

And owls fly over and wish him good-night,

Quietly over to wish him good-night. . . .

 

And he sits and thinks of the things they know,

He and the Forest, alone together—

The springs that come and the summers that go,

Autumn dew on bracken and heather,

The drip of the Forest beneath the snow. . . .

All the things they have seen,

All the things they have heard:

An April sky swept clean and the song of a bird . . .

Oh, the charcoal-burner has tales to tell!

And he lives in the Forest and knows us well.

Us Two

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

Whatever I do, he wants to do,

“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:

“Well, that’s very odd ’cos I was too.

Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.

“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

 

“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.

(“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.)

“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”

“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.

“It wasn’t an easy sum to do.

But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.

“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.

 

“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.

“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.

We crossed the river and found a few—

“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.

“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.

That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.

“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.

 

“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.

“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.

I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,

And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!

Silly old dragons!”—and off they flew.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,

“I’m never afraid with you.”

 

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,

“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,

It isn’t much fun for One, but Two

Can stick together,” says Pooh, says he.

“That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

The Old Sailor

There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew

Who had so many things which he wanted to do

That, whenever he thought it was time to begin,

He couldn’t because of the state he was in.

 

He was shipwrecked, and lived on an island for weeks,

And he wanted a hat, and he wanted some breeks;

And he wanted some nets, or a line and some hooks

For turtles and things which you read of in books.

 

And, thinking of this, he remembered a thing

Which he wanted (for water) and that was a spring;

And he thought that to talk to he’d look for, and keep

(If he found it) a goat, or some chickens and sheep.

 

Then, because of the weather, he wanted a hut

With a door (to come in by) which opened and shut

(With a jerk, which was useful if snakes were about),

And a very strong lock to keep savages out.

 

He began on the fish-hooks, and when he’d begun

He decided he couldn’t because of the sun.

So he knew what he ought to begin with, and that

Was to find, or to make, a large sun-stopping hat.

 

He was making the hat with some leaves from a tree,

When he thought, “I’m as hot as a body can be,

And I’ve nothing to take for my terrible thirst;

So I’ll look for a spring, and I’ll look for it first.”

 

Then he thought as he started, “Oh, dear and oh, dear!

I’ll be lonely tomorrow with nobody here!”

So he made in his notebook a couple of notes:

I must first find some chickens” and “No, I mean goats.”

 

He had just seen a goat (which he knew by the shape)

When he thought, “But I must have a boat for escape.

But a boat means a sail, which means needles and thread;

So I’d better sit down and make needles instead.”

 

He began on a needle, but thought as he worked,

That, if this was an island where savages lurked,

Sitting safe in his hut he’d have nothing to fear,

Whereas now they might suddenly breathe in his ear!

 

So he thought of his hut . . . and he thought of his boat,

And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat,

And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) . . .

But he never could think which he ought to do first.

 

And so in the end he did nothing at all,

But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl.

And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved—

He did nothing but basking until he was saved!

The Engineer

Let it rain!

Who cares?

I’ve a train

Upstairs,

With a brake

Which I make

From a string

Sort of thing.

Which works

In jerks,

’Cos it drops

In the spring,

Which stops

With the string,

And the wheels

All stick

So quick

That it feels

Like a thing

That you make

With a brake,

Not string. . . .

 

So that’s what I make,

When the day’s all wet.

It’s a good sort of brake

But it hasn’t worked yet.

Journey’s End

Christopher, Christopher, where are you going, Christopher Robin?

    “Just up to the top of the hill,

    Upping and upping until

    I am right on the top of the hill,”

        Said Christopher Robin.

 

Christopher, Christopher, where are you going, Christopher Robin?

    There’s nothing to see, so when

    You’ve got to the top, what then?

    “Just down to the bottom again,”

        Said Christopher Robin.

Furry Bear

If I were a bear,

  And a big bear too,

I shouldn’t much care

  If it froze or snew;

I shouldn’t much mind

  If it snowed or friz—

I’d be all fur-lined

  With a coat like his!

 

For I’d have fur boots and a brown fur wrap,

And brown fur knickers and a big fur cap.

I’d have a fur muffle-ruff to cover my jaws,

And brown fur mittens on my big brown paws.

With a big brown furry-down up to my head,

I’d sleep all the winter in a big fur bed.

Forgiven

I found a little beetle, so that Beetle was his name,

And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same.

I put him in a match-box, and I kept him all the day . . .

And Nanny let my beetle out—

  Yes, Nanny let my beetle out—

                She went and let my beetle out—

                        And Beetle ran away.

 

She said she didn’t mean it, and I never said she did,

She said she wanted matches and she just took off the lid,

She said that she was sorry, but it’s difficult to catch

An excited sort of beetle you’ve mistaken for a match.

 

She said that she was sorry, and I really mustn’t mind,

As there’s lots and lots of beetles which she’s certain we could find

If we looked about the garden for the holes where beetles hid—

And we’d get another match-box and write BEETLE on the lid.

 

We went to all the places which a beetle might be near,

And we made the sort of noises which a beetle likes to hear,

And I saw a kind of something, and I gave a sort of shout:

“A beetle-house and Alexander Beetle coming out!”

 

It was Alexander Beetle I’m as certain as can be

And he had a sort of look as if he thought it must be ME,

And he had a sort of look as if he thought he ought to say:

“I’m very, very sorry that I tried to run away.”

 

And Nanny’s very sorry too for you-know-what-she-did,

And she’s writing ALEXANDER very blackly on the lid.

So Nan and Me are friends, because it’s difficult to catch

An excited Alexander you’ve mistaken for a match.

The Emperor’s Rhyme

The King of Peru

(Who was Emperor too)

  Had a sort of a rhyme

    Which was useful to know,

If he felt very shy

When a stranger came by,

  Or they asked him the time

    When his watch didn’t go;

Or supposing he fell

(By mistake) down a well,

  Or he tumbled when skating

    And sat on his hat,

Or perhaps wasn’t told,

Till his porridge was cold,

  That his breakfast was waiting

    Or something like that;

Oh, whenever the Emperor

Got into a temper, or

  Felt himself sulky or sad.

He would murmur and murmur,

Until he felt firmer,

  This curious rhyme which he had:

 

Eight eights are sixty-four;

  Multiply by seven.

When it’s done,

Carry one,

  And take away eleven.

Nine nines are eighty-one;

  Multiply by three.

If it’s more,

Carry four,

  And then it’s time for tea.

 

So whenever the Queen

Took his armour to clean,

  And she didn’t remember

    To use any starch;

Or his birthday (in May)

Was a horrible day,

  Being wet as November

    And windy as March;

Or, if sitting in state

With the Wise and the Great,

  He just happened to hiccup

    While signing his name,

Or the Queen gave a cough,

When his crown tumbled off

  As he bent down to pick up

    A pen for the same;

Oh, whenever the Emperor

Got into a temper, or

  Felt himself awkward and shy,

He would whisper and whisper,

Until he felt crisper,

  This odd little rhyme to the sky:

 

Eight eights are eighty-one;

  Multiply by seven.

If it’s more,

Carry four,

  And take away eleven.

Nine nines are sixty-four;

  Multiply by three.

When it’s done,

Carry one,

  And then it’s time for tea.

Knight-in-Armour

Whenever I’m a shining Knight,

I buckle on my armour tight;

And then I look about for things,

Like Rushings-Out, and Rescuings,

And Savings from the Dragon’s Lair,

And fighting all the Dragons there.

And sometimes when our fights begin,

I think I’ll let the Dragons win . . .

And then I think perhaps I won’t,

Because they’re Dragons, and I don’t.

Come Out with Me

There’s sun on the river and sun on the hill . . .

You can hear the sea if you stand quite still!

There’s eight new puppies at Roundabout Farm—

And I saw an old sailor with only one arm!

 

    But every one says, “Run along!”

      (Run along, run along!)

  All of them say, “Run along! I’m busy as can be.”

      Every one says, “Run along,

      There’s a little darling!”

  If I’m a little darling, why don’t they run with me?

 

There’s wind on the river and wind on the hill . . .

There’s a dark dead water-wheel under the mill!

I saw a fly which had just been drowned—

And I know where a rabbit goes into the ground!

 

    But every one says, “Run along!”

      (Run along, run along!)

  All of them say, “Yes, dear,” and never notice me.

      Every one says, “Run along,

      There’s a little darling!”

If I’m a little darling, why won’t they come and see?

Down by the Pond

        I’m fishing.

Don’t talk, anybody, don’t come near!

Can’t you see that the fish might hear?

He thinks I’m playing with a piece of string;

He thinks I’m another sort of funny sort of thing,

        But he doesn’t know I’m fishing—

        He doesn’t know I’m fishing.

          That’s what I’m doing—

            Fishing.

 

        No, I’m not, I’m newting.

Don’t cough, anybody, don’t come by!

Any small noise makes a newt feel shy.

He thinks I’m a bush, or a new sort of tree;

He thinks it’s somebody, but doesn’t think it’s Me,

        And he doesn’t know I’m newting—

        No, he doesn’t know I’m newting.

          That’s what I’m doing—

            Newting.

The Little Black Hen

      Berryman and Baxter,

        Prettiboy and Penn

      And old Farmer Middleton

        Are five big men . . .

      And all of them were after

        The Little Black Hen.

 

      She ran quickly,

        They ran fast;

      Baxter was first, and

        Berryman was last.

      I sat and watched

        By the old plum-tree . . .

      She squawked through the hedge

        And she came to me.

 

      The Little Black Hen

        Said “Oh, it’s you!”

      I said “Thank you,

        How do you do?

      And please will you tell me,

        Little Black Hen,

      What did they want,

        Those five big men?”

 

      The Little Black Hen

        She said to me:

      “They want me to lay them

        An egg for tea.

      If they were Emperors,

        If they were Kings.

      I’m much too busy

        To lay them things.”

 

      “I’m not a King

        And I haven’t a crown;

      I climb up trees,

        And I tumble down.

      I can shut one eye,

        I can count to ten,

      So lay me an egg, please,

        Little Black Hen.”

 

      The Little Black Hen said,

        “What will you pay,

      If I lay you an egg

        For Easter Day?”

 

      “I’ll give you a Please

        And a How-do-you-do,

      I’ll show you the Bear

        Who lives in the Zoo,

      I’ll show you the nettle-place

        On my leg,

      If you’ll lay me a great big

        Eastery egg.”

 

      The Little Black Hen

        Said “I don’t care

      For a How-do-you-do

        Or a Big-brown-bear,

      But I’ll lay you a beautiful

        Eastery egg,

      If you’ll show me the nettle-place

        On your leg.”

 

      I showed her the place

        Where I had my sting.

      She touched it gently

        With one black wing.

      “Nettles don’t hurt

        If you count to ten.

      And now for the egg,”

        Said the Little Black Hen.

 

      When I wake up

        On Easter Day,

      I shall see my egg

        She’s promised to lay.

      If I were Emperors,

        If I were Kings,

      It couldn’t be fuller

        Of wonderful things.

 

      Berryman and Baxter,

        Prettiboy and Penn,

      And Old Farmer Middleton

        Are five big men.

      All of them are wanting

        An egg for their tea,

But the Little Black Hen is much too busy,

The Little Black Hen is much too busy,

The Little Black Hen is MUCH too busy . . .

        She’s laying my egg for me!

The Friend

There are lots and lots of people who are always asking things,

Like Dates and Pounds-and-ounces and the names of funny Kings,

And the answer’s either Sixpence or A Hundred Inches Long,

And I know they’ll think me silly if I get the answer wrong.

 

So Pooh and I go whispering, and Pooh looks very bright,

And says, “Well, I say sixpence, but I don’t suppose I’m right.”

And then it doesn’t matter what the answer ought to be,

’Cos if he’s right, I’m Right, and if he’s wrong, it isn’t Me.

The Good Little Girl

It’s funny how often they say to me, “Jane?

  “Have you been a good girl?”

  “Have you been a good girl?”

And when they have said it, they say it again,

  “Have you been a good girl?”

  “Have you been a good girl?”

 

I go to a party, I go out to tea,

I go to an aunt for a week at the sea,

I come back from school or from playing a game;

Wherever I come from, it’s always the same:

  “Well?

  “Have you been a good girl, Jane?”

 

It’s always the end of the loveliest day:

  “Have you been a good girl?”

  “Have you been a good girl?”

I went to the Zoo, and they waited to say:

  “Have you been a good girl?”

  “Have you been a good girl?”

 

Well, what did they think that I went there to do?

And why should I want to be bad at the Zoo?

And should I be likely to say if I had?

So that’s why it’s funny of Mummy and Dad,

This asking and asking, in case I was bad,

  “Well?

  “Have you been a good girl, Jane?”

A Thought

If I were John and John were Me,

Then he’d be six and I’d be three.

If John were Me and I were John,

I shouldn’t have these trousers on.

King Hilary and the Beggarman

Of Hilary the Great and Good

    They tell a tale at Christmas time

I’ve often thought the story would

Be prettier but just as good

If almost anybody should

    Translate it into rime.

So I have done the best I can

For lack of some more learned man.

 

    Good King Hilary

    Said to his Chancellor

    (Proud Lord Willoughby,

    Lord High Chancellor):

    “Run to the wicket-gate

    Quickly, quickly,

    Run to the wicket-gate

        And see who is knocking.

    It may be a rich man.

    Sea-borne from Araby,

    Bringing me peacocks,

    Emeralds and ivory;

    It may be a poor man,

Travel-worn and weary,

Bringing me oranges

    To put in my stocking.”

 

Proud Lord Willoughby,

Lord High Chancellor,

    Laughed both loud and free:*

“I’ve served Your Majesty, man to man,

Since first Your Majesty’s reign began,

And I’ve often walked, but I never, never ran,

    Never, never, never,” quoth he.


Haw! Haw! Haw!

    Good King Hilary

    Said to his Chancellor

    (Proud Lord Willoughby,

    Lord High Chancellor):

    “Walk to the wicket-gate

Quickly, quickly,

Walk to the wicket-gate

    And see who is knocking.

 

It may be a captain,

Hawk-nosed, bearded,

Bringing me gold-dust,

Spices, and sandalwood:

It may be a scullion,

Care-free, whistling,

Bringing me sugar-plums

    To put in my stocking.”

 

Proud Lord Willoughby,

Lord High Chancellor,

    Laughed both loud and free:

“I’ve served in the Palace since I was four,

And I’ll serve in the Palace a-many years more,

And I’ve opened a window, but never a door,

    Never, never, never,” quoth he.

 

    Good King Hilary

    Said to his Chancellor

    (Proud Lord Willoughby,

    Lord High Chancellor):

    “Open the window

Quickly, quickly,

Open the window

    And see who is knocking.

 

It may be a waiting-maid

Apple-cheeked, dimpled,

Sent by her mistress

To bring me greeting;

It may be children.

Anxious, whispering,

Bringing me cobnuts,

    To put in my stocking.”

 

Proud Lord Willoughby,

Lord High Chancellor,

    Laughed both loud and free;

“I’ll serve Your Majesty till I die—

As Lord Chancellor, not as spy

To peep from lattices; no, not I,

    Never, never, never,” quoth he.

 

Good King Hilary

Looked at his Chancellor

(Proud Lord Willoughby,

Lord High Chancellor):

He said no word

To his stiff-set Chancellor,

But ran to the wicket-gate

    To see who was knocking.

He found no rich man

Trading from Araby;

He found no captain,

Blue-eyed, weather-tanned;

He found no waiting-maid

Sent by her mistress;

But only a beggarman

    With one red stocking.

 

Good King Hilary

Looked at the beggarman,

    And laughed him three times three;

And he turned that beggarman round about:

“Your thews are strong, and your arm is stout;

Come, throw me a Lord High Chancellor out,

    And take his place,” quoth he.

 

Of Hilary the Good and Great

Old wives at Christmas time relate

This tale, which points, at any rate,

    Two morals on the way.

The first: “Whatever Fortune brings,

Don’t be afraid of doing things.

(Especially, of course, for Kings.)

    It also seems to say

(But not so wisely): “He who begs

With one red stocking on his legs

Will be, as sure as eggs are eggs,

    A Chancellor some day.

Swing Song

Here I go up in my swing

  Ever so high.

I am the King of the fields, and the King

  Of the town.

I am the King of the earth, and the King

  Of the sky.

Here I go up in my swing . . .

  Now I go down.

Explained

Elizabeth Ann

Said to her Nan:

“Please will you tell me how God began?

Somebody must have made Him. So

Who could it be, ’cos I want to know?”

And Nurse said, “Well!

And Ann said, “Well?

I know you know, and I wish you’d tell.”

And Nurse took pins from her mouth, and said,

“Now then, darling, it’s time for bed.”

 

Elizabeth Ann

Had a wonderful plan:

She would run round the world till she found a man

Who knew exactly how God began.

She got up early, she dressed, and ran

Trying to find an Important Man.

She ran to London and knocked at the door

Of the Lord High Doodelum’s coach-and-four.

“Please, sir (if there’s anyone in),

However-and-ever did God begin?”

 

The Lord High Doodelum lay in bed,

But out of the window, large and red,

Came the Lord High Coachman’s face instead.

And the Lord High Coachman laughed and said:

“Well, what put that in your quaint little head?”

 

Elizabeth Ann went home again

And took from the ottoman Jennifer Jane.

“Jenniferjane,” said Elizabeth Ann,

“Tell me at once how God began.”

And Jane, who didn’t much care for speaking,

Replied in her usual way by squeaking.

 

What did it mean? Well, to be quite candid,

I don’t know, but Elizabeth Ann did.

Elizabeth Ann said softly, “Oh!

Thank you, Jennifer. Now I know.”

Twice Times

There were Two little Bears who lived in a Wood,

And one of them was Bad and the other was Good.

Good Bear learnt his Twice Times One—

But Bad Bear left all his buttons undone.

 

They lived in a Tree when the weather was hot,

And one of them was Good, and the other was Not.

Good Bear learnt his Twice Times Two—

But Bad Bear’s thingummies were worn right through.

 

They lived in a Cave when the weather was cold,

And they Did, and they Didn’t Do, what they were told.

Good Bear learnt his Twice Times Three—

But Bad Bear never had his hand-ker-chee.

 

They lived in the Wood with a Kind Old Aunt,

And one said “Yes’m,” and the other said “Shan’t!

Good Bear learnt his Twice Times Four—

But Bad Bear’s knicketies were terrible tore.

 

And then quite suddenly (just like Us)

One got Better and the other got Wuss.

Good Bear muddled his Twice Times Three—

But Bad Bear coughed in his hand-ker-chee!

 

Good Bear muddled his Twice Times Two—

But Bad Bear’s thingummies looked like new.

Good Bear muddled his Twice Times One—

But Bad Bear never left his buttons undone.

 

There may be a Moral, though some say not;

I think there’s a moral, though I don’t know what.

But if one gets better, as the other gets wuss,

These Two Little Bears are just like Us.

For Christopher remembers up to Twice Times Ten . . .

But I keep forgetting where I’ve put my pen.*


So I have had to write this one in pencil.

The Morning Walk

When Anne and I go out a walk,

We hold each other’s hand and talk

Of all the things we mean to do

When Anne and I are forty-two.

 

And when we’ve thought about a thing,

Like bowling hoops or bicycling,

Or falling down on Anne’s balloon,

We do it in the afternoon.

Cradle Song

O Timothy Tim

  Has ten pink toes,

  And ten pink toes

Has Timothy Tim.

They go with him

  Wherever he goes,

  And wherever he goes

They go with him.

 

O Timothy Tim

  Has two blue eyes,

  And two blue eyes

Has Timothy Tim.

They cry with him

  Whenever he cries,

  And whenever he cries,

They cry with him.

 

O Timothy Tim

  Has one red head,

  And one red head

Has Timothy Tim.

It sleeps with him

  In Timothy’s bed.

  Sleep well, red head

Of Timothy Tim.

Waiting at the Window

These are my two drops of rain

Waiting on the window-pane.

 

I am waiting here to see

Which the winning one will be.

 

Both of them have different names.

One is John and one is James.

 

All the best and all the worst

Comes from which of them is first.

 

James has just begun to ooze.

He’s the one I want to lose.

 

John is waiting to begin.

He’s the one I want to win.

 

James is going slowly on.

Something sort of sticks to John.

 

John is moving off at last.

James is going pretty fast.

 

John is rushing down the pane.

James is going slow again.

 

James has met a sort of smear.

John is getting very near.

 

Is he going fast enough?

(James has found a piece of fluff.)

 

John has hurried quickly by.

(James was talking to a fly.)

 

John is there, and John has won!

Look! I told you! Here’s the sun!

Pinkle Purr

Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,

A little black nothing of feet and fur;

And by-and-by, when his eyes came through,

He saw his mother, the big Tattoo.

And all that he learned he learned from her.

“I’ll ask my mother,” says Pinkle Purr.

 

Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,

A ridiculous kitten with silky fur.

And little black Pinkie grew and grew

Till he got as big as the big Tattoo.

And all that he did he did with her.

“Two friends together,” says Pinkle Purr.

 

Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,

An adventurous cat in a coat of fur.

And whenever he thought of a thing to do,

He didn’t much bother about Tattoo,

For he knows it’s nothing to do with her,

So “See you later,” says Pinkle Purr.

 

Tattoo is the mother of Pinkle Purr,

An enormous leopard with coal-black fur.

A little brown kitten that’s nearly new

Is now playing games with its big Tattoo . . .

And Pink looks lazily down at her:

“Dear little Tat,” says Pinkle Purr.

Wind on the Hill

No one can tell me,

  Nobody knows,

Where the wind comes from,

  Where the wind goes.

 

It’s flying from somewhere

  As fast as it can,

I couldn’t keep up with it,

  Not if I ran.

 

But if I stopped holding

  The string of my kite,

It would blow with the wind

  For a day and a night.

 

And then when I found it,

  Wherever it blew,

I should know that the wind

  Had been going there too.

 

So then I could tell them

  Where the wind goes . . .

But where the wind comes from

  Nobody knows.

Forgotten

Lords of the Nursery

  Wait in a row,

Five on the high wall,

  And four on the low;

Big Kings and Little Kings,

  Brown Bears and Black,

All of them waiting

  Till John comes back.

 

Some think that John boy

  Is lost in the wood.

Some say he couldn’t be,

  Some say he could.

Some think that John boy

  Hides on the hill;

Some say he won’t come back,

  Some say he will.

 

High was the sun, when

  John went away . . .

Here they’ve been waiting

  All through the day;

Big Bears and Little Bears,

  White Kings and Black,

All of them waiting

  Till John comes back.

 

Lords of the Nursery

  Looked down the hill,

Some saw the sheep-fold,

  Some saw the mill;

Some saw the roofs

  Of the little grey town . . .

And their shadows grew long

  As the sun slipt down.

 

Gold between the poplars

  An old moon shows;

Silver up the star-way

  The full moon rose;

Silver down the star-way

  The old moon crept . . .

And, one by another,

  The grey fields slept.

 

Lords of the Nursery

  Their still watch keep . . .

They hear from the sheep-fold

  The rustle of sheep.

A young bird twitters

  And hides its head;

A little wind suddenly

  Breathes, and is dead.

 

Slowly and slowly

  Dawns the new day . . .

What’s become of John boy?

  No one can say.

Some think that John boy

  Is lost on the hill;

Some say he won’t come back,

  Some say he will.

 

What’s become of John boy?

  Nothing at all,

He played with his skipping rope,

  He played with his ball.

He ran after butterflies,

  Blue ones and red;

He did a hundred happy things—

  And then went to bed.

In the Dark

I’ve had my supper,

  And had my supper,

    And HAD my supper and all;

I’ve heard the story

  Of Cinderella,

    And how she went to the ball;

I’ve cleaned my teeth.

  And I’ve said my prayers,

    And I’ve cleaned and said them right;

And they’ve all of them been

  And kissed me lots,

    They’ve all of them said “Good-night.”

 

So—here I am in the dark alone,

  There’s nobody here to see;

        I think to myself,

        I play to myself,

    And nobody knows what I say to myself;

Here I am in the dark alone,

    What is it going to be?

I can think whatever I like to think,

I can play whatever I like to play,

I can laugh whatever I like to laugh,

    There’s nobody here but me.

 

I’m talking to a rabbit . . .

      I’m talking to the sun . . .

I think I am a hundred—

      I’m one.

I’m lying in a forest . . .

      I’m lying in a cave . . .

I’m talking to a Dragon . . .

      I’m BRAVE.

I’m lying on my left side . . .

      I’m lying on my right . . .

I’ll play a lot tomorrow . . .

      . . . . . . .

I’ll think a lot tomorrow . . .

      . . . . . . .

I’ll laugh . . .

                  a lot . . .

                          tomorrow . . .

                  (Heigh-ho!)

                            Good-night.

The End

        When I was One,

        I had just begun.

 

        When I was Two,

        I was nearly new.

 

        When I was Three,

        I was hardly Me.

 

        When I was Four,

        I was not much more.

 

        When I was Five,

        I was just alive.

 

But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever.

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

 

 

[The end of Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne]