Friday, October 2, 2009

Poetry Friday: Disobedience

I have been intending to write about my semi-star-studded commute the other day, but that post is yet to be committed to this blog. But as it's poetry Friday, and in honor (?) of the new Winnie-the-Pooh book, which was published today, here is A. A. Milne's glorious "Disobedience," instead. It pounded through my head all the way home tonight, from 59th Street to the upper 100's.

It's an old favorite of mine -- I used to recite it to my daughter as I pushed her on the swings in Hippo Park. And I used it as a choral speaking exercise at the Vermont College of Fine Arts one summer (a young David Levithan was in the audience, I believe). So here's "Disobedience" for you. Try to keep it from lodging in your brain for just about ever.

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he;
"You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don't go down with me."

James James
Morrison's Mother
Put on a golden gown.
James James Morrison's Mother
Drove to the end of town.
James James Morrison's Mother
Said to herself, said she:
"I can get right down
to the end of the town
and be back in time for tea."

King John
Put up a notice,
"LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
JAMES JAMES MORRISON'S MOTHER
SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
LAST SEEN
WANDERING VAGUELY:
QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,
SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN
TO THE END OF THE TOWN --
FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!"


James James
Morrison Morrison
(Commonly known as Jim)
Told his
Other relations
Not to go blaming him.
James James
Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he:
"You must never go down to the end of the town
without consulting me."

James James
Morrison's mother
Hasn't been heard of since.
King John said he was sorry,
So did the Queen and Prince.
King John
(Somebody told me)
Said to a man he knew:
"If people go down to the end of the town,
What can anyone do?"

(Now, then, very softly)
J. J.
M. M.
W. G. du P.
Took great c/o his M*****
Though he was only 3
J. J. said to his M******
"M*****," he said, said he,
"You-must-never-go-down-to-the-end-of-the-town
if-you-don't-go-down-with-ME!"

-- A. A. Milne

12 comments:

brattcat said...

I'm slipping into my gold gown this instant. Meet me at the end of town the moment you get away. We'll take our tea there (you can pour) and we'll never tell where we've gone.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Since I went from mother's milk to Milne, he became the gold standard by which I measure everything I read. His words don't tarnish. Thanks, Brenda for reminding us of this trit trot of a poem.

susiej said...

Absolutely charming. Thanks for posting. I can only wish my no- longer-3-year-old son would want to keep such tabs on me.

Rick Daley said...

That has a great meter, what a fun poem. It reminds me of the last pages of I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER with the son caring for the mother.

polycotte said...

Re photo -- who is that fetching creature? And how can she possibly have a three year old?

Lauren T

Caroline Starr Rose said...

James James Morrison Morrison was my favorite as a girl. Just last week I was reciting Lines and Squares for my boys as they stepped from kitchen tile to tile. Milne brings back wonderful memories.

I posted about New Pooh last week. If you read the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner, it's clear Christopher Robin is growing up. There are no new stories to tell.

As respectful and thorough as Benedictus has been with his study and work, I just can't pick it up. It's not Milne, and Pooh is done.

Nina said...

Oh, this was always my favorite, and I can still recite it from memory. Used to drive my family NUTS reciting it while marching around the house. It's such a great introduction to poetry recitation for kids, because it's easy to remember, seems impressively long, and comes complete with built-in dramatic cues.

Emily Thomas Meehan said...

James loves the Muppet Show and this little AA Milne ditty is one of his faves:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI2QGGvh2oE

Sheila said...

I'm with Caroline in my reaction to a "new" Pooh. Why mess with perfection?

I'd forgotten the title of Milne's poem but thought, oh, yes, as soon as I started to read it. When my daughter had a birthday in kindergarten, she recited "Now I am Six," in front of the class. (She's now a middle school librarian, who knows better than to give her small daughter any Disney versions of Pooh or Grammy will be upset.)

Cara'boutYou said...

My daughter keeps requesting "again". Thanks for posting. I had forgotten this poem, but not really, as you said, it stays with you.
Cara
Cara'bout You Books
www.caraaboutyou.com

Amy said...

My mother and brother do a duet of this poem.

anniegill said...

I wonder what happened to JJMM's mother. Maybe she trod on the lines and the bears got her? Any other ideas?