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Disobedience -- A A Milne

(Poem #463) Disobedience
          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 the 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
          LAST SEEN

          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 with-
       out 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, well,
       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:
-- A A Milne
Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet... Woozles, Jagulars and Heffalumps...   Honey...
Kanga and Roo, not to mention Tigger... are you feeling nostalgic yet? Milne's
tales of the Hundred Acre Wood need no introduction -  nor, for that matter,
contradiction <grin>. Seriously, though, I cannot imagine a childhood lived
without Edward Bear and his many friends, and I'm sure the same holds true for
people all over the world and of every generation.

Equally enchanting are Milne's books of light verse - 'When We Were Very Young',
and 'Now We Are Six'. The ballad of James James and his errant mother was my
favourite poem from the former; I'm told that when _I_ was very young, I used to
recite the entire thing at breakneck speed and earsplitting volume -
_especially_ the last stanza.

Ah, fond memories. And the truly wonderful thing is that I still get every bit
as much enjoyment from Milne today as I did back then. Sigh.


PS. Many thanks to my mother for suggesting I run this poem on the Minstrels,
and for typing it out for me (since I don't have a copy near at hand, more's the


  b. Jan. 18, 1882, London, Eng.
  d. Jan. 31, 1956, Hartfield, Sussex

in full ALAN ALEXANDER MILNE, English humorist, the originator of the immensely
popular stories of Christopher Robin and his toy bear, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Milne attended Westminster School, London, and Trinity College, Cambridge. In
1906 he joined the staff of Punch, writing humorous verse and whimsical essays
in a style that quickly dated. He achieved considerable success with a series of
light comedies such as Mr. Pim Passes By (1921) and Michael and Mary (1930).
Milne also wrote one memorable detective novel, The Red House Mystery (1922);
and a children's play, Make-Believe (1918), before stumbling upon his true
literary métier with some verses written for his son Christopher Robin. These
grew into the collections When We Were Very Young (1924) and Now We Are Six
(1927). These remain classics of light verse for children.

His most popular works were the two sets of stories about the adventures of
Christopher Robin and his toy animals--Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit,
Owl, and Eeyore--as told in Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner
(1928). Ernest Shepard's illustrations added to the books' charm. In 1929 Milne
adapted another children's classic, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame,
for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall. A decade later he wrote his autobiography,
It's Too Late Now.

37 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

On 21 Jun 2000, Abraham Thomas saw fit to inform me that:
> in full ALAN ALEXANDER MILNE, English humorist, the originator of the
> immensely popular stories of Christopher Robin and his toy bear,
> Winnie-the-Pooh.

P.G.Wodehouse would beg to differ :) Who was that chappie in the
Golf stories who kept writing soppy poetry - Rodney Spelvin?

Timothy Bobbin

Also, Bertie once made a real ass of himself trying to recite
Christopher Robbin.


Daniel Marsh said...

This is indeed a very amusing poem, though sometimes I wonder if there's
something more to it. You'll note the refferences are pretty specific--
there was only ever one King John of England (with good reason.) A friend
of mine said it had to do with espionage, but I have no idea if he's right.
At any rate, its funny, well-constructed, and that's the important part.

On a side note, I was once very surprised to hear a musical rendition of
this song by a band opening for the folk singer Dar Williams. They're
based out of Boston, called "Einstein's Little Homunculus," pretty good if
you like a sort of a fractured Celtic. The song is titled like the poem
"Disobedience." Once I recognized just what they were singing, I collapsed
with laughter.

golds_nm said...

I too used to love reciting this poem until one of my children asked me what happened to James Morrison's mother. Why didn't she come back? Does anyone have an answer?

Bettina Morton said...

I am thankful that this poem is here. If this poem wasn't here I would have been in a world of hurt. I have to recite "Disobedience" tomorrow for a grade in school.....

Kathryn Morton, age 12 at Rising Starr Middle School 7th grade

SiliNani said...

I have been searching for this poem for at least 30 years. It was one of my
favorites in grade school (eons ago) but never could remember the correct
title of it til today. Thanks a million. Silinani

James Pogue said...

Some 70 years ago, when I was about 5, a friend of my mother, who was British, would visit us on occasion. When she did, I would ask her to read to me from our AA Milne book, and always took great delight in hearing about "James, James". It brings back many memories, and now I recite it to my grandchildren.


jgindlesperger said...

As a teacher, I'm wondering how you would use this poem in the classroom and with what age group.
Please respond by Monday, July 22 before noon.

John and Lisa Fraser said...

This is one of my all time favorite poems and I woke today reciting it in
my head. Couldn't remember one verse and after a brief search- found
it. Thanks for posting it! And yes, there are many social comments of the
times within the poem.


adj said...

Thanks for putting this up - my husband recites the beginning of it but
remembered it as being from "Now we are six" only to find when we tried to
buy this volume that the poem wasn't included. So, now we shall be able
both to learn the second half of the poem and find the right book.


paulson_m said...

Just browsing through your random feature, I found this one ("Disobedience" by A.A. Milne).

One of the comments included a reference to a song by a folk group. I don't know if it's the same version, but the Chad Mitchell Trio had a musical version in the '60's. It was titled "James James Morrison Morrison" and was on their alblum "At the Bitter End".


Celine said...

My mother has gone to the end of the town, and without consulting me. Can anyone get help me in contact with Jim (J.J.M.M.W.G.Dupree) for more detailed advice on the matter? The dilly dally woman probably stood on the cracks in the pavement and was swallowed up by the bears.I shall have to do without.

moonwind said...

Thanks so much for having this. It means I don't have to call my son in Colorado after midnight to get the few words I can't remember.
My youngest son is 39 this year, and I can still reciete most of this [and many other] poem. Missed a few words in verse four and five.
We used to say this together when we were driving in the car. Thanks again. Carolyn Tingstad

Roelof James said...

My grandmother would recite this poem to me before I went to bed every
night I stayed at her house. She recently passed away but now I get the
joy of reading it to my 3 year old son from the same book that my
Grandmother used to read it to me. Thanks to the bard A. A. Milne.

James H. Roelof

Jim Morrison said...

Amazing Poem - and I never knew it was a poem by A.A. Milne. When I was a kid - we had an album by the "Chad Mitchell Trio." On it was this song, James James Morrison Morrison - and we always sang it. But, we never knew much about it. Now I know. Thanks.
Jim Morrison

Rhett Sampson said...

Many thanks for posting this. My mum used to read this to me when i was a
kid (along with all the other AA Milne wonderful stuff esp. Pooh). I can
still recite the first 2 verses to this day, but not the rest. She is quite
ill now and we are having (at her request) a "one for the road" concert for
her. I am going to recite this as my tribute to her (hope i can get through
it). I am amazed at how appropriate it has become now both for how she is
and my relationship with her. Perhaps Milne had an aging mum when he wrote
Rhett Sampson

Sydney, Australia

Folsom Mark said...

I too grew up around the Chad Mitchell Trio's version of this poem, and am delighted to learn that it's originally from AA Milne. For some strange reason I was inspired to sing the first verse to my 12 year old daughter in the car on the way to school this morning - and of course she looked at me like I was from outer space. That inspired me to go looking for the 'lyrics' --- now I can sing the whole thing to her and make her certain that I'm completely off my rocker! Oh the joy!
Thanks .... Mark B. Folsom

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Anonymous said...

looking for a post WW2 poem by Milne and all I remember is "and James James Morrison Morrison never came back from Dunkirk. Can anyone help me find it.

Anonymous said...

Why are all the poems so blurry? Makes them hard to read, I have perfect eyesight, so what's up.

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Lily Bonanza said...

I adore re-reading old poems for children, over and over. One of my favourites is 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat'. People don't write verse like this nowadays. Such a shame!

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