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Mr Toad -- Kenneth Grahame

       
(Poem #799) Mr Toad
 The world has held great Heroes,
  As history-books have showed;
 But never a name to go down to fame
  Compared with that of Toad!

 The clever men at Oxford
  Know all that there is to be knowed.
 But they none of them know one half as much
  As intelligent Mr Toad!

 The animals sat in the Ark and cried,
  Their tears in torrents flowed.
 Who was it said, "There's land ahead"?
  Encouraging Mr Toad!

 The army all saluted
  As they marched along the road.
 Was it the King? Or Kitchener?
  No. It was Mr Toad.

 The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting
  Sat at the window and sewed.
 She cried, "Look! Who's that HANDSOME man?"
  They answered, "Mr Toad."
-- Kenneth Grahame
 From "The Wind in the Willows", first published in 1908.
 Sung (loudly) by Toad, after his escape from prison and sundry other
inconveniences.

"The Wind in the Willows" is one of a select group of books that fully
deserve the name 'classic'. From its publication in 1908 to the present day,
the adventures of Mole, Rat, Otter, Badger and the irrepressible Toad (of
Toad Hall) have enthralled young and old alike...

... oh dear, I'm beginning to sound like a publisher's blurb. Damnation!

Anyway. The Wind in the Willows truly is a classic. It's a book of many
moods: the beauty and mystery of the Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the
enchantment of the Sea Rat's spellbinding tales, the thrills (and spills) of
Toad's rollicking adventures, the terror of the Wild Wood, the humour and
simplicity and joy of Ratty's escapades, the enthusiasm and loyalty of
Mole... it's all there and it's all magical, utterly magical. Grahame
creates a world that's utterly convincing, and utterly true. And underlying
it all is a gentle nostalgia, a quietness and ineffable peace that suffuses
his portrayal of the Thames riverbank. Wonderful.

thomas.

[Biography]

 born March 8, 1859, Edinburgh, Scot.
 died July 6, 1932, Pangbourne, Berkshire, Eng.

Author of The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the English classics of
children's literature. Its animal characters -- principally Mole, Rat,
Badger, and Toad -- combine captivating human traits with authentic animal
habits. It is a story that adults have enjoyed as much as children.

Orphaned at an early age, Grahame went to live with his grandmother in
England and attended St. Edward's School, Oxford. Money was lacking for him
to go to the university; hence his family guided him into a career at the
Bank of England, with which he stayed until ill health compelled him to
retire in 1907. Meanwhile he contributed articles to such journals as the
St. James Gazette and the Yellow Book and published collections of sketches,
stories, and essays -- Pagan Papers (1893), The Golden Age (1895), and Dream
Days (1898) -- all of which reveal his sensitive understanding of childhood.

The Wind in the Willows was dramatized by A. A. Milne as Toad of Toad Hall
(1930) and became a frequently performed Christmas play.

        -- EB

[Links]

Here's the complete text of Grahame's classic:
http://www.literatureproject.com/wind-willows/index.htm

Here's Winnie-the-Pooh:
[broken link] http://www.machaon.ru/pooh/

And here are some poems by A. A. Milne to have featured on the Minstrels:
Poem #91, "Cottleston Pie"
Poem #463, "Disobedience"
Poem #562, "The King's Breakfast"
Poem #576, "Tra-la-la, tra-la-la"

Incidentally, both Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows share the
distinction of being transcriptions of bedtime stories told by their
creators to their sons (Christopher Robin Milne and Alastair Grahame,
respectively).

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