(Poem #967) Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
A Dutch Lullaby Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night Sailed off in a wooden shoe,-- Sailed on a river of crystal light Into a sea of dew. "Where are you going, and what do you wish?" The old moon asked the three. "We have come to fish for the herring fish That live in this beautiful sea; Nets of silver and gold have we!" Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. The old moon laughed and sang a song, As they rocked in the wooden shoe; And the wind that sped them all night long Ruffled the waves of dew. The little stars were the herring fish That lived in the beautiful sea-- "Now cast your nets wherever you wish,-- Never afeared are we!" So cried the stars to the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken, And Nod. All night long their nets they threw To the stars in the twinkling foam,-- Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe, Bringing the fishermen home: 'Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed As if it could not be; And some folk thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed Of sailing that beautiful sea; But I shall name you the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, And Nod. Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, And Nod is a little head, And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies Is a wee one's trundle-bed; So shut your eyes while Mother sings Of wonderful sights that be, And you shall see the beautiful things As you rock in the misty sea Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:-- Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
I was introduced to "The Children's Poet", Eugene Field at a Very Young Age, when I got a book with beautifully illustrated copies of 'The Duel' and 'Wynken, Blynken and Nod'. Even more than the illustrations, though, it was the words that fired my imagination - I would lie awake at night picturing a world inhabited with Gingham Dogs, Calico Cats, and, of course, three little fishermen sailing the skies in a trundle bed, alongside other favourites like Stevenson's "Land of Counterpane" and boys and girls Coming Out to Play. Rereading the poem with an older and more critical eye, I'm happy to say that it's lost little of its magic. The images are beautiful as ever, and if they no longer catch my imagination with quite the immersiveness and realism that they did in my childhood, I am better able to appreciate them for the sheer beauty of phrases like "sailed on a river of crystal light/ into a sea of dew" and the delightful aptness of "the little stars were the herring fish that sailed in the twinkling sea". I can see the difference between "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" and, as the poem had it, Wynken, Blynken, And Nod And above all, I can appreciate Field's mastery of the (far more difficult than it looks) art of children's poetry, and see just why he has taken his place among the immortals of that genre. Links: There's an extensive collection of Field's work at http://www.amherst.edu/~rjyanco/literature/eugenefield/menu.html An excellent biography: [broken link] http://empirezine.com/spotlight/field/field1.htm "Boys and Girls Come Out to Play": http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/motherg12.html The Land of Counterpane: http://www.bartleby.com/188/117.html - martin