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Wynken, Blynken, and Nod -- Eugene Field

(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,
                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,
                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:
                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:--
                And Nod.
-- Eugene Field
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

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,

     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.


There's an extensive collection of Field's work at

An excellent biography: [broken link]

"Boys and Girls Come Out to Play":

The Land of Counterpane:

- martin

14 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Terry Dilger said...

I'm almost 70 years old and my mother used to sing this song to me when I was a tiny child. This is the first time I've been able to see the whole poem since I'm almost grown up. Thank you for publishing it! Terry

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