5 Classic Children’s Poems (January): Thackeray, Watts, Carroll, Hogg, & Wordsworth

Happy New Year! Here at Pure in Heart Stories, we’ve decided that this year we would love to introduce classic poetry (and the occasional illustration) for both kids and adults to enjoy together. Every month we will deliver five classic poems to your inbox from a range of poets, topics, and moods. Each have the potential to be a springboard for learning and discussion, or just pure enjoyment.

These poems come from various books and internet sources, all in the public domain. We hope they inspire you, entertain you, and give you unexpected delight.

Don’t forget—we open for submissions on February 7th. Learn how to submit here.

At the Zoo
by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)

First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black;
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;
Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;
Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;
Then I saw the elephant a-waving of his trunk;
Then I saw the monkeys—mercy, how unpleasantly they smelt!


The Boy Who Never Told a Lie.
by Isaac Watts (1674–1748)

Once there was a little boy,
    With curly hair and pleasant eye—
A boy who always told the truth,
    And never, never told a lie.

And when he trotted off to school,
    The children all about would cry,
“There goes the curly-headed boy—
    The boy that never tells a lie.”

And everybody loved him so,
    Because he always told the truth,
That every day, as he grew up,
    ‘Twas said, “There goes the honest youth.”

And when the people that stood near
    Would turn to ask the reason why,
The answer would always be this:
    “Because he never tells a lie.”


The Crocodile
by Lewis Carroll (1832–1898)

How doth the little crocodile
     Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
     On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
     How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
     With gently smiling jaws!


A Boy’s Song
by James Hogg (1770–1835)

Where the pools are bright and deep,
Where the gray trout lies asleep,
Up the river and o’er the lea,
That’s the way for Billy and me.

Where the blackbird sings the latest,
Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
That’s the way for Billy and me.

Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
There to trace the homeward bee,
That’s the way for Billy and me.

Where the hazel bank is steepest,
Where the shadow falls the deepest,
Where the clustering nuts fall free,
That’s the way for Billy and me.

Why the boys should drive away
Little sweet maidens from the play,
Or love to banter and fight so well,
That’s the thing I never could tell.

But this I know, I love to play,
Through the meadow, among the hay;
Up the water and o’er the lea,
That’s the way for Billy and me.


I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


Image: “Vintage Mother’s Day” found at Free Vintage Illustrations (Public Domain).

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