Book of poetry always delights

Published 1:50 am Saturday, February 27, 2016

Years ago while pursuing one of his favorite hobbies, searching for books, my husband found “Rainbow in the Sky,” a delightful volume of poetry. Every time I thumb through the heavy dog-eared book tucked in a shelf, I wonder if today’s children learn those same counting-out rhyme game-jingles we did in my childhood.

It just might give one a clue to your age if you remember repeating, “Deedle, deedle dumpling, my son John,” and “To market, to market, to buy a fat pig.” And does “Fiddle-de-dee, fiddle-de-dee, the fly shall marry the bumble-bee,” come to mind?

I have such fun thumbing through that book. Published with a notation it was a wartime book, it was produced in compliance with government regulations in regard to conserving paper. As I have mentioned in previous columns, when I get my hands on a volume of verse, I always search out verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. They recall pleasant memories of exploring wonderful word pictures.

One of the chapters in “Rainbow in the Sky” is devoted to riddles in rhyme. Some of them stumped me. There was no reference to the answers. Try this one: “A houseful, a roomful, you can’t catch a spoonful.” After puzzling over that, I found this one: “Railroad crossing, look out for the cars. Bet you can’t spell it, without any Rs.”

In a chapter titled “Winds, Weathers, Seasons, and Charms,” I found four spring poems, a summer one, and one called “Snow.” I liked the weather prediction ones, such as “Rainbow at night is the sailor’s delight,” and a “Sunshiny shower won’t last an hour.” I do not think I had ever heard “Winter’s thunder is the world’s wonder.”

I know everyone is familiar with those old wives’ tales about sneezing: “Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger. Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger.”

Probably some time in your childhood, you gazed up at the sky on a summer night and chanted “Star-light, star-bright, first star I see tonight…”

When I began reading the familiar, “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day,” I wondered how many times I had repeated it to my children when they found themselves marooned in the house because of sudden showers. I am sure both my daughter and son learned it by heart.

All 15 chapters of Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” were included in a category labeled, “I’ll Tell You a Story.” As I scanned through them, I knew I had never seen or read all of them before. Of course, also among the pages was the beloved, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” It brought a rush of memories that stretched from my children’s childhood to their own children. I cannot count how many times I read that poem to a child curled in my lap or snuggled beside me on a winter’s night.

I closed “Rainbow in the Sky” with expectations of another day when I will happen upon it to find more verse to delight me.

Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.