Kids Can Like Poetry, Too

Eugene Field

When I was a little girl, sometimes my mother would read to me from a collection of poetry that had been given to her when she was only 4. Poems of Childhood by Eugene Field was first published in 1904, and contains many sentimental, almost fairy tale poems such as “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” “Little Boy Blue” (which always makes me tear up) and “The Duel.” Though he wrote other things, Field became known primarily for his poems for children. My very favorite of these poems is “The Sugar Plum Tree,” probably because there was a beautiful illustration accompanying this poem and maybe also because my grandparents had a large apricot tree. Anyway, it might not be e.e. cummings (we’ll get to him later), but it’s a sweet little thing to me. I hope you and the sweet little things in your life enjoy this one.

The Sugar Plum Tree

Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
‘Tis a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;

The Sugar-Plum Tree, by Maxfield Parrish

The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.

When you’ve got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog below —
And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:

You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb to that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground–
Hurrah for that chocolate cat!

There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I’ll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.

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