(Yes, I’m still a day behind. I hope to get the Day 15 post up tonight; I have the recordings done, but it’s the research and writing that take more time.)
For a change of pace, tonight, and for a couple of nights more, I’ll be sharing some favorite Christmas poems. The first two are story poems, somewhat (but not entirely) humorous.
”King John’s Christmas” was written by A. A. Milne (1882-1956) and appears in his collection Now We Are Six. Milne, as you all know, was also the author of the Winnie the Pooh books (Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner), as well as another book of children’s verse, When We Were Very Young. He did not confine himself to children’s books and indeed was rather miffed that those were what he was best known for. He wrote many plays, essays, and even a murder mystery. King John himself, the only one of that name to wear the Crown of England, was indeed rather a bad man, as those of us who are familiar with the Robin Hood stories know. To go with this poem, which has King John writing a letter to Father Christmas, we have “When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter,” from the prolific Christmas songwriter Johnny Marks. (“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Run Run Rudolph,” and “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” are but three of his other songs.) This song is sung by “Cactus Jim and the Wranglers,” a 50s studio band.
Ogden Nash (1902-1971), a mid-20th-century American poet, wrote primarily light humorous verse and was known for his skillful wordplay. (Notice his rhyming of “kittens” with “Admittance” for example.) His cautionary tale, “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus,” is accompanied by a fine example of doo-wop, “I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus,” by The Boulevards. But don’t worry – both these poems prove that Santa Claus really does exist!Up to this year I had only recorded a couple of other poems for Christmas. One of them forms part of tonight’s alternate reading. “Jest ‘Fore Christmas,” by Eugene Field, is a poem I first encountered in the Book of Knowledge, a wonderful children’s encyclopedia/anthology I had as a child. And I still have it, except for one volume which mysteriously disappeared. For more about “Jest ‘Fore Christmas” and its accompanying story and song, go here.
Individual Files for Mac Users
Self-Extracting Zip Files for the Rest of UsDecember 14 2010 December 6 2006