Thursday Short Poem: Cope’s “Nursery Rhyme”

Heloise’s favorite nursery rhyme is Baa Baa Black Sheep, and she sang it frequently with my mother over the Independence Day holiday. Wendy Cope, who is famous not least for her ability to mimic the work of other poets, offers the Wordsworth version of that famous children’s ditty. If you know Wordsworth, this is very funny. If you don’t know Wordsworth, not so much.

A Nursery Rhyme

as it might have been written by William Wordsworth

The skylark and the jay sang loud and long.
The sun was calm and bright, the air was sweet,
When all at once I heard above the throng
Of jocund birds a single plaintive bleat.

And, turning, saw, as one sees in a dream,
It was a Sheep had broke the moorland peace
With his sad cry, a creature who did seem
The blackest thing that ever wore a fleece.

I walked towards him on the stony track
And, pausing, for a while between two crags,
I asked him, ‘Have you wool upon your back?’
Thus he bespake, ‘Enough to fill three bags.’

Most courteously, in measured tones, he told
Who would receive each bag and where they dwelt;
And oft, now years have passed and I am old,
I recollect with joy that inky pelt.