Sunday, April 28, 2013

national poetry month: washington irving

Washington Irving didn't write much poetry, but I discovered this lighthearted and seasonally appropriate offering from The Poems of Washington Irving, brought together from various sources by William R. Langfeld.

"The Lay of the Sunnyside Ducks" by Washington Irving
By Sunnyside bower runs a little Indian Brook,
As wild as wild can be;
It flow down from hills where Indians lived of old
To the might Tappan Sea.

And this little brook supplies a goodly little pond
Where the Sunnyside ducks do play,
Snowy white little ducks with topknots of their heads
And merry little ducks are they.

And high up the hill stands fair Jaffray Hall
Where a might chief doth dwell
And this little Indian brook flows through his lands
And its own little rugged dell.

And the Laird of Jaffray arose in his might
And he said to his wife one day,
“This little Indian brook, is an idle little brook
And shall no longer have its way.

No longer shall it run down to Sunnyside pond
Nor eke to the Tappan Sea.
I’ll stop it, with a dam, and pump it up hill with a ram
And make it work for a living,” said he.

“It shall run in pipes about of garden and lawn
Making jets and fountains clear.
It shall run upstairs and downstairs of Jaffray Hall,
And into your bathroom, my dear.”

Then the Sunnyside ducks they quaked with fear
And dolefully they did cry,
“Oh Laird of Jaffray pare our little brook,
Or we shall be left high and dry!”

But soon it appeared that his brave little brook
Defied the Laird of Jaffray’s skill;
For though he dammed the little brook, and rammed the little brook
The little brook still ran down hill.

Then the Sunnyside ducks again plucked up heart,
And got over their quanda –ry,
And the little brook still runs on to the Sunnyside pond
And the mighty Tappan Sea!
Per Langfeld, it was first published in From Pinafores to Politics by Mrs. J. Borden Harriman (aka Daisy Hurst Harriman). I haven't read From Pinafores to Politics, which I understand is an autobiography of the social reformer. It seems odd that this particular poem would be included in such a work, but I'll err on the side of trusting the reference since Langfeld is an Irving scholar (and bibliographer) and From Pinafores to Politics was published by New York Public Library, which has one of the most substantive Irving collections in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment