Friday Poetry: my favourite poem when I was little

Old-Lady-Who-Swallowed-a-Fly-rhymesYesterday The Good Reading Guide started running a competition on their Facebook page, asking readers what their favourite book was as a child. This simple question took me far too long to answer.

Should I say Seven Little Australians because it’s an Australian classic? Should I say Ballet Shoes because I always loved the descriptions of the clothes? Should I say Ginger Meggs because I read those comics obsessively?

Finally I decided to put down the truth, even though it sounded a little strange. From the moment I read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy in year 4, I completely fell in love. I wanted to be as adventurous as Sir Percy, as beautiful as Lady Marguerite and I even wanted to live in a time when Madame Guillotine could come to chop off your head.

It was a relief to write the truth. However this question got me thinking – what was my favourite poem as a child? From a young age, I was marched off to many, many, many drama eisteddfods. The first poem I ever performed was ‘Poor Old Fish’ about a fish that was killed by over feeding. I think my favourite poem was ‘I know an Old Lady’. My Dad used to read it to us and it’s completely ridiculous. I think I enjoyed how things become progressively worse for this poor old lady.  Also as a child I never liked poems that were very realistic. Who wants real life when you’re dreaming about far way lands and the French revolution?

 

I know and Old Lady

Rose Bonne and Alan Mills

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a bird
How absurd to swallow a bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed the fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a cat
Imagine that. She swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a dog
What a hog to swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a goat
Opened her throat and down went the goat!
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a cow
I don’t know how she swallowed the cow
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die

I know an old lady who swallowed a horse
She’s alive and well of course!

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