Tuesday, December 27, 2005

King John's Christmas

Son 3, he of the Big D, received for Christmas a lovely collection of the Winnie The Pooh poems. In it, I read for the first time in many years King John's Christmas. I think it's almost perfect, expecially for the maintenance of that tone of almost-faux gravity which captures the historical figure inside an almost-faux moral tale. It's always caught me from the second line.

King John was not a good man —
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air —
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon ...
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

The complete poem is here. Note Shepard's illustrations with their clever mixture of styles that reinforces so well the tone of the verse.

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