Can it really be true? The nation – AKA 2,000 people polled for Waitrose – has put Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Humpty Flipping Dumpty ahead of Jabberwocky in a vote for the UK’s favourite children’s poem. Seriously, world? Or more accurately: seriously, 2,000 people?
The top 10 is a bemusing mishmash of nursery rhymes and actual poems, thankfully topped by Edward Lear and his elegant fowl, and also featuring Wordsworth – because many a child, I’m sure, is a fan of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.
Perhaps I’m grumpy because, with a one-year-old, I am utterly nursery rhymed-out. We listen to them in the car to stop her crying, we read them endlessly at home, we debate their finer points with our three-year-old (“What is whipping them soundly?”). Lear and Carroll aside, when it comes to a ranking of “the top 10 poems from childhood”, surely we can do better than “up above the world so high/ Like a diamond in the sky”?
Where’s Macavity? (“He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.”). Where’s The Jumblies (“far and few, far and few”)? Where’sMatilda? (“For every time She shouted ‘Fire!’/ They only answered ‘Little Liar!’/ And therefore when her Aunt returned,/ Matilda, and the House, were burned.”)
Daddy Fell Into the Pond still makes me laugh. So does the Adventures of Isabel (“Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry/ Isabel didn’t scream or scurry/ She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up/ Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up”). And the rhythms of The Highwayman (“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees” ) still echo in my head.
How about you? Perhaps we can come up with an alternative, nursery rhyme-free list. Or are you all, really truly, fans of Humpty Dumpty?