This page is for kids. But anyone over that age can read it too. And since adults are often out looking for poems for young ones, welcome to you as well. Most of these poems are taken from my archives, but I wanted to put them on a separate page just for kids.
I hope you enjoyed The Catipoce. And now it’s time for a new poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was published in 1886, in a book called A Child’s Garden of Verses but is still very popular. If you scroll down you can hear it read by Billy Connolly. And you might like to have a look at your own shadow. We don’t usually notice them but they are such fun to play with.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
When I was small my mother introduced me to James Reeves’ writing via a book called Prefabulous Anamiles. For some reason this is the one that truly grabbed at my imagination. You can find it now in a book called Complete Poems For Children by James Reeves.
‘Oh Harry, Harry, hold me close
I fear some animile.
It is the horny Catipoce
With her outrageous smile!’
Thus spoke the maiden in alarm;
She had good cause to fear:
The Catipoce can do great harm,
If any come too near.
Despite her looks, do not presume
The creature’s ways are mild;
For many have gone mad on whom
The Catipoce has smiled.
She lurks in woods at close of day
Among the toadstools soft,
Or sprawls on musty sacks and hay
In cellar, barn, or loft.
Behind neglected rubbish-dumps
At dusk your blood will freeze
Only to glimpse her horny humps
And hear her fatal sneeze.
Run, run! adventurous boy or girl—
Run home, and do not pause
To feel her breath around you curl,
And tempt her carrion claws.
Avoid her face: for underneath
That gentle, fond grimace
Lie four-and-forty crooked teeth—
My dears, avoid her face!
‘Oh Harry, Harry! hold me close,
And hold me close awhile;
It is the odious Catipoce
With her devouring smile!’
The poem and illustration, are taken from Complete Poems For Children, by James Reeves and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. (Classic Mammoth, First Published in Great Britain, 1994.) Reissued 2001 by Egmont Books Ltd, London. Permission to publish the illustrations and the poem have been granted from the author and artist’s estates.
Prefabulous Anamiles by James Reeves, was the name of the book in which I first read this poem. It was published in 1957 by William Heinemann, London. It was followed by More Prefabulous Animiles.