I leaned over the snow mound and opened my mailbox, expecting to find the usual junk mail and bills. Instead I found a package.
I wasn’t expecting a package. It was a surprise. Isn’t that the best kind of package to get?
I opened the package to find a little book called Silver Pennies by Blanche Jennings Thompson and another little book, More Silver Pennies, also by Blanche Jennings Thompson.
And down the rabbit hole I went. Off in the distance I could hear the sender of the books, Leslie of Growing a Garden in Davis, saying to me “I knew you would like those books.” Thank you, Leslie, I love these books and the new world I’ve discovered in them.
These books, originally published in 1925 and 1938, are compilations of poems for children, written by various poets. Each has two parts, Part I for younger children and Part II for older children.
Silver Pennies? Ah, I’m glad you asked. “You must have a silver penny to get into Fairyland.”
Many of the poems included are about garden fairies and wee folk who live around gardens and woods and fields. Leslie knew I’d like these books.
Down in the rabbit hole, I looked for more information about Blanche Jennings Thompson. I know now that she was born in 1887 and was the head of the English Department at Benjamin Franklin High School in Rochester, New York. She wrote other books, mostly about saints, including Saint Elizabeth’s Three Crowns, When Saints Were Young, and Saints of the Byzantine World.
Thompson included instructions in Silver Pennies about how to get children interested in poetry. She ends with this description of poetry.
“If a poem is worthy at all, it isn’t tough–it is frail and exquisite, a mood, a moment of sudden understanding, a cobweb which falls apart at a clumsy touch.”
I’ve dipped into both books and found a few short poems to share on this wintry day.
Bee-balm for humming-birds,
Roses for the bee,
Larkspur for butterflies
And hollyhocks for me;
Blue flax for orioles
To mend their hanging nests,
But bee-blam for humming-birds,
Our ever-welcome guests
I feel warmer already, imaging my garden once again with flowers instead of snow.
I heard it in the valley,
I heard it in the glen;
Listen, children, surely, surely
Spring is coming back again!
I heard it in the valley,
I heard it on a hill,
I heard it where the bare trees stand,
Very brave and still.
I heard it in the valley –
I heard the waters start,
I heard it surely, surely,
I heard it in my heart!
Surely spring is on its way. While we wait for it, patiently, here’s one more poem from Silver Pennies. According to Thompson, the author was six when she wrote this.
I cannot see fairies,
I dream them.
There is no fairy can hide from me;
I keep on dreaming till I find him:
There you are, Primrose! — I see you,
Keep on dreaming, look for silver pennies, spring is surely on its way.