Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fairy Tale Poetry Week: Questions of the Hour by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

Today's offering for Fairy Tale Poetry Week in honor of National Poetry Month is below. Do read all the way to the end and consider the date this was written, 1878. That makes it all the more interesting to me on several levels.

Questions of the Hour
by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836–1919)

“Do angels wear white dresses, say?
Always, or only in the summer? Do
Their birthdays have to come like mine, in May?
Do they have scarlet sashes then, or blue?

“When little Jessie died last night,
How could she walk to Heaven——it is so far?
How did she find the way without a light?
There wasn’t even any moon or star.

“Will she have red or golden wings?
Then will she have to be a bird, and fly?
Do they take men like presidents and kings
In hearses with black plumes clear to the sky?

“How old is God? Has he gray hair?
Can He see yet? Where did He have to stay
Before——you know——he had made——Anywhere?
Who does He pray to——when He has to pray?

“How many drops are in the sea?
How many stars?——well, then, you ought to know
How many flowers are on an apple-tree?
How does the wind look when it does n’t blow?

“Where does the rainbow end? And why
Did——Captain Kidd——bury the gold there? When
Will this world burn? And will the firemen try
To put the fire out with the engines then?

“If you should ever die, may we
Have pumpkins growing in the garden, so
My fairy godmother can come for me,
When there’s a prince’s ball, and let me go?

“Read Cinderella just once more——
What makes——men’s other wives——so mean?” I know
That I was tired, it may be cross, before
I shut the painted book for her to go.

Hours later, from a child’s white bed
I heard the timid, last queer question start:
“Mamma, are you—my stepmother?” it said.
The innocent reproof crept to my heart.

from A Woman's Poems (1878)


See a list of more Cinderella poems at Modern Interpretations of Cinderella. See the left hand column for links to full text poems.

For a list of fairy tale themed poetry collections, I have a Fairy Tale Poetry list on Amazon. There are also many poems scattered throughout the SurLaLune website...

The illustration is by Herbert Cole.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this, Heidi! It seems twee at first, but is also gently captivating--then the penultimate line twists it delightfully.