Poetry Tuesday: Roald Dahl


The kids and I visited the library yesterday. As I went in search of Ancient Mesopotamia, I noticed the shelf of children’s poetry right behind me. I picked up a volume of Roald Dahl‘s verses. I am enjoying his dark, strange poems.

Some of my favorite childhood memories include weekends spent at my grandmother’s house. It was our custom that she would tell me stories and snuggle me until I fell asleep. All was quiet and dark, except for the sliver of light shining through the crack in the door. I can still remember the smell of her favorite evening moisturizer on her cheeks and the soft sound of her voice as she recited old tales in my ear. One of my favorites was was “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” As an owner of a little wooden chair, the story never satisfied my sense of justice, but Nanny said, “The fright she got from the bears was punishment enough.”

I enjoyed Dahl’s version. 😉

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
from Revolting Rhymes

This famous wicked little tale
Should never have been put on sale.
It is a mystery to me
Why loving parents cannot see
That this is actually a book
About a brazen little crook.
Had I the change I wouldn’t fail
To clap young Goldilocks in jail.

Now just imagine how you’d feel
If you had cooked a lovely meal,
Delicious porridge, steaming hot,
Fresh coffee in the the coffee-pot,
With maybe toast and marmalade,
The table beautifully laid,
One place for you and one for dad,
Another for your little lad.
Then dad cries, “Golly-gosh! Gee-whizz!
Oh cripes! How hot this porridge is!
Let’s take a walk along the street
Until it’s cool enough to eat.”
He adds, “An early morning stroll
Is good for people on the whole.
It makes your appetite improve
It also helps your bowels move.”
No proper wife would dare to question
Such a sensible suggestion.
Above all not at breakfast time
When men are seldom at their prime.

No sooner are you down the road
Than Goldilocks, that little toad
That nosy thieving little louse
Comes sneaking in your empty house.
She looks around. She quickly notes
Three bowls brimful of porridge-oats.
And while still standing on her feet,
She grabs a spoon and starts to eat.
I say again, how would you feel
If you had made this lovely meal
And some delinquent little tot
Broke in and gobbled up the lot?

But wait! That’s not the worst of it!
Now comes the most distressing bit.
You are of course a houseproud wife,
And all your happy married life
You have collected lovely things
Like gilded cherubs wearing wings,
And furniture by Chippendale
Bought at some famous auction sale.
But your most special valued pleasure,
Is one small children’s dining-chair,
Elizabethan, very rare.
It is in fact your joy and pride,
Passed down to you on grandma’s side.
But Goldilocks, like many freaks,
Does not appreciate antiques.
She doesn’t care, she doesn’t mind,
And now she plonks her fat behind
Upon this dainty precious chair,
And crunch! It busts beyond repair.
A nice girl would at once exclaim,
“Oh dear! Oh heavens! What a shame!”
Not Goldy. She begins to swear.
She bellows, “What a lousy chair!”
And uses one disgusting word
That luckily you’ve never heard.
(I dare not write it, even hint it.
Nobody would ever print it.)

You’d think by now this little skunk
Would have the sense to do a bunk.
But no. I very much regret
She hasn’t nearly finished yet.
Deciding she would like a rest,
She says, “Let’s see which bed is best.”
Upstairs she goes and tries all three.
(Here comes the next catastrophe.)
Most educated people choose
To rid themselves of socks and shoes
Before they clamber into bed.
But Goldie didn’t give a shred.
Her filthy shoes were thick with grime,
And mud and mush and slush and slime.
Worse still, upon the heel of one
Was something that a dog had done.
I say once more, what would you think
If all this horrid dirt and stink
Was smeared upon your eiderdown
By this revolting little clown?
(The famous story has no clues
To show the girl removed her shoes.)
Oh, what a tale of crime on crime!
Let’s check it for a second time.

CRIME ONE:
The prosecution’s case:
She breaks and enters someone’s place.

CRIME TWO:
The prosecutor notes:
She steals a bowl of porridge oats.

CRIME THREE:
She breaks a precious chair
Belonging to the Baby Bear.

CRIME FOUR:
She smears each spotless sheet
With filthy messes from her feet.

A judge would say without a blink,
“Ten years’ hard labour in the clink!”
But in the book, as you will see,
The little beast gets off scot-free,
While tiny children near and far
Shout, “Goody-good! Hooray! Hurrah!
Poor darling Goldilocks!” they say.
“Thank goodness that she got away!”
Myself, I think I’d rather send
Young Goldie to a sticky end.
“Oh daddy!” cried the Baby Bear,
“My porridge gone! It isn’t fair!”
“Then go upstairs,” the Big Bear said,
“Your porridge is upon the bed.
But as it’s inside mademoiselle,
You’ll have to eat her up as well.”

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