Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

My mother, Frances and my brother, Wesley and me! (Photo Credit Dad)

Yesterday, we celebrated the 91st birthday of my mother, Frances.

It was a wonderful family time of recalling memories of the past and enumerating blessings we have today. My parents had many adventures during the 60 years they shared together. Even though Dad passed over ten years ago, his presence continues to be in our lives.

I have gone back in time to recall the day that the Encyclopedia Britannica arrived at our home. There was actually two encyclopedias – one for adults and the other, which was far more interesting and exciting, for children.

The first volume of the children’s encyclopedia was dedicated to poetry. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field was one of my favourites. Join me in reciting this magical poem.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod


Eugene Field  (1850-1895)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
   The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,"
            Said Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!"
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home:
'Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
   As if it could not be;
And some folk thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea;
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one's trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
            Wynken,
            Blynken,
            And Nod.


This poem is in the public domain.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

62 thoughts on “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

  1. Wishing your mother a happy birthday, Rebecca! Yes,I know the poem well. I gave three sibling cats that name when they were kittens. We lost Blynken on Friday the 25th to left side heart failure. Nod and Wynken are still with us.

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    1. Many thanks for your birthday wishes, Lavinia – I will be sure to pass on your lovely message when I phone Mom this afternoon. What a wonderful trio of sibling cats. I am so very, very, sorry for your loss of Blynken. Our four legged friends are a part of our family. Give hugs to Nod and Wynken for me. I know that they miss their sibling. During our birthday celebrations this past weekend, the names of all of our four-legged friends came up. How precious they still are to us all.

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    1. What better way to send a child to sleep than with Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. I am now reading poetry in the evening and find that poetic words, with its messages, symbolism and imagery, allow me to be present in the moment. When I started to read poetry out loud to an empty room, the words seemed to energize the the space. I continue to learn and learn and learn….

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    1. What better way to send a child into dreamland than to read a poem that stimulates warm and beautiful thoughts? Remember the poem, “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson? Another poem in the first volume of The Child’s Encyclopedia Britannica. I would spend hours following my shadow because of this poem.

      “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
      And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
      He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
      And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.”

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    1. Thank you, Shey!! I loved this poem by Eugene Field, along with Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, The Swing. Eugene Field had a very interesting sense of humour. I found this from Poets.org:

      “According to the Denver Public Library, “Eugene was known throughout Denver for his practical jokes. His office at the Denver Tribune included a chair with a false bottom. An unsuspecting person would attempt to sit in the chair and fall to the floor instead.”

      https://poets.org/poet/eugene-field

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  2. Oh, Rebecca, you filled my heart with sweetness and as you were reciting I felt like a child blissfully enjoying the sound of your voice. Happy Birthday to a wonderful mother and many many hugs to you, my sweet friend.

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    1. Thank you for your birthday wishes, Marina. I will be talking with Frances this afternoon and will relay your lovely message. I am very interested in the connection of poetry to music to reflection to meditation. I am finding that reading poetry in the evening is a way to relax my mind and detach myself from a problem-solving mindset. Sending many hugs to you and Hera.

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    1. I will be talking with mom this afternoon and will be sure to pass on your birthday wishes. I was watching an excellent Victoria & Albert museum video on Kodachrome technology, which was used in slide photography. Oh, Liz – they brought out their archival slides wearing white gloves and carefully opened the container with the Kodachrome slides. I thought about Dad’s slides – YIKES – none of his slides had ever seen a white glove. My project this year is to buy white gloves and digitalize Dad’s slides that date back the the late 1940’s and into 1950’s. The photos of Mom, Wes and me confirm what the V&A said. Kodachrome has great colour that has lasting properties, even if they have never been handled with white gloves. LOL!!!

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      1. Oh you have such marvellous stories! “None of his slides had ever seen a white glove” – magnificent!! What a wonderful project it will be to digitise your father’s archive. I can’t wait to hear more about the treasures you will undoubtedly find.

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this poem, Robbie. Eugene Field had a very interesting life. He was known to enjoy humour and play practical jokes. When he was in college he led raids on the president’s wine cellar and fired the school’s landmark cannons at midnight. He never finished his education, went travelling and became a journalist. He married and had eight children. Regrettable, he died at 45 from a heart attack, but he left a prodigious legacy.

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    1. Thank you Marian – I will be on the phone with Frances this afternoon and I was pass along your birthday wishes. I was reading about Eugene Field’s background and found that he was known as the “poet of childhood.” A lovely thought!!

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    1. Like you, I hadn’t thought of Wynken, Blynken and Nod until I recalled all of the hubbub around the arrival of the Encyclopedia Britannica with it’s own book case. I still maintain my connection to this amazing organization via on-line.

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  3. Rebecca, how lovely a milestone for your mother – 91. And what a delight to hear your recitation of this charming poem. The music you have chosen sets the perfect lullabye mood. In fact I’m feeling sleepy-eyed in a good way right this minute. Thanks for posting this

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    1. Many thanks, Babsje for joining me in reciting Wynken, Blynken and Nod. A few years ago I decided to read poetry in the evening as a way of meditation to wind down from a busy day and to reflect on events and things that give joy. I am delighted that we have connected. I was just over visiting The Center for Arts in Natick.

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  4. I remember the Encyclopedia Britannia representative chatting with my parents all those years back. Soon the books arrived and I, being dyslexic and not able to read very well, longed to understand the treasures within. Unlike your experience, the books sat on a shelf quite forlorn. I believe my father was the only one to really digest the writings; he was a prolific reader!
    However, Rebecca, your reading took me back to a sweet childhood where a wonderful mother sang/read me to sleep. How grand that must have been.
    The image you highlighted of your mother, brother and yourself, taken by your father, is so sweet. What a kind and loving mother holding her little darlings is portrayed.
    Many happy returns to your mother.
    xoxoxo

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    1. When I was researching how poetry influences children, I read that reading poetry to children helps them to understand, voice, pitch, volume and inflection, which is important for learning to read. When poetry is read out loud, children recognize speech patterns and identify sounds and word families. Isn’t it wonderful that we had mothers who enjoyed reading poetry to their children. A gift that keeps on giving throughout our lifetimes. Sending many hugs!!

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      1. So sorry, Rebecca, my comment mislead you. I should have said – Your reading took me back to a sweet childhood I would have enjoyed, just as you did. But, no; my childhood was devoid of those sweet things. How grand that must have been for you. However, I was ‘that’ mother to my daughter; so I didn’t entirely miss out. Because of this sweet connection with Veronica there is an indescribable bond I share with her. I believe it is called love and trust and so many wonderful superlatives. I’m sure you have this bond with your mother!
        That was very interesting research you came across. It certainly makes a lot of sense. We mimic, to a great extent what we hear and see, which is why it is so important to portray the best in us!

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      2. How wonderful for you and Veronica. LOVE those superlatives. A compassionate and understanding bond between mother and child lays the foundation for building courage, enduring hope, and resilience. I can only imagine how difficult it was to be the mother to your mother. I believe that your early lessons have opened up new areas of exploration that continue to influence and illuminate.

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  5. Thank you for including the written words of this lovely poem. I remember it; really a favorite now, as well as some long years ago. I also remember the day the Encyclopedias arrived! The adult ones were in a blue cover and the ones for the younger generation in red. (At least that is the way I remember them) But those books were a huge joy and blessing in our home for many years. This poem, especially, was a favorite and we read it more than once. As I recalled reading it to you, and as you read. I heard you read it just now, I felt tearful! !

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    1. What wonderful memories I have of your reading that first volume of poetry. I remember carrying that set of encyclopedias everywhere we moved, long after many editions had replaced them.

      Encyclopedia Britannica stopped their print editions, the last one being the 2010 edition. This was after 244 (since 1768) years of providing knowledge in print form, Encyclopedia Britannica has gone on-line.

      “We’re digital, we’re mobile, and we’re social,” Cauz (President) said in a statement just put out by Encyclopaedia Britannica. “We’re a very different company from 20 or 30 years ago.”

      https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/03/13/148549194/after-244-years-in-print-encyclopaedia-britannica-goes-all-digital

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      1. 244 years! ! So really different! ! Quite frankly, I really do not know if our present way of communicating is an improvement, so different! A real learning experience for us who are older!

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    1. Many thanks, Sylvia. We owe much gratitude to our mothers who shared stories and poetry to us at an early age. It was the beginning of our life-long reading journey. I will be phoning Mom this afternoon and will be sure to relay your birthday wishes. Sending many hugs your way!!!

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  6. That is such a sweet photo of you with your mother and little brother! Listening to your reading of the poem brought back a memory I had completely forgotten about. When my dad read the poem to my brother and me, he would act as though it was sending us off to sleep; George and I would then quickly disavow him of that idea.

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    1. I laughed out loud when I read “George and I would then quickly disavow him of that idea.” You and George had the most fun times. I still smile when I think of you and George honking the car! I remember when that photo was taken, Liz. And it seems that it was as if were only a few short weeks ago. Zoom zoom – time moves ever on and so much we. But I am taking a camera with me to stop time along the way!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes, Inese. My mother was so pleased to receive them and asked me to relay her thanks along with mine. We live in a complex world where we will face many challenges. Family and friends are invaluable in navigating difficult circumstances as well as celebrating the joy of living. I remember sitting beside my grandfather when we were watching the 1969 moon landing. He said to me – I was born in a sod house, I saw the coming of the car and now I have seen a man walk on the moon. Yes – people who are blessed with long life have so many stories that can add to our understanding. Sending hugs your way.

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  7. What a lovely poem, Rebecca. I’ve heard the title so many times, but never read it beyond the first stanza. I love the idea of your mom singing it to you as you drifted to sleep. A beautiful memory. Thanks so much for sharing. ❤

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    1. Thank you for your visit, Diana, and for your comments. Poetry has a way of entering our hearts and never leaving. That first volume of the Children’s Encyclopedia Britannica was well-worn over time and has been lost in one of our moves. I still have poems that I remember but cannot locate. I’m going back into public domain poetry to find. Remember The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear? This is the first stanza:

      “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
      In a beautiful pea-green boat,
      They took some honey, and plenty of money,
      Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
      The Owl looked up to the stars above,
      And sang to a small guitar,
      “O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
      What a beautiful Pussy you are,
      You are,
      You are!
      What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember that one too, Rebecca. My mom read us lots of nursery rhymes (poems). We had the World Book Encyclopedia and my parents hung onto it for decades… long after the advent of the internet. I remember browsing through there for hours! What fun.

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    1. Someone sent me an e-mail with the words “time is running so fast.” That is what I felt when I was looking back at Dad’s photos. Time slips past, and the future comes to us moving us ever forward. The best way to keep up is to be in the present and take photos to recall wonderful memories. Please give my warmest hellos to your mother in law!!!

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    1. Thank you, Resa! I will be sure to give your birthday wishes to Ms Frances. You will be interested in knowing that the title Ms Frances came from her days of sewing dance costumes for young dancers. She sewed up until her 89th birthday!

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    1. I spoke with Frances (mom) last night via phone and passed along your birthday wishes. She wanted me to say thanks but also to thank you for your latest poem, “Not What.” Sending many hugs back your way with great speed.

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  8. Wishing Francis a very Happy Birthday. What a perfect way to celebrate by reciting this wonderful poem. Great memories for many of us. Sending much love to all.

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    1. Many thanks for the birthday wishes, which I will pass on to Frances who will be very happy to receive. We are now able to meet in person for coffee. What a wonderful feeling. Even the masks are coming off, just in time to enjoy the spring sunshine and air. The earth is waking up! Sending hugs and love back with great speed.

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