This poem was sent to me by a friend in Virginia from out of a Civil War manuscript. I thought it was very relevant for today’s children, and also that it bears repeating. It was written down by Elizabeth Cary Johnson, who says:

I set down in writing the following nonsense because I have never seen it in print and my Mother used to sing it to me and I, in turn, sang it to my babies-

His Highness, Prince Pauper

His highness, Prince Pauper, In bib and in tucker,
Lay screaming one night for the moon.

I will have it he said, laid right on my bed,
So hurry and bring it down soon.

Tis too far away, said his nurse in dismay,
We never could reach it, my dear.

Take a ladder, he cried, that shall reach to the skies,
And gave her a box on the ear.

The Queen mother heard, and came with the word,
For what is my royal son crying?

I want the moon, she fell down in a swoon,
And they certainly though she was dying.

The King scratched his head, He must have it, he said,
I’ll send up a royal balloon

Every man shall be hung, or his neck shall be wrung,
Unless they bring Pucker the moon.

They failed tho’, it seemed, and the naughty boy screamed,
Til everyone thought him a dunce.

We’ll put him in bed, the royal pair said, and send for a doctor at once.

Doctors came and they went, but none could invent,
A dose that would stop Pucker crying.

Til a nice doctor came, with a very long name,
Who frowned when he heard Pucker crying.

What’s the matter, he said. The child is most dead,
Said the Queen mother, wiping her eyes.

He cries for the moon, mine sent up a balloon,
But it can’t be got down from the skies.

Well mum, if that’s all, just let the kid bawl.
Tho’ I’ll admit it’s hard to endure.

In spite of his rank, I prescribe a sound spank,
And I’m sure it’ll affect a good cure.

So His Highness, Prince Pauper, in his bib and his tucker,
In spite of his rank, received a sound spank.

And was a good boy thereafter.


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