Chapter and Verse: The world of nineteenth-century American children’s poetry

Chapter and Verse is a series that features JHU Press authors and editors discussing the literary landscape of poetry and prose, whether their own creative work or the literature of others.

It isn’t often that three poets laureate (among others)  praise a book prior to its publication.  That was the case with Over the River and Through the Wood: An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Anthology of American Children’s Poetry, edited by Karen Kilcup and Angela Sorby.  Kenn Nesbitt, Children’s Poet Laureate  declared, “I have been wanting a book like this for as long as I can remember. It is a tremendous accomplishment; one of those rare books that is an absolute ‘must own’ for anyone with an interest in children’s poetry, and even poetry in general.”  Nesbitt was so impressed he published Kilcup and Sorby’s blog post here on  One poem from this anthology follows.

“I’d Rather Have—” by Stephen Crane (about age 9)

Last Christmas they gave me a sweater,

And a nice warm suit of wool,

But I’d rather be cold and have a dog,

To watch when I come home from school.

Father gave me a bicycle,

But that isn’t much of a treat,

Unless you have a dog at your heels

Racing away down the street.

They bought me a camping outfit,

But a bonfire by a log

Is all the outfit I would ask,

If I only had a dog.

They seem to think a little dog

Is a killer of all earth’s joys;

But oh, that “pesky little dog”

Means hours of joy to the boys.

Karen L. Kilcup is a professor of American literature at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her books include Teaching Nineteenth-Century American Poetry and Fallen Forests: Emotion, Embodiment, and Ethics in American Women’s Environmental Writing, 1781–1924. Angela Sorby is an associate professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Her books include Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865–1917, and three poetry collections, most recently The Sleeve Waves.

Interested in getting a copy of Over the River and Through the Wood for a 30% off the list price? Use code HDPD at Hopkins checkout or call 1-800-537-5487 and mention the code.