811 nonfiction

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze...


... and feed the soul.

"If of all things thou becomes't bereft,

And naught but two loaves thou hast left;

Sell one; and with the dole,

Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul."

— Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam


A limerick is a 5 line poem where the 1st 2nd and 5th lines and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme. It gets it's name from Limerick, Ireland where this type of poetry was popular in the pubs and taverns. It dates back to the 14th century.

There once was a lass from Leeds,
Rashly swallowed six packets of seeds.
In a month, silly lass,
She was covered in grass,
And couldn't sit down for the weeds.


There was a young man from Wheeling,
Indowed with a delicate feeling,
When he read on the door,
Don't spit on the floor,
He jumped up and spat on the ceiling.


There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, 'It is just as I feared! -
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!'


A flea and a fly in a flue,
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, "Let us flee."
"Let us fly", said the flea,
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

I Don't Want to Live on the Moon
by Jeff Moss

Man in the Moon by Scott Gustafson

Well, I'd like to visit the moon
On a rocket ship high in the air
Yes, I'd like to visit the moon
But I don't think I'd like to live there.

Though I'd like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love
So although I might like it for one afternoon
I don't want to live on the moon

I'd like to travel under the sea
I could meet all the fish everywhere
Yes, I'd travel under the sea
But I don't think I'd like to live there
I might stay for a day there if I had my wish
But there's not much to do when your friends are all fish
And an oyster and clam aren't real family
So I don't want to live in the sea

I'd like to visit the jungle, hear the lions roar
Go back in time and meet a dinosaur
There's so many strange places I'd like to be
But none of them permanently

So if I should visit the moon
Well, I'll dance on a moonbeam and then
I will make a wish on a star
And I'll wish I was home once again
Though I'd like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love
So although I may go I'll be coming home soon
'Cause I don't want to live on the moon
No, I don't want to live on the moon


By C.E. Pike

Look out! Look out!
Jack Frost is about!
He’s after our fingers and toes;
And all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.

He’ll climb up each tree,
So nimble is he,
His silvery powder he’ll shake.
To windows he’ll creep
And while we’re asleep
Such wonderful pictures he’ll make.

Across now, the grass
He’ll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white.
Then home he will go
And laugh ho, ho ho!
What fun I have had in the night.

by Christina Rosetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Sacagawea's Song
by Martha Hart Johns

I am Sacagawea
I am Shoshone
Sure of foot like the goat
Stout of heart like the bear
Taken from my tribe as a child
I have no parents
The earth is my mother
for she nourishes me and gives me food
The golden sun is my father
Now he rises at my back, oh morning star
and sets across tomorrow's path, oh evening star
as I seek the Great Water in the West with these strange men of pale skin

The animals are my bothers
They teach me to be one with the land
as that is the way of the Shoshone
We share this land with buffalo and elk, with otter and beaver
and now with men of pale faces who talk of
others who "own" our land
They need a guide
The rocks and the trees are my map
So I lead them

They sketch and record
for the Great White Father
while I listen to the music of the wind and the water
I am proud Sacagawea
I am proud Shoshone
My baby son, I call him Pomp
He travels on my back

On my journey I came upon my people
People of the plains, Shoshone
I spoke to them with my fingers to my lip
to say "I am one of you!" "I am one of you!"
And they cried out to see me
and gave us horses
Wild horses to ride with out saddles over the mountains

My son will be a great man
He will see the Great Water and be wise
My hear pounds with excitement
For my children's children will say
Sacagawea lead them across the land
She was sure of foot like the goat
She was stout of heart like the bear
I will not be afraid
Follow me

Follow this link to read about Sacagawea's life and the invaluable contribution she made to our country.


The Owl

There was an owl
who lived in an oak.
The more he heard,
the less he spoke;
the less he spoke,
the more he heard-
Why can't we be
like that wise old bird?


by Ennette Aitkin

The rest had left 
the tree was bare
but, there he was
just sitting there
holding on
with all his might
clinging to
the tree of life

The sun came out
tried it's best
to curl his edges
make him sweat
still the leaf
would not flow
onto the ground
where others go

The wind came out
to try his way
to blow
the little leaf away
he hung on tight
with all his might
this little leaf
would stand and fight

A storm came knocking
on his door
it howled, it glowed
it even roared
the little leaf
just hung on tight
no storm will get me tonight

He woke next morning
to birds of song
he yawned he stretched
he sung away
wondering what would
happen today

This last leaf standing
dared to fight
clinging to the tree of life


O Henry was the pen name for William Sydney Porter (1862 – 1910) Read about his life...

He is most famous for his short stories that end with a twist.  Follow the link to read his story...

"The Last Leaf"   

Over the River and Through the Wood
by Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and thru the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Thru the white and drifted snow, oh!

Over the river and thru the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and thru the wood,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bell ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!

Over the river and thru the wood,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.


Lydia Maria Child (Maria) was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1802, and was the youngest of six children. She was one of the first women in America to support herself as a novelist and is best remembered for her poem, "A Boy's Thanksgiving" published in 1844.  Based on her own experiences visiting her Grandfather's house  near the Mystic River in Mass, this popular poem was later set to music and is commonly referred to as "Over the River and Through the Woods"  

This is Lydia grandfather's house (114 South Street in Medford Mass)  It was built in the early 1800s as a small farmhouse and was enlarged in 1839 to include the two stories shown here. In 1976, Tufts University, also located in Medford, bought and restored this historic house. It is a classic example of Greek Revival architecture, common in that era. In 1975 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Paul Curtis was Lydia's grandfather. He was a well known and highly respected ship builder. To illustrate the quality of his work a lady related this experience: She was returning from Europe with husband and family on the ship John Elliot Thayer. They encountered an unusually severe gale lasting three days, with constantly increasing violence. The passengers became so alarmed that the captain was appealed to for assurances of safety. While he admitted the storm to be the worst he had ever known, he called the ladies to the cabin and asked them to notice the builder's name in golden letters on the white enamelled panel. They read this: ‘Paul Curtis, builder.’ He assured them that no ship of Paul’s had ever foundered,—no ships had so high a record for low insurance rates,—no timber or bolt was introduced unless free from all defect. ‘I assure you, ladies,’ he said, ‘I think she will ride this terrible storm safely.’ The ship came safely through the storm.


by Adam Rex

When Frankenstein prepared to dine
On ham and cheese on wheat,
He found, instead, he had no bread,
or mustard, cheese, or meat.

What could he do?
He thought it through
Until his brain was sore,

And thought he ought
to see what he could
borrow from nest door.

His neighbors gawked
as Frankie walked
The paths up to their porches.

Each time he tried, the folks inside
would chase him off with torches.

"A monster! eek!"
the people shrieked
"Oh, make him go away.!"

The angry hordes
unsheathed their swords,
pulled pitchforks out of hay.

They threw tomatoes
pigs, potatoes, loaves of moldy bread.

And then a thought
struck Frankenstein
as pickles struck his head.

It's true, at first
he thought the worst
His neighbors were so rude.

but then he found
that on the ground
they'd made a mound of food

He piled it high
and waved good-bye
and shouted, "THANKS A BUNCH"

Then stacked it on a plate and ate a big
disgusting lunch!


by Susan Pearson


Two witches who live past the gates
Have scooters and bikes and some skates
But one broom between them.
Perhaps you have seen them
In flight, they are perfect broom-mates


Five Little Pumpkin Sitting On A Gate

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said,
"Oh my, it's getting late."
The second one said,
"But we don't care."
The third one said,
"I see witches in the air."
The fourth one said,
"Let's run, and run, and run."
The fifth one said,
"Get ready for some fun."
Then whoosh went the wind,
and out went the lights...

And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!


by Jack Prelutsky


There's a house upon the hilltop
We will not go inside
For that is where the witches live,
Where ghosts and goblins hide.
Tonight they have their party,
All the lights are burning bright,
But oh we will not go inside
The haunted house tonight.

The demons there are whirling
And the spirits swirl about.
They sing their songs to Halloween.
"Come join the fun," they shout.
But we do not want to go there
So we run with all our might
And oh we will not go inside
The haunted house tonight.



His  boyhood experience as an itinerant sign painter, entertainer, and assistant to patent-medicine vendor gave him the opportunity to come into intimate touch with the rural populace of Indiana and became known as the "Poet of the common people."   He wrote voluminously and  idolized Charles Dickens,Poets Robert Burns, for dialect verse, and Henry Longfellow, for moral precepts. 

His poem "Little Orphant Annie" was written in 1885 and was the inspiration for the 1924 comic strip "Little Orphan Annie"  The storyline in that comic, written by Harold Grey, was set to music in the Broadway play ANNIE. 

Mary Alice "Allie" Smith, an orphan living in the Riley home during his childhood was the inspiration for this work.  The poem contains four stanzas; the first introduces Annie and the following three are stories she is telling to young children. The stories each tell of a bad child who is snatched away by goblins as a result of their misbehavior. The underlying moral and warning is announced in the final stanza. A fun poem for Halloween.

by James Whitcomb Riley

To all the little children: -- The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones -- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.

Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an'
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun,
A-listenin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers, -
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an'
An seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout: -
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

Life isn't given to us all of a piece,
It's more like a patchwork quilt -
Each hour and minute a patch to fit in
To the pattern that's being built.

With some patches light - and some patches dark,
And some that seem ever so dull -
But if we were given to set some apart,
We'd hardly know which to cull.

For it takes the dark patches to set off the light,
And the dull to show up the gay -
And, somehow, the pattern just wouldn't be right
If we took any part away.

No, life isn't given us all of a piece,
But in patches of hours to use,
That each can work out his pattern of life
To whatever design he might choose.

~ Helen Lowrie Marshall ~