Sleep, little child, and dream for me
Dream me a white-plumed apple tree
All a-bloom in the early spring
Dream me a song to sing
-“Apple Tree,” Songs from Dreamland
From lullabies to We-Sing videos, I spent hours and hours of my childhood singing. I never forgot what I sang. There was collection of lullabies called Songs from Dreamland that my parents played on a cassette tape for bedtime. I envisioned magical creatures stirring in the boughs of a massive tree as I drifted off to sleep as I listened to the song above.
These lyrics come from “Rain Lady” in the same album:
Soft in the darkness the Rain Lady comes
Twirling her with the tips of her thumbs
They were probably my first introduction to the power of comparing nature to human characteristics (I wouldn’t know till much later that it was called ‘anthropomorphism’).
When I was older, I glued my eyes to the colorful computer screen of the CD-ROM game “Mixed-Up Mother Goose.” The land of nursery rhymes was awash with confusion—Mary had lost her little lamb, Little Boy Blue couldn’t find his horn, and Jack Sprat and his wife desperately needed their ham for supper. When I returned the lost object to its owner, the characters would perform their nursery rhyme to thank me.
I remember asking myself, “Why did Humpty Dumpty sit on a wall and then fall and die?” (morbid for a six-year-old, but I was quite serious and sober). Why did Little Tommy Tucker sing for his supper, get bread and butter, than worry about finding a wife? (I could relate a little bit. I was two years old when I told my pediatrician that I was worried about finding myself a good husband).
With this baby on the way, I’m realizing that whatever songs I choose to play for my little one will burrow deep into his or her heart. Will I find songs that speak of beauty? Songs that have profound meaning? Songs that rhyme but make absolutely no sense? Will these songs form some of my child’s first memories?
To this day, I listen closely to song lyrics. I can’t help but hear them, trying to piece the meaning out of them.
Hush , little baby
Curl up in the moonbeam
Let all the stars kiss you
With silver wind songs.
From sparkling white snow lands
Come twinkling bright crystals
That cling to the branches
Of tall pretty blue spruce.
They drink from the river
That flows from my heart.
-Winter Lullaby, Elise Stephens
Do you remember song and rhymes from your childhood? Any clues about how they’ve impacted you?