Author Spotlight: Eugene Field

Photograph of Eugene Field, 1896

Before discovering Milne's When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six at around age ten, most of the poetry I read was for school assignments, which probably explains my lack of interest in the genre prior to that point. On the whole, I didn't enjoy poetry until I was a middle grader, but there were a few exceptions. As a young child, I did in fact have one or two individual poems that I liked--and the one that stands out clearest in my memory is Eugene Field's "Wyken, Blynken, and Nod."

I'm not exactly sure how I first heard or read "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." I know that my mother had a copy of Eugene Field's poems from her own childhood, bound in a small, red, hardcover volume that we still own today. Most likely she read the poem aloud to me, before I was old enough to read it for myself. At any rate, I remember hearing and reciting the poem many times when I was growing up, and while I didn't fully grasp Field's metaphor I found the poem's gentle rhythm soothing and his imagery wonderfully dreamlike.

As a teenager, when I began Sparrow Tree Square as a magazine of public domain children's literature, I rediscovered Field's poems and found myself using them in the magazine again and again. Field's poems "Fairy and Child," "The Night Wind," "The Sugar Plum Tree," "Seein' Things," "Jest 'Fore Christmas," "Hi-Spy," "The Hawthorne Children," and "Wyken, Blyken, and Nod," have all appeared in the pages of Sparrow Tree Square at some point. In fact, I think that the only poet I've featured more frequently is Walter de la Mare, who appears a total of ten times across the Sparrow Tree Square archive to Field's seven!

While I do strive for variety when choosing selections for Sparrow Tree Square, I'm glad that Field's work has appeared so frequently. After all, Eugene Field was one of the best writers of poetry for young people, and I am so glad that his works are in the public domain for anyone to enjoy.