My aunt passed away ten years ago at age 95. She used to recite a poem about "milkweed babies" which she learned in grade school. I have searched the web but can't seem to find it. I can't remember any of the lines except perhaps the first one which may have been, "The milkweed babies raise their heads". This may not even be correct. Is anyone familiar with a child's poem about milkweeds which might fit the bill?
Thank you for your help. I have been busting my brain to remember it to no avail.
There is a song called Dainty Milkweed babies in a book called JSTOR Third Grade - according to this:
First Book (Modern Music Series); The Oriole's Nest Song, First Book (Modern Music Series); Dainty Milkweed Babies, Eleanor Smith's Songs, Part II. ...
links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1545-5890(190010)1%3A2%3C160%3ATG%3E2.0.CO%3B2-2 - Similar pages
That may be what you are looking for - the words of songs are often used as poems at school - and vice versa. Unfortunately, I can't find the words of the song anywhere.
I found the words to Dainty Milkweed Babies in: STANDARD CATHOLIC READERS BY GRADES SECOND YEAR by Mary E Doyle. (page 28) [books.google.com]
Here are the words:
Dainty Milkweed Babies
Dainty milkweed babies,
Wrapped in cradles green,
Rocked by Mother Nature,
Fed by hands unseen.
Brown coats have the darlings,
Slips of milky white;
And wings - but that's a secret,
They're folded out of sight.
Unfortunately this book did not have the sheet music.
I also found THE ELEANOR SMITH MUSIC COURSE BOOK ONE.
The song you are looking for is not in this book, but it contains on-line sheet music and words for all the children's songs within.
In addition I found THE ELEANOR SMITH MUSIC COURSE BOOK TWO, but not your song/poem.
The words and music must be in book three or four, which I did not find.
Smith Music Course, edited by Miss Smith and consisting of four books and a teacher's manual.
Hi Marian and Terry,
When I saw the name "Dainty Milkweed Babies", I immediately thought it must be the poem I am looking for. However,it is not. I have never heard this one before. The poem my aunt recited mentioned "Milkweed Babies" and how they drifted off into the wind. I was reminded of it the other day while sitting in my back yard watching the milkweed taking flight into the breeze.
It must be an obscure poem and wonder if I will ever find anyone familiar with it.
I appreciate your help. I will keep looking.
An after thought. I wonder if "Dainty Milkweed Babies" may be the same poem afterall. Perhaps there were additional verses, which my aunt did not remember or know. The poem she used to recite was very short and could have been just a part, or one verse of a longer one.
Hmmm - well, saw your second post and took another look.
I ran into this post: "I learned this song (Come Little Leaves) from my mother, 92, who learned it from her mother (born in 1893). All of us - three generations at least-have sung it as lullabies to our children along with “Dainty milkweed babies, floating through the air” which I am going to look up next!"
Evidently there is another song/poem out there with "dainty milkweed babies" in it - or you are correct in thinking there are more verses than those published in the song book. The poem seems to have been popular and I found it published in numerous grade school readers without music, but I did not run into (cursory search) any with more than these two verses.
You may be interested to know that my aunt also knew and recited "Come Little Leaves Said the Wind One Day". I never knew it was also a song. She could recite The Villlage Blacksmith in its entirety well into her 90's, as well. How I wish now that I had listened more intently as she would go from one to the other once she got started. When looking for the milkweed poem, I came across "Come Little Leaves" and that also brought back memories of her and her love of poetry.
There may be two separate poems with "milkweed babies" mentioned in the versus. I thought perhaps there was just one but with several versus. If you didn't come across more versus in your search of Dainty Milkweed Babies, there just may not be any. Perhaps we'll never know.
I think this may have American rather than English origins as I can't find milkweed as a contemporary name for anything we grow here. It's either that or it's an old name (and my book usually lists old names). We have milkworts - Polygala vulgaris and others. I tried to find out about it online but got very confused because it seemed to be such a well-known plant no one felt the need to describe it.
According to my wildflower book, Milk-weed (Asclepias syriaca) and milkwort are two entirely different species of plants. Milk-weed is a very common plant here in New England and grows along highways and in fields. It is the only plant Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on. When the caterpillars hatch,they survive and grow by eating the Milk-weed leaves until they are large enough to enter the chrysalis stage. They can be found hanging from Milk-weed plants until they emerge as beautiful butterflies in early fall. I maintain a patch of Milk-weed to attract them and also have wild Asters growing along the edge of my property near a brook. The Asters are often laden with Monarchs when they bloom in autumn.
It appears there may be two different poems about "Milkweed Babies". Perhaps I will come across someone who remembers the one my aunt knew some day.
Found another verse in one of the grade school readers:
Dainty milkweed babies, wrapped in cradles green,
Rocked by Mother Nature, fed by hands unseen.
Brown coats have the darlings, slips of milky white,
And wings - but that’s a secret, - they’re folded out of sight.
The cradles grow so narrow, what will the babies do?
They’ll only grow the faster, and look up toward the blue.
And now they’ve found the secret, they’re flying through the air,
They’ve left the cradles empty, - do milkweed babies care?
I saw a Monarch butterfly the other day and thought this was the wrong time of year for them. Interesting.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/28/2007 09:13AM by TerryAllen.
Since we also spoke of 'Come Little Leaves' I thought I would post one version of it also:
“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day,
“Come o’er the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold.”
Soon as the leaves heard the wind’s loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the glad little songs they knew.
“Cricket, good-by, we’ve been friends so long,
Little brook, sing us your farewell song;
Say you are sorry to see us go;
Ah, you will miss us, right well we know.
“Dear little lambs in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we watched you in vale and glade,
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?”
Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went,
Winter had called them, and they were content;
Soon, fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a coverlet over their heads.
by George Cooper
Frankly I had never heard of this poem, but was surprised how many people posted that their father, mother, or grandparents had recited it to them.
Wow Terry! More verses discovered! Still not the ones my aunt recited, but we know now there were others. The gist of the poem you found is so much in the same vein as the one I remember, that it has to be the same poem - or at least an off-shoot of it. My aunt definitely did not recite all the verses you found for the “Come Little Leaves” poem. I remember nothing about crickets or lambs in her version. The verses I remember are one, two and the last one.
As a child during WWII, our school sent us out on a mission to help the war effort. I remember gathering milkweed pods in the fall and believe they were used in parachutes.
I just did a Google search and found a site about Monarch butterflies. It says the leaves are poisonous and when eaten by the Monarch caterpillars, they become poisonous, as well. It is a survival tactic and says predators learn to leave them alone after experiencing the effects they cause – not deadly, however. It was a surprise for me to read that, as many people used to gather the leaves to eat. They were steamed or boiled in a little water and taste a bit like peas. Out of curiosity we sampled them one time as kids and we never experienced any adverse reaction to them. It was common knowledge that some people ate and enjoyed milkweed leaves. Times were pretty rough during the depression and people ate just about anything they could get their hands on.
Thanks again for your time and effort in helping me in my quest for that elusive poem.
Thanks for the information on Milkweeds and butterflies. I've seen Monarchs in butterfly houses, but it's too cold here for them to breed - I can't find Asclepias in my flower books, so it looks as though it's too cold for them, too.
Re Come Little Leaves - your aunt probably only learned the 3 verses first cited - the poem must have been abridged quite often, as I first saw it printed as those 3 verses and came across the other 2 later.
Milkweeds can be very messy when the pods open in the fall and the silky seeds begin floating about, but if I can play a small part in the survival of the Monarchs,it is well worth it. They are certainly very interesting and complex little creatures. There are many good sites about them on the web and I seem to be learning something new all the time.
Another lovely poem I really enjoy is "September" by Helen Hunt Jackson. I think most people are familiar with that one and it is easy to find on the web. My mother learned it in elementary school,circa 1912 -15. By the time I started school in the 1940's, it had been set to music so I remember it as a song. I am reminded of it each year when summer begins to wind down and the first signs of autumn are visible.
A posting in another forum, yielded a response and another milkweed poem. Still not the one I am looking for, however.
In a milkweed cradle, snug and warm,
Baby seeds are hiding, safe from harm
Open wide the cradle, hold it high,
Come Mr. Wind, help them fly
No author given.
I've found another milkweed poem - not the one you are looking for, Phyl, but you might like it. I'ts called Two Voices in a Meadow by Richard Wilbur:
Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yeild?
As casual as cow-dung
Under the crib of God,
I lie where chance would have me,
Up to the ears in sod.
Why should I move? To move
Befits a light desire.
The sill of heaven would founder,
Did such as I aspire.
(I must admit - I feel more like the stone this morning)
Thanks for finding another poem about milkweeds. I still have not found the one I was looking for and probably never will. I wonder if it may have been written by a creative teacher my aunt had in primary school and not by a known author. I doubt I will ever know.