November 4, 2012

Death of Field: Sailed off in a wooden shoe

Eugene Field had planned to leave on a trip to Kansas City when he died unexpectedly at 5 o'clock in the morning on November 4, 1895. His body was discovered by his son at their home in Chicago. His death was quite sudden and, though he had been sick, none thought his heart disease was so poor. His obituary called him "a remarkable character" whose "verses endeared him to the multitude." The St. Louis born Field was a humorist and poet, particularly popular among children. He had written the 19th section of what became his final work, The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac, only two days before his death (his brother, Roswell Martin Field, Jr., wrote the introduction for the book's posthumous publication). For a man who died in his sleep, perhaps it is appropriate that his most work famous remains "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod":

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe—
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
   Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
   The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we!"
            Said Wynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
   That lived in that beautiful sea—
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish—
   Never afeard are we";
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
            And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home;
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
   As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they 'd dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea—
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
            And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea,
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
            And Nod.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Wee Willie Winkie, from another nursery rhyme, was related to Wynken. My niece, as a toddler, was really creeped out by Wee Willie Winkie when it was time for bed.


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