Blue sea ahead of the steamer,
blue sea behind.
Cheerful are the sailors
when they look up to the sky,
they watch the blue of a second sea
where clouds not ships sail by.
Mournful is Grandma
for three knees has Grandpa,
he’s got a right one,
he’s got a left one.
And where is the third? Where, where, where?
On his bald head right up there
Round as a knee with not a single hair.
The crayons were fighting head to head
They started to throw each other
From their four pastel poster bed.
It was such a battle, so many dead
And every single crayon had a broken lead.
When sunrise chases off the dark
The blind soars up first like a meadow lark.
When the night smears all with its thick black pitch
The blind rolls down first without a hitch.
It plays its part well without a frown,
Once it goes up and once comes down.
It’s good to be a gamekeeper –
to him the birds sing sweetly.
I work as a bricklayer –
wheelbarrows sing to me.
Which is why I don’t grease them
for all summer long
they, too, sing to me
a cheerful, squeaky song.
HOW DANDELIONS CHANGE
At first their hair is golden
and they smile like the sun.
Then among the spring flowers’ coloured patterns
they shine like round white lanterns
until a wicked little wind all of a sudden
blows, changing each to a tiny button.
WHAT THE SKY DOES WITHOUT THE MOON
Said the night, “Oh, cloud my dear,
Don’t touch my darling moon,
Leave him be, let him float up here,
for without him I’m deep in gloom.”
But a monster was this cloud
and wrapped the moon in a shroud.
At first the night was frightened
but then she calmed down and thought.
There were still the flock of stars she’d brought
and with them the darkness lightened.
THE WHISKERY DANCER
A mouse gnawed out a chamber
within an Emental cheese.
She said within that chamber
she’d dance just how she pleased.
But alas that dancing chamber with walls of Emental
was even for a mouse a little bit too small
From one hole poked a whisker, from a second hole a whisker, too
from a third hole a long, long, long, long, long, long mouse’s tail.
Miss Mouse got in a huff
“Chamber, I’ve had enough!”
And ate till her ballroom was no more.
Then she danced beside the crumbs upon the floor.
Eyes, if you’ve really got to have them shut,
are like buttonholes in an overcoat.
What will happen in the morning, I hear you beseech,
When big black buttons are fastened in each?
THE GOLDEN FLY
A golden fly’s tooth gave her pain.
What did she need? The strength of a man.
Doctor Spider came with a pounce
And pulled out the sore tooth at once.
Before the fly buzzed off on her way
this is what he had to say
“The tooth I’ve extracted you must carefully hold.
It may be bad, but it still is gold!”
SPRING, SUMMER AUTUMN
When will beautiful springtime
When spring shows white candles in the chestnut tree’s
When will summer with its long ladle
When these candles change into hedgehog
When does Autumn knock on the walls made by
When chestnuts cast hedgehogs away like lost
Translated by Viera and James Sutherland-Smith