Winnie the Pooh
The Tao of Pooh: the Characters of Winnie the Pooh and Taoism
Taoism was founded in Shundi around 126-144 AD. Before the Communist Revolution, Taoism was one of the strongest religions in China. Aristotle once said, “Happiness is the chief good and that is the end towards which all other things aim”. In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff utilizes the characters from “Winnie the Pooh” to teach the basics of Taoism and to demonstrate how things can be ruined and furthermore work out.
Hoff reveals Rabbit as to how believes he is happy in his cleverness. His knowledge could be described as to someone who learned from reading books and never went outside. However, his wisdom is not the same as his cleverness. “But isn’t the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn’t? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around – walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing” (Hoff Ch. 1). This can be seen when people are tested and show good results meaning that they can apply the concept after studying from experience. He utilizes Owl to demonstrate that when someone is trying too hard to find something or get away with themselves, it gets confusing. “The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much” (Hoff Ch. 1). In life, many times it is about managing your time wisely and taking risks because you will miss 100% the shots you don’t take. Hoff utilizes Piglet as in Piglet is always thinking about it too much. “The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly” (Hoff Ch. 3). The importance here is that when you overthink somethings, you could end up failing because you did not hop on the train.
Lastly, there is Pooh. Hoff demonstrates how Pooh does not contemplate things; he simply does them. Things dependably work out for Pooh along these lines because there is no imitation or going around the straight line. “We don’t need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that’s within us and use it. When we do that, and stop imitating others and competing against them, things begin to work for us” (Hoff Ch. 8). Pooh works alongside nature and he doesn’t attempt to meddle. Pooh has a straightforward existence. Those who fail to rely on intuition often find themselves discontent in their careers and unhappy in their relationships.
Pooh gets into a great deal of scratches and troublesome circumstances yet they generally work out well for him. This is on the grounds that he accepts that his is what will occur. “The masters of life know the way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond cleverness and knows beyond knowledge” (Hoff Ch. 6). The author ends up leaving Pooh as the one that has it all, but it is not quite like that because he does not have the best qualities, yet he finds happiness. Taoism instructs that an individual makes their own existence as Pooh’s frame of mind of continually accepting the best.
Taoism can teach you discipline as well as the right choices when it comes to those tough moments in life. Many people are materialistic and want to be successful because of the money. In many cases, money does not mean anything. We tend to want things that we don’t have because we get influenced my friends or by people who may have those things and can afford them. Each lifestyle is different, but it is up to us if we want to find happiness because money does not bring happiness.
The Influence of Winnie the Pooh on Me
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” — Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
As a small child, I adored Winnie the Pooh, a plump yellow bear with a fondness for red crop tops. Pooh’s attempts to get his paws on delicious honey often end in disaster. (In one such scenario, he pretends to be a raincloud and floats by way of balloon to a beehive up in a tree. Go figure.) Though he is a self-professed “bear with little brain,” Pooh stands out from other anthropomorphic cartoon characters for being constantly happy. Even in sticky situations — some involving honey, and some without — whether he’s escaping angry bees or trapped between Rabbit’s front door, Pooh’s modus operandi is to stay positive and “think, think, think” his way out.
This worldview resonated with me in high school. If I could only have one trait, I would choose continuous optimism, because I share Pooh’s unfailing tendency to constantly make mistakes. For instance: in my kitchen, baking endeavors are baking blunders. While lime juice, egg whites, and condensed milk thicken into the perfect creamy filling, substituting whipped cream for the milk makes a key lime puddle, not pie. I mistake salt for sugar, vinegar for soy sauce, flour for baking powder. Sunken sponge cakes and burnt bundts are common goods; I won’t even mention the terrible tear-stained tortes. Still, if I hadn’t confused Nutella for fudge sauce, I would never have discovered a more decadent, hazelnut-infused variation of the chocolate citrus custard.
Academic forays are just as messy. On the first day of my research internship, I spent hours on the microscope imaging sparkling quantum dots, blissfully unaware that I was actually gazing at a fluorescent lump of dust. When I write fiction, I’d pilot a superficially dazzling plot that crashes after a few strategic jabs. At university-hosted poetry readings, I would get hopelessly lost on campus…yes, even with a map.
Not surprisingly, messing up can be utterly demoralizing. My first submission to (and rejection from) a professional publication had the comment, “Your writing just sucks.” Still, in such moments of despair, Pooh’s reminder to “try, try, again” is a lifeline. Messing up and starting over is the only way to improve. After a literary rejection, I re-read my story to identify weak points, to engineer potential fixes and send them off to friends for review, and to edit over and over. I am proud to say that while many of my stories have faced repeated denials, each piece nevertheless found a journal to call home.
Looking at defeat not through disappointment, but through the optimistic and optimizing lens of trying again, is the best lesson I’ve ever learned. Without persistence, I would never have loved spicy food, single particle tracking, or Salman Rushdie. It’s no surprise that my interests are so discordant and different — repeated trial and error is the only way to fully engage in them. In high school, I was obsessed with computer science for its clarity, the way a clean solution slips to light through nothing but logic. I tinkered with (and sometimes broke) red-green-blue LED circuits on breadboards, learned HTML/CSS to code an animated calendar for my blog, and spent hours cackling over cow-themed problems on the USA Computing Olympiad. Had I not immersed myself so deeply in STEM, I wouldn’t be able to so determinedly declare an interest in English today. Though I still find computer science engaging, I can’t deny the immeasurable joy of shaping words on paper into vibrant narratives that come alive, or reading the influential texts that have started movements, made laws, broken laws, changed minds, and touched lives. Narratives like Winnie the Pooh’s have revolutionized my entire mindset.
Still, I expect to continue making mistakes in the future. Like Pooh Bear, I look forward to bumbling and singing my way through the grand adventure of life. (650)
Moral Values in Winnie the Pooh and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The fantasy is a literary genre that is believed that its only public are children since adults opt for a more realistic literature, but if we think about the benefits fantasy gives is the capacity of allowing readers to visualize the world in different ways. That means that fantasy turns readers into open-minded people, who can associate what they are reading with the society that surrounds them. Taking the real world to fantasy causes it to deal with questions about morality. By exaggerating situations and the themes of fantasy, children can learn and know better about the right and wrong things, and they can come to moral structures to deal with their own life’s problems.
The two-text chosen to make this analysis are Winnie the Pooh (1924) written by A.A. Milne and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) by Roal Dahl. We can notice how fantasy is used as a mode of writing to engage the attention of an inexperienced reader to teach children about the moral problems that happens in everyday life.
To begin with, we are going to focus on the story of Winnie the Pooh. The story written by A. A. Milne addressed his son, Christopher, who becomes the protagonist of the story, accompanied by his friends the animals, who play a very important role throughout the story as they enact different values. Those animals were the toys Christopher had as a child. So, that show us a different perspective of the story since, instead of being only one story, there are two stories to tell. The first one is the story of the real Christopher Robin who is been told a story by his father, and that story is the second one in which the author gave voice to the animals. This second story is the one used to teach the values with the use of fantasy in an animal story. In the case of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, it can be seen how the author give human characteristics to animal characters and that help children to identify with the characters and to learn of the relationship among them. The figure of the animals becomes essential to understand the background of the novel in which all the characters, in their own way and depending on their personality, give us lessons about everyday life. Children who read this book will receive those lessons in a clearer way because, as children, they are attracted to the figure of animals and even more if they see that in the book a child appears as the protagonist, who could be himself. Thus, children feel identified and therefore try to imitate what they see and read in a book. Among the values that children can learn through the personality we can find the sense of friendship between animals and children and among animals. This is reflected in numerous conversations in the book. For example, the character of Winnie the Pooh present a bear who has been able to teach kids how to appreciate their friends. He shows himself loving his friends and appreciating the relationship with others. We can see that many of the times Winnie the Pooh is going to refer to any of the other animals he adds before the name the word ‘friend’ so that gives us an idea of how important friendship is to Pooh. An example of that is presented here, ‘ONE fine day Pooh had stumped up to the top of the Forest to see if his friend Christopher Robin was interested in Bears at all’ (Milne 1924:99). We not only find it in conversations but also in different acts. An example of this is the moment in which Winnie the Pooh is trapped in the exit hole of Rabbit’s house. After being stuck, Rabbit tried to help him by pulling him, but he was not successful and that is why he called Christopher Robin. In the end, after a week waiting for Winnie the Pooh to lose weight, to get out of the hole easily, Christopher Robin, Rabbit and his friends managed to take him out by pulling him. It can be seen in this quotation: ‘So for a week Christopher Robin read that sort of book at the North end of Pooh, and Rabbit hung his washing on the South end… and in between Bear felt himself getting slenderer and slenderer. And at the end of the week Christopher Robin said, “Now!” (Milne 1924:27).
Here it is demonstrated how friendship and teamwork make one’s problems less. Another important value that needs to be spread is the sense of generosity and empathy with the rest of the people. That lesson is given to children by animals, although who starts it from the beginning is Winnie the Pooh but thank to him, another animal participates in a generous act. That act corresponds to Eeyore’s birthday in which Eeyore seemed so sad and Winnie asked him what happened; in that moment Eeyore told him that it was his birthday, but anyone remembered so Winnie the Pooh started looking for a present and on the way home he found Piglet who, in turn, looked for another present for Eeyore. The fact of looking for anything to make a person happy on such a special day for him makes us see, both Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, how generosity must be presented in each one of us and it also teaches us to empathize, since no one likes to spend their birthday alone, or simply nobody wants to not be remembered. In that same moment we can appreciate another value but in that case, it is given by Eeyore. He feels so thankful because his friends gave him presents for his birthday but if we see deeper we can notice that he is okay with little since we see how Winnie and Piglet offer their gifts which really should be: a jar full of honey, not a single jar to save things and a balloon, not a piece of an exploited balloon but, Eeyore feels happy with the simple fact that his friends have given him some gifts. But this value can also be seen the other way around since, for example, Pooh was supposed to give Eeyore a pot full of honey, but he eats it in the way to Eeyore’s house, and Eeyore is presented as a character who only thinks about himself, how lonely he is and showing his sadness. The reason why we draw two conclusions from the same idea is because one of them is the one we can see at a glance, which in this case would be the selfishness of the characters, and the other is what we find if we go deeper and look for a teaching of that selfishness. Then it is important to mention the motif of trying everything and thinking that you can do everything. The least value we are going to talk about is the motif in which everyone is different, and all people should be accepted and respected for who they are. If we look to the different personalities of the characters, we can notice that they are so different among them but that is not an obstacle to be friends since it is beneficial to relate to people different from us because this gives us different points of view and helps us to be more open-minded. For example, Christopher Robin is the sole human character and, although he is a child he represents the maturity in the book while Winnie the Pooh is different from him since he is considered as a ‘Bear of very little brain’.
Now we are going to analyse the moral values presented in the fantasy in Roal Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). In this novel it is presented a ‘fantastic world’ where there is a chocolate factory in a town where Charlie lives. The novel presents morality from the beginning of the novel, in which we are shown a child from a poor family who is anxious to have under his power a golden ticket that allows him to access the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka, a factory closed for years. As the day went by, the first lucky ones came to get those tickets, since there were only five in the whole world, hidden inside Willy Wonka’s chocolate bars. Something that characterizes each of the first winners is their ambition to win the prize, not to enjoy the visit of the factory, like Charlie did. That is why four of the five winners leave the scene, progressively, accompanied by the fantastic characters of the Oompa Loompas and their warnings songs. An example could be the chapter 17 in which Augustus Gloop, because of being drinking the hot chocolate’s river, fell on it and disappear and then the Oompa-Loompas started to sing: ‘the five Oompa-Loompas on the far side of the river suddenly began hopping and dancing about and beating wildly upon a number of very small drums. ‘Augustus Gloop!’ they chanted. ‘Augustus Gloop! Augustus Gloop! Augustus Gloop!’ (Dahl, 1964:47). An important value presented in the book is that every person is different and that there are actions that should be avoided. First, Charlie teaches the value of the kindness by sharing his birthday present with his family since it is a chocolate bar, a sweet that can only be eaten once a year on his birthday and therefore he decides to share it so that everyone can enjoy that pleasure, ‘He smiled at them, a small sad smile, and then he shrugged his shoulders and picked up the chocolate bar and held it out to his mother, and said, ‘Here, Mother, have a bit. We’ll share it. I want everybody to taste it.’ (Dahl. 1964:20). Augustus Gloop and Violet Beauregarde show rudeness and insubordination, like in this moment when he did not pay attention to what Willy Wonka said of taking a blade and for that we must assume all the warnings: ‘Automatically, everybody bent down and picked one blade of grass — everybody, that is, except Augustus Gloop, who took a big handful.’ (Dahl, 1964:40) or when she took the chewing-gum meal despite being warned by Willy Wonka not to be quite right: ‘Oh, to blazes with that!’ said Violet, and suddenly, before Mr Wonka could stop her, she shot out a fat hand and grabbed the stick of gum out of the little drawer and popped it into her mouth.’ (Dahl 1964:56). The next character, Veruca Salt, shows the value of the avarice, she demands anything she wants to have, and she does not stop complaining until she gets it: ‘Daddy!’ shouted Veruca Salt (the girl who got everything she wanted). ‘Daddy! I want an Oompa-Loompa! I want you to get me an Oompa-Loompa!’ (Dahl 1964:43). Here children can learn how to be grateful with what they have because having more things does not imply being happier. Then, Mike Teeves is presented as a child addicted to television and that is something children must avoid since they need an active life, do sports and going out, not staying in front of a screen without doing nothing. What can be highlighted about the personalities of each child is that, those who behaved badly are punished and therefore the child who reads the book will know that the actions the characters did were not right and for that reason they should not follow their actions. However, we find Charlie, who from the start behaved appropriately and this gives us two conclusions. Firstly, it does not matter what social class you come from or how rich you are, what really matters is the politeness and knowing how to behave in different situations, and finally we can see that from the beginning Willy Wonka knew who would be the winner because during the visit he puts some child in reach of something that really catches their attention, in the case of Augustus it was the chocolate, for Veruca it would be the craving for a squirrel, Violet a chewing gum and Mike a television.
As a conclusion, we have analysed two different novels from different periods but despite this we see how fantasy works in the same way in both. Fantasy is used as a medium through which authors can spread different values adapted to children. In this case, the values that we have analysed are focus on the way the characters behave, since children can see themselves reflected in them. Both texts reflect values about the behaving, but they are presented in a different way. In one hand, A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (1924) focus in the friendship among characters, how to solve your problems if you work in team, and it teaches children not to be selfish, which can be seen when Winnie the Pooh ate the jar of honey in the way of Eeyore’s house. In the other hand, in Roal Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) we focus on the behaviour of the five children since the reader can relate on them. Thanks to the punishment Willy Wonka and the bad behaviour of four of the five children, the reader can understand what is wrong and what is right. Finally, without using fantastic elements that spreading of values may not have work considering that children are attracted by things like animals or maybe an enormous factory of chocolate so, authors must find the correct elements to make the children learn while they are enjoying the reading.
Winnie the Pooh: Character’s Biography
Personal biography of Winnie the Pooh
I met Winnie the Pooh outside his house in the Hundred Acre Wood. Hed invited me for some lunch. When I got there I saw a small yellow bear sitting on a stump with his paw in a large pot of honey. -You must be Winnie the Pooh, I said. Or Pooh Bear as some of my friends call me. You are just too late for lunch, Im all out of honey, he replied. He stood up and scratched his nose as if he was thinking of something very important. Oh, bother, he said. I just know I got some more honey somewhere. Then he looked up on me and told me that the reason he invited me was because he needed help to write a personal biography. My spelling isnt that good so I hope you will help me, Winnie the Pooh said. I just couldnt resist this request, so I told him I would write for him. So here it is, the personal biography of Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh, or Pooh Bear, or just Pooh, is a small golden bear. He wears a small red t-shirt. He lives by him self in the Hundred Acre Wood in a large tree. His favourite thing to do is eating honey and to play with his very good friend Piglet. The one thing his is most proud of in his life is that he has discovered the North Pole. He has also invented the famous game of Poohstick, which is a game where you drop small sticks in the water from a bridge and run to the other side to see which stick comes first.
Pooh is also known to be a brave bear. He goes hunting for Heffalumps with Piglet from time to time, and he is nearly ever scared at all.
Theres one incident hes not so proud of; one time he went to visit his friend Rabbit he got stuck in Rabbits front door. It happened that Pooh had eaten too much honey and became large to get out. He had to stay in Rabbits front door for a whole week without anything to eat. The lucky thing was that his friend Christopher Robin read for him meanwhile. Winnie the Pooh is very fond of Christopher Robin. Pooh can always go to him for help and advice.
Pooh is rather poetic and he loves to make small tunes and hums about everyday things. All in all hes a kind and happy bear who likes to help others and just enjoy life with his friends.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development: How Does It Relate to Using Toys in Daycare Classroom?
Block Sorter: A Developmental Toy
In my daycare classroom, we have a small purple Winnie the Pooh block sorter. It is shaped like a bee hive, with honey dripping down the side and small bees attached all over the sides of the hive. The top of the hive features a lid that opens and closes for the retrieval of blocks from inside of the hive. The top of the lid has a square cut out, perfect for the toy’s accompanying assortment of vibrant and colorful square blocks to fit into. The hive features a switch that can be turned to “ABC’s”, “OFF”, or “Questions.” When the switch is set to “ABC’s,” a small portion of the ABC song will play each time a block is successfully put through the square-shaped cut out in the lid of the toy. When the switch is set to “Questions,” the toy will ask a question regarding the color or letter of the block that is successfully inserted into the cut out.
I will be using this toy in the context of my preschool class- they are toddlers, all around eighteen months old. The children take turns sitting in the floor with this toy, turning and manipulating the blocks to fit into the cut out; if the block is not turned perfectly, it will not fit through the cut out. They must use their fine motor skills to try to maneuver the block into the small hole.
I believe that this shape sorter toy is directly related to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development when used in the context of the eighteen month old children. Under Piaget’s sensorimotor stage, this toy would become most effective during the Tertiary Circular Reactions, Novelty, and Curiosity sub stage. Piaget states that during this sub stage, which takes place between the ages of twelve to eighteen months, “”Infants become intrigued by the many properties of objects and by the many things they can make happen to objects; they experiment with new behavior.” The children are experimenting with their ability to twist and turn the square blocks to fit them into the hole in the top of the hive. They are intrigued when they are able to fit the blocks into the square cut out: their interests are peaked, and they want to repeat this action again and again, until they master the concept. This goes along with Piaget’s description of children during this stage being like “young scientists.” The toddlers are conducting experiments to get the results that they want from the blocks and the hive.
This toy could also coincide with the next sub stage described in Piaget’s theory- the Internalization of Schemes. This sub stage falls between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four months, and is described by Piaget as the time when infants develop the ability to use primitive symbols and form enduring mental representations. Once the toddlers master the skill of fitting the block into the cut out, they remember exactly how to turn and manipulate the block in order to make it fit each time with ease. They are able to make an enduring mental representation and can recall what to do when presented with the challenge of the blocks.
Pooh: The Master of Flow
Within this current day and age, people of the world have a distinct inability to relax; with an abundance of things to do, places to see, and technology to use, stressful lifestyles thrive. Individuals often find themselves struggling desperately to attain control over every aspect of their lives, which generally places them further from their goals in the end. In order to rid oneself of these petty problems, one must connect with their inner Pooh. Benjamin Hoff, in his book The Tao of Pooh, uses Winnie the Pooh and other illustrations to describe Taoism. He tells how a true Taoist flows with the characteristics of Wu Wei, knows the experience of life to be sweet, and views the world and themselves as un-carved blocks.
With so many ups and downs, it may seem difficult to define life as anything other than unpredictable. However, as Hoff explains the bases of Taoism, the experiences of life are what make it sweet, not the events themselves. He begins by comparing the three teachings of Asia with a painting called The Vinegar Tasters. The picture depicts K’ung Fu-tse, Buddha, and Lao-tse trying the Vinegar; “The first has a sour look on his face, the second wears a bitter expression, but the third man is smiling”(Hoff 3). The reference depicts the Taoist view on life. Whilst the others showed disconnected with the taste of the bitter liquid, Lao-tse smiled in recognition of the unique experience. Hoff continues on to explain that “The basic Taoism that we are concerned with here is simply a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life”(Hoff 5). The philosophy does not force the view that everything in the world is positive, for there will be times on both sides of the spectrum. Instead, it promotes the importance of experience; whether a good or a bad time, insightful lessons can be found within any sort of experience.
In order for life to be viewed as truly sweet, it must be looked at as an un-carved block, from the perspective of an un-carved block. Again, Pooh is used as an example of this very point. “Pooh looked at his two paws. He knew that one of them was the right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was the right, then the other one was the left” (Hoff 12). Hoff uses Pooh’s state of being ambidextrous to portray him as an un-carved block. Pooh has gone through his entire life without assigning a dominant hand. With this action alone, he proves to be in a state of complete balance. Apart from living an even life, Pooh approaches situations with the mind of a Taoist. He uses his simplistic logic to get his friends and himself out of the forest, meanwhile any other attempt to escape lead them right back to the pit where they started. “I thought that if we looked for this pit, we’d be sure not to find it, which would be a good thing, because then we might find something that we weren’t looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really”(Hoff 13). Seeing the repeated results as they attempted to find their home and merely went in circles, Pooh realized that the only logical thing to do was to look for the pit. This mirrors the idea in Taoism that depicts how one must pay attention to natural patterns in order to understand the working of nature.
Once an individual is familiar with the flow of the world around them, they are able to relax and let the current take them. Hoff uses the example of an old man that came out of raging rapids completely unharmed. The old man explains his method; “I go down with the water and come up with the water. I follow it and forget myself. I survived because I don’t struggle against the water’s Superior power. That’s all”(Hoff 69). This example shows that fighting against the current of the river will only bring harm. The same goes when it comes to going through life, a natural flow of situations make for an easy ride if they are followed, or a difficult time if they are not. These situations often reveal themselves as the easiest and most straightforward route. “When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle”(Hoff 75). Often times people attempt to find more within a predicament, making the problem more difficult than it should be. With the teachings of Taoism, Wu Wei represents the natural flow, showing how the obvious aspects of life should be capitalized on in order to meet the least resistance.
Within the pages of The Tao of Pooh, Hoff is able to use a relatable childhood character and metaphorical examples to convey the beliefs and workings of Taoism to his readers. He shows how Pooh is able to view life as being sweet, looking at it as a simple ride that he can jump on. Looking at things as their natural state of being, Pooh is able to follow the easiest road as he relaxes for the ride.
Billy and Winnie: Breaking the Boundaries with Rhythm, Rhyme, and Repetition
Nonsense poetry appeals to readers of all ages because it entertains the mind as well as the mouth. Drawing heavily on humorous imagery, creative word plays, and fantasy, nonsense poetry typically uses strong rhyme and rhythm to build and break tension. By working within the established structure of poetry and the English language it allows the reader to enjoy the breaking of these rules and the gleeful childlike experience of thinking and imagining outside the bounds of the adult world.
The first poem is titled “Billy Batter” and is featured on page 18 of Alligator Pie, the collection of poems written by Dennis Lee. This poem makes use of repeating rhymes and rhythms to create a solid framework within which to explore the child’s perspective on problems, problem solving, and emotional states which accompany dealing with loss. Breaking the poem down into stanzas makes it clear to see the way in which it is structured. The first two stanzas closely repeat one another and the third stanza breaks this pattern and provides resolution. The first stanza is eight lines long and can be further divided into groups of lines consisting of three, then two, and then three lines again. This pattern is echoed in the second stanza. The rhyme scheme is A,A,B,C,C,B,B,B. The emphasis being on the last mono-rhyme of the word “dad” which is repeated three times. Along with the word “dad” there is the repetition of the phrase “a dragon ran off with my dad”. This fantasy image of a dragon stealing his father is juxtaposed against the much more realistic problem of a lost cat. Here Lee takes an everyday event that is common in childhood, parallels an impossible event beside it, and connect the two with the word “And”. Both of these are what is causing Billy Batter to feel “so sad” but the emphasis is on the loss of his father. However, there is a sense of humor to the situation because it is portrayed as fantasy not reality. The first three lines also work as a group in that they are structured in a call and response style and also feature a repeating rhythm of trochee. The response changes rhythm with the fourth line being in iamb and the rest of the lines being mostly in anapest with a double stress on the words “my dad” which stand alone in line seven. The second stanza is a repetition of the first replacing the word “dad” for “mum” and the incident of losing the cat with ripping jeans. Again, another believable situation is coupled with an unbelievable one and both are reasons for Billy to feel “glum”. The anapest rhythm further emphasizes the word “my mum” and there is the downbeat on the first syllable of “monster” giving it more weight. So, at this point there are four problems which need solving and the third stanza resolves all of them in a childlike fantasy way.
As Lee has already created strong repeating patterns of rhyme and rhythm, when he breaks them in the third stanza they become more noticeable signaling the change in emotions and the solving of the problems. The first three lines keep the same trochee rhythm but there is a significant change in the words used. The rhyme of “Batter” and “better” has a different feel than “Batter and “matter” with the change in the vowel sound and the addition of the consonance “Billy Batter…better”. There is also a change in the rhyme scheme with the addition of two extra couplets which turns the rhyming couplets into a list of four instead of two in the previous stanzas. Lee adds the Canadian city of “Saskatchewan” to his poem giving it a specific place that children can imagine a dragon being banished to thus adding more humor and fantasy to the writing. The four scenarios use the same rhythm of iamb and anapest which gives a sense of ease and completion. In the end all is resolved and most importantly the parents “came back”. Interestingly the “monster” falls down a “wishing” well and this is a clue that the child has wished away the monster. This is a magical element and appeals to children’s sense of power which counteracts their normally powerless position especially in the case of losing one’s parent. The dragon and the monster can be interpreted as new people who have started relationships with the parent and are seen by the child to be taking his parent away. In the world of a child small things can be big so by grouping them together Lee not only creates a visual picture of the imaginative world of the child which is full of monsters and dragons but he also connects the small losses of a cat and clothing to the large ones of the loss of parents and family. What was lost has been found, the father is returned, what was ripped has been repaired, the mother is returned. This is a poem about damage and loss. The break-up of the family and the child’s desire to fix the problems. Lee uses the style of nonsense with its strong rhymes and rhythms, and fantasy imagery, to tap into the child’s view of the world.
The second poem in this analysis is titled “Anxious Pooh Song” and is featured on pages 150-51 of the book Winnie-the-Pooh written by A. A. Milne. This playful thirty- eight line poem employs a call and response structure that asks silly questions to which the answers are obvious. It circles around telling a short narrative using the strong prosodic elements of rhyme and rhythm typically found in nonsense poems and children’s nursery rhymes. Although the rhyme and rhythm schemes appear simple at first, they are both quite complex and are used to build tension, quickly break and release it, then using circling and repetition, start rebuilding it again. There is a conversational tone between the speaker and the listener, however, both of them are in Pooh’s own mind and this adds humor to the poem while at the same time reinforcing the characterization of Pooh as innocently quirky and a bit muddled. Although the original poem is without stanza breaks, for analysis it is helpful to work with groups of lines which fit with a conversational pace as well groupings for the rhyming scheme and use of repetition. The first group is made up of six lines which all have an end mono-rhyme, ” Pooh” “who” “do” “knew”, and is then unexpectedly broken on the last line, by the word “wetting” creating the unusual pattern of A,A,A,A,A,B. This break suddenly releases the tension which had been building and it creates space for the second group of twelve lines which begin by echoing the first three lines of the first group. In terms of rhythm, these first three lines of both groups, are all iamb. This effect puts the emphasis on the words “Cheers”, “Pooh”, “who” in the first grouping, and “Cheers”, “Bear”, “where” in the second grouping. These iamb lines are followed by a combination of iamb and anapest, finishing with a strong down beat and an exaggerated “tt” sound in “wetting”. This break in the rhyme and rhythm pattern signals the end of the grouping and the answer to the question of “what did he do”.
The second grouping starts with the same repeating rhyme of C,C,C, and it keeps the same rhythm of iamb, however it changes the next rhyme scheme into couplets. The couplet D,D, of “swim” and “him”, then “who” and “do”, followed by a triplet of “Pooh”, “who”, “Pooh” and finishing with the word “forgetting”, repeats the original rhyme scheme of A,A,A,A,A,B. This repetition of the mono-rhyme from in the first grouping, brings the poem in a circle creating a sensation of completion or release after a long building up of tension. Rhythmically the second group starts with iamb for the first four lines and breaks this pattern with an anapest in line five. It moves back and forth from iamb to anapest which gives the poem a lilting and skipping along movement. The iamb drum like regularity is broken by the anapest addition in each line. The last line in this group finishes with a heavy doubled down beat on the final word “forgetting” lending much more weight to the word as well as emphasizing the concept of Pooh as a bit confused and the humor of his being muddled. Moving into the third grouping, the rhythm and rhyme scheme becomes more complicated at the same time that the narrative is finishing. This grouping uses the rhyme scheme E,E,F,F,F,G,G,F,F, employing couplets and a triplet and completes with an alternating rhyme of H,I,H,I. Whereas the first two groupings had relied on iamb rhythm, this third grouping switches to a primarily anapest, or a combination of anapest and iamb, rhythms which gives this part of the poem a chaotic and rushing feeling in comparison with the steadiness of the lines which were solely iamb. The fourth and last grouping starts with same words as the first three lines of the first and second groupings. It also returns to the simple steady iamb rhythm and the simple triplet rhyme scheme of A,A,A,C,C,C. This repetition creates the feeling of having come full circle. The last two lines finish with a cheerful anapest rhythm and A,A rhyme scheme which again adds to the feeling of completion. This completed feeling of resolution however is broken by the very last line which asks the same question, “what did he do?”. This question which began the poem adds the final touch of humor because as it brings the reader full circle it also speaks of forgetting, being muddled or confused, and the hopelessness of explanations.
This poem and the feelings it invokes reflects the narrative of the book. In chapter ten, Christopher Robin is throwing a party for Pooh, to which Owl responds with the question “you are, are you?”(p.147). He explains to Owl that “it’s to be a special sort of party, because it’s because of what Pooh did when he did what he did to save Piglet from the flood” to which Owl responds with another question “Oh, that’s what it’s for, is it?”(p. 149). This statement and questioning response is followed by yet another. Christopher makes the statement ” Yes, so will you tell Pooh as quickly as you can, and all the others , because it will be tomorrow” and Owl replies” ‘Oh, it will, will it?’ Said Owl, still being as helpful as possible” (p.149). This small conversation explains the subject of the poem, how it will be structured, as well as the humor being that the questions are not “helpful” at all. Lastly the humor is also created by the understanding that it is anxious Pooh’s “muddled” mind as he worries that nobody will know what the party is for and that nothing will go right. The poem has a playful and happy tone as it starts, and finishes, with “3 cheers for Pooh”. Although the poem does make use of the mono-rhyme scheme it’s monotony is broken up by a rolling rhythm which moves back and forth between iamb and anapest as well as a variation in line length and rhyme scheme changing between couplets and triplets as well as the quick and unexpected end rhyme changes. The humor comes from questioning the obvious, the upbeat and cheerful nature of the subject, as well as the use of sheer repetition. By using strong prosodic devices these poems beg to be spoken aloud to let the mouth and ear play, explore, and experience the physical sensations and patterns of sounds that the words create.
Nonsense poetry is not just about the use of made up words, such as “walkamus” and “talkamus”, although this is often used, it is only one of the many elements at work in this style of literature. In the two poems analyzed the nonsensical elements were created by the combination of the conventional with the absurd, the heavy use of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition, as well as the use of humor, which created a poem that appeals to the child by being entertaining and at the same time by expressing a childlike perspective of the adult world.
Lee, Dennis Alligator Pie, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto 2012
Milne, A. A. Winnie-the-Pooh Dutton Children’s Books, New York, NY 1988