Father Goose, His Book

by L. Frank Baum


[Editor's note:  Some of these poems depict ethnic stereotypes of African-Americans, Chinese, Irish-Americans, Indigenous Americans, and Indians.  Proceed with caution!]



THERE is a fascination in the combination of jingling verse and bright pictures that always appeals strongly to children.  The ancient "Mother Goose Book" had these qualities, and for nearly two centuries the cadences of its rhymes have lingered in the memories of men and women who learned them in childhood.

    The author and illustrator of "Father Goose" have had no intent to imitate or parody the famous verse and pictures of "Mother Goose."  They own to having followed, in modern fashion, the plan of the book that pleased children ages ago--and still pleases them.  These are newer jingles and pictures for children of to-day, and intended solely to supplement the nursery rhymes of our ancestors.


Father Goose

Old Mother Goose became quite new,
And joined a Woman's Club;
She left poor Father Goose at home
To care for Sis and Bub.

They called for stories by the score,
And laughed and cried to hear
All of the queer and merry songs
That in this book appear.

When Mother Goose at last returned
For her there was no use;
The goslings much preferred to hear
The tales of FATHER GOOSE.



Why does the doggy bark, papa,
    Why does the doggy bark?

The reason why,
    if you must know,
Is that the little
    dog can't crow,
And so he has to bark.

Why does the rooster crow, papa?
    Why does the rooster crow?

The reason why
    I'll tell to you;
Because the rooster
cannot mew,
And so he has to crow.

Why does the kitten mew, papa,
    Why does the kitten mew?

The reason why
    I'm forced to say
Is that the kitten
    Can not bray,
And so she has to mew.

Why does the donkey bray, papa,
    Why does the donkey bray?

The reason for
    the donkey's bray
Is that the beast
was born that way,
And so, he has to bray.


Did You Ever See a Rabbit?

Did you ever see a rabbit climb a tree?
Did you ever see a lobster ride a flea?
Did you ever?
No, you never!
For they simply couldn't do it, don't you see!

Did you ever see a fire burn with snow?
Did you ever climb a ladder down below?
Did you ever?
No, you never!
For these things cannot happen, don't you know?

Did you ever see a ship sail on the land?
Did you ever hold a mountain in your hand?
Did you ever?
No, you never!
For it really can't be done, you understand.


To Walk Jim Jones

To walk Jim Jones was not contented,
And so an air-ship he invented;
    He sailed away
    One Summer day
    And people say
He won't return very soon,
For Jim Jones sailed up to the moon.


Clockwork Man

Now, once I owned a funny man,
A clockwork was inside him;
You'd be surprised how fast he ran
When I was there beside him.

He was the pride of all the boys
Who lived within our town;
But when this man ran up a hill
He always would run down!


Tick Tock

Don't you hear our friend
                               the clock?
With his pendulum so swinging
All the day he's softly singing
Can't you hear our friend
                                the clock?


This Bold Boy

This bold boy had done no wrong;
His hair had simply grown too long.
So Auntie placed the bowl just so
To see how far the shears could go.

Now the boy is full of glee;
His hair is nicely cut, you see;
And Auntie gives her head a bob,
To see how well she did the job.


There Was a Goose

There was a Goose in Syracuse
    And full of fun was he;
He met a Clown and bought his gown
    And thought a clown he'd be.

But for his jokes the little folks
    Had very little use:
And when the Clown
    danced up and down
They thought he was a Goose!


Mister Jinks

Have you seen Mister Jinks, Mister Jinks, Mister Jinks,
Have you seen him when he's walking down the street?
    He nods and then he winks
    And most everybody thinks
That is smile is really beautiful and sweet.

Have you seen Mister Jinks, Mister Jinks, Mister Jinks,
Have you seen him when he's walking down the lane?
    He's full of fun and folly,
    He's round and fat and jolly,
And we're always glad to see his face again.


Little Barelegs Runs

Little Barelegs runs
    and races all the day;
Birds and butterflies
    she chases far away.
In the brook she wades, and wishes
    She could hook the little fishes
Just to cook them in her dishes while at play.


Who's Afraid?

Who's afraid?

Ev'ry Goblin, known of old,
Perished years ago, I'm told.

Ev'ry Witch, on broomstick riding,
Has been burned or is in hiding.

Burglars dare not venture near
When they know that papa's here.

Lions you now only see
Caged in the menagerie.

And the Grizzly Bear can't hug
When he's made into a rug--

Who's afraid?


The Cats They Sit

The cats they sit upon the fence
                At night,
And show they hav'n't any sense
                Of right,
By making such a noise
They wake the girls and boys
And caterwaul till they commence
                To fight.


A Sailor from China

There once came a sailor from China,
And he fell in love with Aunt Dinah.
    And he laughed till he cried
    And he cried till he sighed:
"Oh , why wont you have me, Aunt Dinah?"

Then you should have heard old Aunt Dinah
Reply to this sailor from China,
               Saying "Sir don't you see
I could never agree
With a sailor that once
                   lived in China."


If Johnny Had No Eye

If our Johnny had no eye
Not a single thing he'd spy;
If our Johnny had no nose
He could never smell the rose;
If our Johnny had no ear
Not a thing could Johnny hear;
     And his mouth is made to talk,
     And his feet are made to walk
'Tis no wonder that I say
         Johnny's made a funny way!


Sally Dance

Have you seen little Sally
    Dance the Ostrich Dance?
The dainty way she does it
    Will surely you entrance.
With the left foot here,
    And the right foot there,
And the ostrich feathers waving
    In her golden hair:

She's Surely very charming--
    You'll see it at a glance--
When little Sally dances
    In the Ostrich dance.


Old Mister Micklejohn

Old Mister Micklejohn
Had a leg of hickory on;

    He went hippity,
    He went hoppity,
    To the baker's shop.

Bought a loaf and ate it up,
Bought some tea and drank a cup.

Then went hippity,
Home again from the
                   baker's  shop.


Baby Found a Feather

Baby found a feather in the hall;
Baby saw the masks upon the wall;
    She tickled first a chin
    Till it began to grin,
And wondered why the other one did bawl.


Jack Lantern

A pumpkin in pies
We all of us prize;
And surely
no pumpkin
        a boy would

But a jack-lantern light
       Is a terrible sight
And scares all the children
            that walk out at night.


A Bumble Bee

A Bumble-Bee was buzzing
    On a yellow holly-hock
When came along a turtle
    Who at the be did mock.
Saying, "prithee, Mr. Bumble,"
    Why make that horrid noise?
It's really distracting,
    And every one annoys."

"I'm sorry," said, quite humble,
    The buzzing, droning Bee,
"The noise is just my bumble,
    And natural, you see.
And if I didn't buzz so,
    I'm sure that you'll agree
I'd only be a big fly,
    And not a Bumble-Bee."


Grandpa's Head

Grandpa's head is rather bald,
    Bald the baby's too;
Grandpa has n't many teeth,
    Baby has a few.

Grandpa sits within his chair
    All the live-long day,
Watching baby sitting there
    Busy at his play.


Uncle Dick Gave Me a Dolly

Uncle Dick gave me a dolly,
        Funny doll, as you can see;
'Twas an Injun, so he called my
        Dolly "Ab-or-rig-i-ne."

Dolly's made of rags and
Can't be broke by girls
                               like me;
So I think he'll last
Funny "Ab-o-rig-i-ne."


Captain Bing

Captain Bing was a Pirate King,
    And sailed the broad seas o'er;
On many a lark he sailed his bark
    Where none had sailed before,
And filled his hold so full of gold
    That it would hold no more.

The sea was smooth, and so, forsooth,
    They took a bit of leisure,
And all the crew. good men and true
    A hornpipe dance for pleasure
And had their fling, while Captain Bing
    Kept watch above the treasure.

The wind it blew, and all the crew
    Were sorry that it blew so;
If they were wrecked they might expect
    To share the fate of Crusoe,
And ride the spars like jolly tars--
    All shipwrecked men must do so.

The gale it roared, and all on board
    Began to say their prayers,
And Captain Bing commenced to sing,
    To drown his many cares
But when he found that he had drowned,
    It took him unawares.


I Had a Dog

I had a dog
       whose head was red.
He always slept
       upon his bed.
He always ate
       what he was fed
And barked when-e'er
      a word was said.


Little Tommy Toddlekin

         Little Tommy Toddlekin,
He fell Down and bumped his shin;
         Hurt him sadly.
         Cried quite badly,
Now his shin is well again.

Organ Grinder

Have you seen the
       Organ Grinder
With a monkey
                on a string?
He stands upon the sidewalk
And makes the music ring.

And all the little children
    Around him dance and play
And have a merry time
    Before he goes away.

The monkey climbs the houses
    To windows everywhere,
And gathers all the pennies
    The children have to spare.

Master Bunny

Master Bunny 
                  looks so funny
When he's sitting at his ease.
Little Dick
                 declares the trick
Any audience will please.


Mr. Green

         Oh, have you seen Mr. Green?
He is neither fat nor lean,
   Laughs and cries
Smiles and sighs
    Eats and drinks
Reads and thinks.
    Coughs and sneezes
When he pleases
     Walks and ambles,
Skips and gambols,
     Slumbers deep
When asleep,
     Tears his clothes
Where 'ere he goes,
     Always found where he is seen--
Funny man is Mr. Green!



An elephant to a city went--
Poor old elephant!
And lived his life beneath a tent,
Eating, drinking, thinking, blinking,
With his trunk chain a-clinking,
Dreaming of the jungle cool,
Juicy leaves and rippling pool--
Poor old elephant!


Kitty Klymer

Kitty Klymer had a dress.
Gingham dress, all white and blue;
Tried to pick a water-cress,
Tore her dress an inch or two!
Home she ran, and in distress
Took a thread and needle, too,
Neatly mended her torn dress--
Now it is as good as new.



Was a little Chinaman.
Wooden shoes with pointed toes,
Almond eyes and tiny nose.

Pig-tail long and slick and black,
Clothes the same both front and back.
Funny little Chinaman,

*Corrected in the sixth edition, but remains in The Songs of Father Goose.


Little Nigger Boy

There was a little nigger boy
Hadn't any shoes;
He heard his mammy shoo the hens
And saved the shoos to use.

There was a little nigger boy
Hadn't any hat;
He wore instead a cabbage leaf,
It was so big and flat.

There was a little nigger boy
Hadn't any collar;
And when the copper collared him
Nigger boy did holler.

There was a little nigger boy
Hadn't any hose;
He bought a pear, but couldn't wear
It as you may suppose.

There was a little nigger boy
Hadn't any coat;
So he tried to borrow one
From a nanny goat.

*This stanza replaces the original third in the sixth edition.


John Harrison Hoy

           John Harrison Hoy
           Was a cute Yankee boy,
With a face that was freckled and red;
          "Each American boy
            Is a King," said young Hoy,
"For a crown always grows on his head."


Polly Wants a Cracker

"Polly wants a cracker!"
The parrot loud did shout.
"Here's a cracker, Polly,"
Said little Dickey Stout.

Poll took the cracker quickly,
Not knowing it was loaded,
But while she held it tightly
It suddenly exploded.

Polly gave an awful cry
Of mingled pain and rage.
She flew away from Dickey
And hid within her cage.

Baby Pulled the Pussy's Tail

Baby pulled the pussy's tail--
            Naughty boy!
Pussy gave a painful wail
Struggle hard without avail;
Still the baby pulled her tail--
            Naughty boy!

Pussy raised her little paw--
            Angry cat!
Gave the baby's face a claw!
Scratched his cheek till it was raw--
Awf'lest scratch you ever saw--
            Think of that!


Patsy Bedad

           Patsy Bedad
           Was a bright Irish lad
Who loved to work hard at his ease;

“When I grow up,” said he,
“I’ll a gentleman be,
For then I shall join the Police.”


             I knew a Caterpillar
Which crawled to see a miller,
           To ask if he would deign
           To sell a load of grain.

But when he came to buy
        He became a Butterfly,
So he couldn't use the grain
  And he flew away again.

Ding a Ling

Can't you hear the bell ring?

    First the man who sells the milk,
    Then a lady dressed in silk,
    Next a beggar asking bread,
    Glad to work when he is fed;

Can't you hear the bell ring?

    Now the gas man after money,
    Then a peddlar peddling honey;
    Then a plumber, then a drummer,
    Selling books to read in summer,

Can't you hear the bell ring?


Quite a Trick

It's quite a trick
                      ball to kick
And very hard to catch it:
Yet children say
                    they love to play.
And nothing else can match it.


Come Into Our Store

Will you come into our store
          and spend your money?
Will you come into our store
              and buy some honey?
We have gingerbread and pies,
And a host of naughty flies
Think that eating up our stock is very funny!


The Bandit

The Bandit is a handsome man,
    In operas he sings;
He wears a wig and fierce moustache
    And many other things.

He looks just like a robber bold,
    When on the stage he stands:
Real bandits lived in times of old
    In distant, foreign lands.


Miss Nancy Puts on Airs

Miss Nancy puts on airs
When her sister's dress she wears.
And thinks a grown up woman
                she can be.
She courtesies and bows
      And struts in furbelows
          As fine
                as any
                          lady you
                                       may see.


The Bossie-Cow

The Bossie-Cow is big and red,
    Her eyes are round and bright,--
And those great horns upon her head
    Are quite a horrid site.

And yet the Bossie's very kind
    And good to us, I think:
She's full of beefsteaks, you will find,
    And gives us milk to drink. 


Standing on the Sidewalk

Standing on the sidewalk, 
   As if it were his lair,
      Before McFarlan's window,
          Was a big black Bear,
His eyes were very small and fierce
      And wickedly did glare,
  A fact which all the children did deplore.

But never once
  he left his post,
In weather foul or fair,
And though this may surprise you, 
  It won't when I declare
This awful brute was stuffed,
And McFarlan put him there
   To serve
               as sign before his
                       clothing store!

A Man Last Tuesday

A man last Tuesday
       built a house
Without a window in it;
It had no roof,
       it had no floor,
No doorway to go in it.
It had no chimney,
       had no walls,
Nor stairs of
                any kind;
Because the man had
                 built this house
Entirely in his mind.


Goodness Me!

    Goodness me!
Into the baby's mouth there goes
A fat little tootsie with five little toes!
Why baby does it, nobody knows.
Thinks they are good to eat, I suppose--
    Goodness me!


Civilized Boy

Pray, what can a civilized
                            boy do now,
       When all the Dragons all
                                          are dead,
And the Giants stout,
                that we have read about,
      Have never one a head?

Now, wasn't it mean that Jack o'the
    Should slay these monsters fast,
And the other Jack should cut and hack
    When there weren't enough to last?

The boys today are as bold as they say,
       As ever they were of yore;
And they'd spill a flood
        of Dragon's Blood
     If Dragons lived
                   any more.


Babies' Serenade

Hear the babies' serenade:
Sweetest music ever made,
                So the babies think.

Johnny-boy will twang the string:
To the music's joyous swing,
                 Lullabies he'll hum.


Dolly's Run Away

Dolly's run away today,
             Dolly's run away!
Gone from home abroad to roam
And with the Gnome to play.

Dolly's such a naughty girl
             When she does appear
I am sure she must endure
A scolding quite severe!


Annie Waters

When Annie Waters lies asleep
      She's very fair to see,
And mama thinks no little girl
      Could any sweeter be.

When Annie Waters wakens up
       She romps with such a noise
That mamma thinks she's really worse
          Than six or seven boys!


A Bee Flew Down

A bee flew down and ate an ant,
    A bug he ate the bee;
A hen then gobbled down the bug
    But failed the hawk to see.
The hawk had eaten up the hen
    Before he saw the cat
Which ate him up, but then a dog
    Ate pussy quick as scat!
A wolf now sprang upon the dog
    And ate him in a trice,
And then a lion ate the wolf
    And found him very nice.

But when the lion fell asleep
             He said, "I really can't
Imagine why that wolf should taste
             Exactly like an ant!


There Was a Whale

          There was a whale
          Who had no tail.
And he was full of sorrow;
          He swam around
          Long Island Sound
And tried a tail to borrow.

         "Your tale is sad
          And quite too bad,"
The fishes all confided
         "But while our fins
           Are in our skins
We'll never be divided."

          But still his tail
          He did bewail
To one fish or the other,
          'Til they said "Oh
           Why don't you go
And try to grow another!"


A Little Man

Once there was a little man
Who stepped upon my toes.
He would not apologise
And so I pulled his nose.


Buy a Goose

Don't you want to buy a goose
                            or else a gander?
I've one to sell that could'nt
                           well be grander;
       For his voice is loud and sweet
       And his meat is good to eat--
To refuse to buy would surely
                               be a slander.


Miss Nancy Brown

                         Miss Nancy Brown
                            she came to town,
                          A basket by her side,
                       All filled with mud-pies
                                neat and round
                      That in the sun she'd dried.

She wandered up and wandered down
    And tried to sell her pies,
But only met with sneer and frown,
    To her intense surprise.

Miss Nancy Brown
               she left the town
And carried home her pies.
And on the ground
        she threw them down,
Which showed that she was wise.


Cootchie Cooloo

   Cootchie Cooloo
   Was a girl of Hindoo,
Who was rather too
      large for her size;
      Her teeth were
               quite white
      And her nose
              was all right,
But she had a bad squint
                 to her eyes.


Here Is Paddy Geegan

Here is Paddy Geegan, digging,
    Trying hard to make a well.
    Here is Paddy's billy goat, and
    Looking cross, I grieve to tell.
With bowed head and eye that flashes
Quickly at poor Pat he dashes.
    Now there's nothing more to tell--
    Both have fallen in the well.


Tim Jenkins Tried

    Tim Jenkins tried
    A horse to ride
Which was so fond of shying
    That I declare
    High in the air
The boy was quickly flying.


Rough Riders

    Rough Riders are
The pride of war.
But bucking bronchos truly
    Make riding rough
    And tough enough
When they become unruly.


The Coogie Bird

Oh have you heard the Coogie Bird?
It sings a song that's quite absurd.
It sings a song that is n't long,
And the song that it sings at it flaps its wings
    Is "Qwee-wee-wee" and "Qwee-wee-wird!"
Now isn't that song quite absurd,
    That's sung by the foolish Coogie Bird?


The Ship Will Go

When breezes blow the ship will go
        A sailing o'er the sea;
A flag apeak, she'll sail to seek
        Her country's enemy
And win a name of glorious fame
        Ere she
                        to me.



There was a man named Donnegan
    Who wandered up and down,
And always in the country stayed
    Unless he came to town.

The people to him kindly said
    "What to you want, my man?"
"'Tis work I want, oh, give me work!"
         Replied bold Donnegan.

But though he wandered north and south,
                 And traveled east and west,
               No work came to brave Donnegan
                  Who passed his days at rest.


Chickens at Night

Where do the chickens go at night--
    Heigh-ho!  Where do they go?
Under the breast of their mother they rest,
Finding her feathers a soft fluffy nest;
And that's where the chicks go at night,
Yes, there's where the chicks go at night.


Cats Babies Have

These are the cats the babies have
In China, far away;
They carry them where e're they go
       And love with them to play.

When baby pulls their heads way down
        The cats will say "mie-ew,"
As if they really were alive
       And knew the baby, too.


Sun Bear Dances

The Sun-Bear dances merrily
    Upon the ball so round,
And has to balance warily
    Or fall upon the ground.
To emulate a juggler great
    No better bear is found.


The Soldier

The soldier is a splendid man
    When marching on parade;
And when he meets the enemy
    He never is afraid.

And when he fires his musket off
    He loads it up again;
And when he charges on the foe
    Resistance is in vain.

The soldier is a fearless man
    When he to war does go;
He faces guns and never runs
    Unless 'tis at the foe.

And when he marches home again
    He's called a hero bold.
And many very wondrous tales
    Are by the soldier told.


Betsy Baker

Once a girl named Betsy Baker
Thought she'd like to be a Quaker;
On her head she put a shaker
Thinking that the shaker 'd make her
         Very like a real Quaker.


One Old Cat!

         One Old Cat!
         Batter's at the bat.
Pitch and catch--the batter's out!
Laugh and run and slide and shout--
A very merry game is that.
      And they call it
             One old Cat!


Boy from Kalamazoo

There was a boy
      from Kalamazoo
Who ate too much hot
               celery stew.
He felt quite ill
              But took a pill
And now he feels
                 as good
                      as new.


Boy, A Tiny Mite

There was a boy, a tiny mite,
Who tried to fly a mighty kite,
              And then, alas!
              It came to pass
Both boy and kite flew out of sight.

George Washington

When George Washington was young
    And full of energy,
He took his little hatchet
    And chopped a cherry tree.

His father grew quite angry,
    This sorry sight to see,
For he was very fond indeed
    Of that same cherry tree.

And so he questioned Georgie:
    "Who did this thing?" said he.
"I cannot tell a lie," said George,
    "I chopped the cherry tree."

The father then wept tears of joy,
    At such brave honesty;
"Your truthfulness is worth far more
       Than one small cherry tree."

And when his father walked away
   Georgie seized the ax with glee
And hacked away 'till he had felled
    Another cherry tree.

His father now returned in hast,
    took Georgie on his knee,
And said "I'll teach you to destroy
    My pretty cherry tree!" 

"Don't spank!" cried George; "I'll tell the truth,
    For still I'll honest be;
'Twas I, dear father, took the ax
    And chopped the cherry tree."

"Oh, ho!" Said Mr Washington
    "Unless I punish thee
Thy truth will cost to me the loss
    Of every cherry tree!"

'Twas full a week before poor George
    Sat down with any ease,
His father sold the hatchet
    And saved his cherry-trees.

Sammy Simpson

Sammy Simpson
            all the day
Loves at "Soldier Boy"
                      to play.
When it comes to
He is glad to say
                 "good night."

Seymour Credit

All of the pages of verse in
Father Goose, His Book
have been hand-lettered
Ralph Fletcher Seymour

Text typed and edited by Scott Andrew Hutchins, based on texts in Father Goose:  His Book (Sixth edition), The Songs of Father Goose, issues of The Baum Bugle, and online sources.  With acknowledgement to Mary Ann Hahn and The Bookshop.
Afterword forthcoming.