Jane was a stout and stalwart child,


Jane was a stout and stalwart child

Her voice was very far from mild:

Although requested not to shout

She bawled, she screamed, day in, day out.

Had she once learned her mouth to shut

She might have lived far longer; but

The tragedy I now relate

Befell her at the age of eight.


Each year her parents went with glee

To spend a week beside the sea,

And knowing, as good parents do,

Their bounden duty, took Jane too.

One morning when Jane bounced from bed

Her loving mother to her said,

‘Jane, when you leave our bungalow,

Tread softly, whisper as you go —

The man next door is very ill.’

Jane sat beneath his window-sill,

She screeched, she wailed, she roared, she yowled,

She yelled, she bellowed, and she howled,

Till with one last triumphant shriek

Her voice was gone — she could not speak.

They tied a stocking round her throat,

And, to distract her, hired a boat

To scull her up and down the shore

And round the pier till half-past four.

The way was long, the wind was cold

The boatman was infirm and old,

But suddenly he cried — Great Scott!

I’m in the boat and Jane is not!

This proved too true: no sign of Jane; 

But those who sat along the beach

Reported that far out of reach

They had remarked a child afloat

Some yards behind a rowing-boat:

It splashed and wallowed as it played

And waved, but did not cry for aid:

Then as they watched it from the shore

They could distinguish it no more.

Jane’s parents, though their grief was great

In time resigned themselves to fate,

As yours would, children, though with pain,

Should you conduct yourselves like Jane.                                                                            1954 – 1960