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Poems About Imagination

Table of Contents

Poems About Imaginative Childhood Experiences

  1. My Bed is a Boat by Robert Louis Stevenson
  2. The Garden Wasn't a Garden by Annette Wynne
  3. The Land of Counterpane by Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. The Land of Story-Books by Robert Louis Stevenson
  5. Foreign Lands by Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Young Soldiers by Anonymous
  7. The Ships of Yule by Bliss Carman
  8. Make-Believe Land by Peter Burn
  9. The Hayloft by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. The Lamplight Camp by Madison Cawein
  11. The Sailor by Abbie Farwell Brown
  12. The Unseen Playmate by Robert Louis Stevenson
  13. Pirate Story by Robert Louis Stevenson
  14. Autumn by Elizabeth Madox Roberts
  15. For a Child's Book by Annette Wynne
  16. A Good Play by Robert Louis Stevenson
  17. Land of School by Annette Wynne
  18. My Book by Annette Wynne
  19. Lions Running Over the Green by Annette Wynne
  20. Pine Cone by Hilda Conkling
  21. The Milky Way by Hilda Conkling
  22. Books Are Soldiers by Annette Wynne
  23. Fierce Adventures by Annette Wynne

More Poems About Imagination

  1. To Imagination by Emily Brontë
  2. On Imagination by Phillis Wheatley
  3. Coffea Arabica by William Henry Venable

    Childhood Imagination

  1. My Bed is a Boat

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    My bed is like a little boat;
    Nurse helps me in when I embark;
    She girds me in my sailor's coat
    And starts me in the dark.

    At night, I go on board and say
    Good night to all my friends on shore;
    I shut my eyes and sail away
    And see and hear no more.

    And sometimes things to bed I take,
    As prudent sailors have to do;
    Perhaps a slice of wedding-cake,
    Perhaps a toy or two.

    All night across the dark we steer;
    But when the day returns at last,
    Safe in my room, beside the pier,
    I find my vessel fast.

  2. The Garden Wasn't a Garden

    by Annette Wynne

    The garden wasn't a garden,
    It was a castle tall,
    The trees were mighty turrets,
    Ramparts, the garden wall.

    The breeze was the lone piper
    Playing a wild song,
    And Freddie was the Black Knight
    The afternoon long.

    Then dark came to the castle
    Around the piper's head,
    And Mother carried the Black Knight,
    And put him safe to bed.

  3. The Land of Counterpane

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    When I was sick and lay a-bed,
    I had two pillows at my head,
    And all my toys beside me lay
    To keep me happy all the day.

    And sometimes for an hour or so
    I watched my leaden soldiers go,
    With different uniforms and drills,
    Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

    And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
    All up and down among the sheets;
    Or brought my trees and houses out,
    And planted cities all about.

    I was the giant great and still
    That sits upon the pillow-hill,
    And sees before him, dale and plain,
    The pleasant land of counterpane.

  4. The Land of Story-Books

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    At evening when the lamp is lit,
    Around the fire my parents sit;
    They sit at home and talk and sing,
    And do not play at anything.

    Now, with my little gun, I crawl
    All in the dark along the wall,
    And follow round the forest track
    Away behind the sofa back.

    There, in the night, where none can spy,
    All in my hunter's camp I lie,
    And play at books that I have read
    Till it is time to go to bed.

    These are the hills, these are the woods,
    These are my starry solitudes;
    And there the river by whose brink
    The roaring lions come to drink.

    I see the others far away
    As if in firelit camp they lay,
    And I, like to an Indian scout,
    Around their party prowled about.

    So, when my nurse comes in for me,
    Home I return across the sea,
    And go to bed with backward looks
    At my dear land of Story-books.

  5. Foreign Lands

    Foreign Lands
    Foreign Lands
    by Lucille Enders
    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Up into the cherry tree
    Who should climb but little me?
    I held the trunk with both my hands
    And looked abroad on foreign lands.

    I saw the next door garden lie,
    Adorned with flowers, before my eye,
    And many pleasant places more
    That I had never seen before.

    I saw the dimpling river pass
    And be the sky's blue looking-glass;
    The dusty roads go up and down
    With people tramping in to town.

    If I could find a higher tree,
    Farther and farther I should see,
    To where the grown-up river slips
    Into the sea among the ships;

    To where the roads on either hand
    Lead onward into fairy land,
    Where all the children dine at five,
    And all the playthings come alive.

  6. Young Soldiers

    by Anonymous

    Oh, were you ne'er a schoolboy,
    And did you never train,
    And feel that swelling of the heart
    You ne'er can feel again?

    Did you never meet, far down the street,
    With plumes and banners gay,
    While the kettle, for the kettledrum,
    Played your march, march away?

    It seems to me but yesterday,
    Nor scarce so long ago,
    Since all our school their muskets took,
    To charge the fearful foe.

    Our muskets were of cedar wood,
    With ramrods bright and new;
    With bayonets forever set,
    And painted barrels, too.

    We charged upon a flock of geese,
    And put them all to flight—
    Except one sturdy gander
    That thought to show us fight.

    But, ah! we knew a thing or two;
    Our captain wheeled the van;
    We routed him, we scouted him,
    Nor lost a single man!

    Our captain was as brave a lad
    As e'er commission bore;
    And brightly shone his new tin sword;
    A paper cap he wore.

    He led us up the steep hillside,
    Against the western wind,
    While the cockerel plume that decked his head
    Streamed bravely out behind.

    We shouldered arms, we carried arms,
    We charged the bayonet;
    And woe unto the mullein stalk
    That in our course we met!

    At two o'clock the roll we called,
    And till the close of day,
    With fearless hearts, though tired limbs,
    We fought the mimic fray,—
    Till the supper bell, from out the dell,
    Bade us march, march away.

  7. The Ships of Yule

    by Bliss Carman

    When I was just a little boy,
    Before I went to school,
    I had a fleet of forty sail
    I called the Ships of Yule;

    Of every rig, from rakish brig
    And gallant barkentine,
    To little Fundy fishing boats
    With gunwales painted green.

    They used to go on trading trips
    Around the world for me,
    For though I had to stay on shore
    My heart was on the sea.

    They stopped at every port to call
    From Babylon to Rome,
    To load with all the lovely things
    We never had at home;

    With elephants and ivory
    Bought from the King of Tyre,
    And shells and silk and sandal-wood
    That sailor men admire;

    With figs and dates from Samarcand,
    And squatty ginger-jars,
    And scented silver amulets
    From Indian bazaars;

    With sugar-cane from Port of Spain,
    And monkeys from Ceylon,
    And paper lanterns from Pekin
    With painted dragons on;

    With cocoanuts from Zanzibar,
    And pines from Singapore;
    And when they had unloaded these
    They could go back for more.

    And even after I was big
    And had to go to school,
    My mind was often far away
    Aboard the Ships of Yule.

  8. Make-Believe Land

    by Peter Burn

    My three little darlings,
    Half buried in sand,
    Are "playing at houses"
    In make-believe land.

    Claudine is "my lady,"
    Maria is "maid,"
    And Ella is "waiter,"
    The table is laid.

    The feast-bidden playmates
    Are just coming in;
    And there is a clatter,
    And there is a din.

    A scraping, a bowing,
    A shaking of hand;
    They follow the fashion
    In make-believe land.

    Play on, little darlings,
    So wise in your day;
    You brighten with posey
    The prose of the way.

    Perhaps in the future,
    Like me you will stand,
    And picture the pleasures
    Of make-believe land.

    Play on, little darlings!
    I join in your play;
    The heart may be youthful
    Though head may be grey.

  9. The Hayloft

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Through all the pleasant meadow-side
    The grass grew shoulder-high,
    Till the shining scythes went far and wide
    And cut it down to dry.

    Those green and sweetly smelling crops
    They led in waggons home;
    And they piled them here in mountain tops
    For mountaineers to roam.

    Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail,
    Mount Eagle and Mount High;—
    The mice that in these mountains dwell,
    No happier are than I!

    Oh, what a joy to clamber there,
    Oh, what a place for play,
    With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
    The happy hills of hay!

  10. The Lamplight Camp

    by Madison Cawein

    Whenever on the windowpane
    I hear the fingers of the rain,
    And in the old trees, near the door,
    The wind that whispers more and more,
    Bright in the light made by the lamp
    I make myself a hunter's camp.

    The shadows of the desk and chairs
    Are trees and woods; the corners, lairs
    Where wolves and wildcats lie in wait
    For any one who walks too late;
    Upon my knees with my toy-gun
    I hunt and slaughter many a one.

    And now I rescue Riding Hood
    From the great Wolf within the wood;
    Now little Silver Locks, who flies
    From the Three Bears with angry eyes;
    And many a little girl who dwells
    In story books, as mother tells.

    So up and down and all around
    My wildwood camp I prowl or bound,
    From corner unto corner till
    I reach the door and windowsill,
    Where Jack-o'-Lantern hides, I know,
    Outside the lamplight's steady glow.

    And he, the goblin-fiend, — my nurse
    Once scared me with, when I was worse
    Than naughty; would not go to sleep,
    But keep awake; and cry and creep
    Out of my bed, — the goblin black,
    The foul fiend, Flibberty-Jibberty Jack.

    And when I think perhaps that these
    May catch me, on my father's knees
    I climb and listen to the rain
    And wind outside the windowpane,
    And feel so safe with him that I
    Go right to sleep, and never cry.

  11. The Sailor

    by Abbie Farwell Brown

    Little girl, O little girl,
    Where did you sail to-day?
    The greeny grass is all about;
    I cannot see the bay.

    "The greeny grass is water, sir;
    I'm sailing on the sea,
    I'm tacking to the Island there
    Beneath the apple tree.

    "You ought to come aboard my boat,
    Or you will soon be drowned!
    You're standing in the ocean, sir,
    That billows all around!"

    Little girl, O little girl,
    And must I pay a fare?
    "A penny to the apple tree,
    A penny back from there.

    "A penny for a passenger,
    But sailors voyage free;
    O, will you be a sailor, sir,
    And hold the sheet for me?"

  12. The Unseen Playmate

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    When children are playing alone on the green,
    In comes the playmate that never was seen.
    When children are happy and lonely and good,
    The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.

    Nobody heard him and nobody saw,
    His is a picture you never could draw,
    But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home,
    When children are happy and playing alone.

    He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass,
    He sings when you tinkle the musical glass;
    Whene'er you are happy and cannot tell why,
    The Friend of the Children is sure to be by!

    He loves to be little, he hates to be big,
    'Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig;
    'Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin
    That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win.

    'Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed,
    Bids you go to your sleep and not trouble your head;
    For wherever they're lying, in cupboard or shelf,
    'Tis he will take care of your playthings himself!

  13. Pirate Story

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
    Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.
    Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
    And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.

    Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
    Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
    Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
    To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?

    Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea—
    Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
    Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
    The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.

  14. Autumn

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    Dick and Will and Charles and I
    Were playing it was election day,
    And I was running for president,
    And Dick was a band that was going to play,

    And Charles and Will were a street parade,
    But Clarence came and said that he
    Was going to run for president,
    And I could run for school-trustee.

    He made some flags for Charles and Will
    And a badge to go on Dickie's coat.
    He stood some cornstalks by the fence
    And had them for the men that vote.

    Then he climbed on a box and made a speech
    To the cornstalk men that were in a row
    It was all about the dem-o-crats,
    And "I de-fy any man to show."

    And "I de-fy any man to say."
    And all about "It's a big disgrace."
    He spoke his speech out very loud
    And shook his fist in a cornstalk's face.

  15. For a Child's Book

    by Annette Wynne

    My book is such a dainty thing—
    Its pretty pages fluttering
    Are wings of white—my book would fly
    Out through the window, past the sky.

    But, little book, don't fly away,
    I'll keep you carefully each day;
    And every night upon my shelf
    You'll have a nest all to yourself.

  16. A Good Play

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    We built a ship upon the stairs
    All made of the back-bedroom chairs,
    And filled it full of sofa pillows
    To go a-sailing on the billows.

    We took a saw and several nails,
    And water in the nursery pails;
    And Tom said, "Let us also take
    An apple and a slice of cake;"—
    Which was enough for Tom and me
    To go a-sailing on, till tea.

    We sailed along for days and days
    And had the very best of plays;
    But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
    So there was no one left but me.

  17. Land of School

    by Annette Wynne

    The Land of School has desks and books,
    But has no fences, hills, and brooks;
    The children live there every day
    Even when they'd rather play;
    But the teacher, quite content,
    Is the king or president.

  18. My Book

    by Annette Wynne

    A little gate my book can be
    That leads to fields of minstrelsy,
    And though you think I sit at home
    Afar in foreign fields I roam.

  19. Lions Running Over the Green

    by Annette Wynne

    Lions running over the green,
    Fiercest of creatures that ever were seen,
    Chasing Tom and Dick and Sue—
    I hope they won't be caught, don't you?

    The lions chase them through the gate,
    But Sue cries out: "O lions, wait,
    My shoe's untied!" One lion then
    Ties the lacing up again.

    And after that the chase goes on
    Until the afternoon is gone—
    The fiercest creatures ever seen,
    Lions running over the green!

  20. Pine Cone

    by Hilda Conkling

    Pine cone is a brown girl
    From Kentucky.
    By a gleaming lake she stands
    Like a lady in front of a mirror
    Admiring her dress.
    I often see her brown curls ruffled out . . .
    I see her dimples . . .
    I hear the grass and the dew play music to her . . .
    But what made me think of her today
    I'll never know.

  21. The Milky Way

    by Hilda Conkling

    Down the highroad of the Milky Way
    We go riding
    On horses made of stars.
    The clouds flit like white butterflies;
    We are dry . . . we do not know it is raining
    Upon earth.
    Roses of opal and pearl
    Sway back and forth in the muisical wind . . .
    Pine trees like emeralds hang . . .
    A pheasant's wing like a fan is spread . . .
    White mountain-peaks gleam . . .
    Purple and silver is the sunrise.
    Quiet lakes shine along the Milky Way
    Like mirrors you hang on cottage walls.
    When I am asleep
    This is what I shall dream.
    Things can never really go,
    They come again and stay.
    When your thoughts are put on beautiful things
    They come alive and stay alive
    In your mind.

  22. Books Are Soldiers

    by Annette Wynne

    Books are soldiers gaily dressed, standing grave and tall,
    Like a halting regiment close against the wall;
    They have marched through many lands, over meadows green,
    Cities great and monuments and rivers they have seen;
    All year long they wait to tell you wondrous things they know
    If you'll only listen;—Soldiers in a row,
    Tell me what you have to tell,
    Of the things you know so well;
    Tell me, soldiers, gaily dressed, standing grave and tall,
    Like a halting regiment, close against the wall.

  23. Fierce Adventures

    by Annette Wynne

    Between the bookcase and the wall
    'Is raised a castle, gray and tall,
    The desk top is a wooden moat,
    The rocking chair's a pirate boat,—
    My little boy, turned six to-day,
    Has fierce adventures in his play.

    My little maid goes venturing, too,
    O bold grim robbers—what a crew!
    She helps to take the gold—but then
    She hurries back to home again
    For she must set the things for tea
    With beautiful house-wifery.

    The table's set upon the floor,
    The pirate marches in,
    And eats and eats and asks for more
    With true piratic din.

    O ye who never knew the life
    Of dragon-hunting, golden strife
    Of pirates on a windy sea
    Returning meekly home for tea;
    Who never heard the black knight's call—
    I fear ye have not lived at all!

  24. More Imagination Poems

  25. To Imagination

    by Emily Brontë

    When weary with the long day's care,
    And earthly change from pain to pain,
    And lost, and ready to despair,
    Thy kind voice calls me back again,
    Oh, my true friend ! I am not lone,
    While thou canst speak with such a tone!

    So hopeless is the world without;
    The world within I doubly prize;
    Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
    And cold suspicion never rise;
    Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
    Have undisputed sovereignty.

    What matters it, that all around
    Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
    If but within our bosom's bound
    We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
    Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
    Of suns that know no winter days?

    Reason, indeed, may oft complain
    For Nature's sad reality,
    And tell the suffering heart how vain
    Its cherished dreams must always be;
    And Truth may rudely trample down
    The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:

    But thou art ever there, to bring
    The hovering vision back, and breathe
    New glories o'er the blighted spring,
    And call a lovelier Life from Death,
    And whisper, with a voice divine,
    Of real worlds, as bright as thine.

    I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
    Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour,
    With never-failing thankfulness,
    I welcome thee, Benignant Power,
    Sure solacer of human cares,
    And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

  26. On Imagination

    by Phillis Wheatley

    Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
    How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp by thee!
    Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand,
    And all attest how potent is thine hand.

    From Helicon's refulgent heights attend,
    Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
    To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
    Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.

    Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
    Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes,
    Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
    And soft captivity involves the mind.

    Imagination! who can sing thy force?
    Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
    Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
    Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God,
    We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
    And leave the rolling universe behind:
    From star to star the mental optics rove,
    Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
    There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
    Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul.

    Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes
    The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;
    The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
    And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands.
    Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
    And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain;
    Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,
    And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd:
    Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
    And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.

    Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain,
    O thou the leader of the mental train:
    In full perfection all thy works are wrought,
    And thine the sceptre o'er the realms of thought.
    Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,
    Of subject-passions sov'reign ruler thou;
    At thy command joy rushes on the heart,
    And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.

    Fancy might now her silken pinions try
    To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high:
    From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise,
    Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
    While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.
    The monarch of the day I might behold,
    And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,
    But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,
    Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;
    Winter austere forbids me to aspire,
    And northern tempests damp the rising fire;
    They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea,
    Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

  27. Coffea Arabica

    by William Henry Venable

    More entrancing than aroma
    From the Hindu sacred soma,
    Comes a fragrant
    Essence vagrant
    Floating up
    From my quaint Zumpango cup,
    Incense rare,
    Evanescent steam ascending,
    Curling, wavering, fading, blending,
    Vanishing in viewless air.
    Let me sip and dream and sing
    Musing many an idle thing,
    Let me sing and dream and sip
    Making many an fancied trip
    Far away and far away
    Over ocean, gulf and bay
    To islands whence the spicy wind
    Breathes languor on the tropic sea,
    To sultry strands of teeming Ind,
    To coasts of torrid Araby,
    To realms no Boreal breath may chill,
    Like rich Brazil,
    Or Jabal's clouded hill on hill,
    Or warm Bulgosa's valley low,
    To zones where Summer splendors glow,
    Where seasons never come or go,
    Where coffee trees perpetual blow.

    While I drowse and dream and sip,
    Sailing, sailing slides a ship
    Over the glittering sea,
    Measuring leagues of night and day,
    Bearing and bringing to me,
    Bringing from far away, away,
    The pale green magical berry,
    The seed of the virtuous cherry,
    The bean of the blossom divine!
    Bringing from over the brine,
    Bringing from Demarara,
    From balsamy San Pará,
    Bringing from Trans-Sahara,
    From hoard of the Grand Bashaw,
    Or redolent chests of Menelek,
    An Abyssinian cargo
    Richer than freight of Argo,
    Treasured in garners under the deck,
    Bringing and bearing for me
    The gift of the coffee tree!
    Better than blood of the Spanish vine,
    Or ruddy or amber wine of the Rhine;
    Bearing the bean of the blessed tree!
    Better than bousa or sake fine,
    Or sampan loads of oolong tea,
    Souchong, twankay, or bohea,—
    Bringing the virtuous bean divine,
    The coffee-tree cherry,
    The magical berry,
    More entrancing than aroma
    From the Hindu sacred soma.

  28. Horse-Chestnut Cottage

    by Hilda Conkling

    Within a green and everlasting covering
    Like a coat of mail
    There lives a little old lady
    In an apartment of several rooms.
    The walls are pink on one side,
    Brown on the other;
    She must be a rich old lady to have wall-coverings
    Of changeable silk finer than spiders' webs!
    Once she got lost.
    I saw her shiny shriveled face
    Look up at me
    From the grass.
    I heard her call and call me
    In a faint and shivering voice
    To come to her quickly,
    Unlock the door for her,
    Help her up the steps
    Into the place she had always known
    Since she began at all. . . .

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