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Thread: Looking for origins of poem

  1. #1

    Question Looking for origins of poem

    Hi everyone. I happened upon your forum while searching for the origins of a poem I found in some artifacts at the small museum where I work. I was hoping I could get some input from you.

    A little background: I have been involved in cataloging our huge backlog of artifacts, and in the process found an original handwritten script for a play. We think the play was written sometime around 1900, and was most likely an amateur work. The donor of the script has no idea who wrote it, or when. It was simply given by him to us in a box of family artifacts that he though might generate some interest... boy was he right! The only clue we have about the author are the initials G.A. The play is titled "A Little Study in Scheming". We are hoping to have the play performed on our museum grounds as a bit of outdoor theatre as a fundraiser, but we would like to find out a little more history on the play if possible.

    That leads me to the question of the poem. The poem is contained within the play. The play provides no context as to time period, but we might be able to use the poem to give us some clues. For all we know the poem may be written by the playwrite him/herself. I thought if you folks could read it and give any input that crosses your mind I would be very grateful.

    As far as the context of the poem within the play: The poem is being recited by the servant of a fairly well of household. The man of the house was injured when his barn collapsed after being tricked by his daughter who was smitten over a young man. She has since married the young man without her father's blessing, and the father is now lamenting this fact, and that he has since found out the young man is heir to a small fortune (in which case the father would have indeed approved of the match). The servant recites this poem trying to show the father can be redeemed.

    Untitiled Poem found in play by G.A.

    There was once a rabbit with silver fur
    Her little grey neighbors looked up at her
    ‘Till she thought with pride in the moonlit wood
    The reason I’m white is because I’m good

    Oh what shal
    (sic) I do! cried a tiny mole
    A fairy has stumbled into a hole
    It is full of water and crawly things
    And she can’t get out for she’s hurt her wings
    I did my best to catch hold of her hair
    But my arms are short and she’s still in there
    Oh darling white rabbit your arms are long
    You say your good and I know you’re strong

    Don’t tell me about it! The rabbit said
    She shut up her eyes and her ears grew red
    There’s lots of mud and it’s sure to stick
    Because my fur is so long and thick

    There’s plenty of water the wee mole cried
    There are shining rivers from moorlands wide
    Dews from the sky and the dear grey rain
    And the fairy to kiss you clean again

    Oh dear! Oh dear! sobbed the poor little mole
    Who will help the fairy out of the hole
    A common grey rabbit popped from the [--orse]
    (illegible)
    I’m not very strong but I’ll try of course

    His little tail bobbed as he waded in
    The muddy water came up to his chin
    But he caught the fairy tight by the hand
    And sent her off safe into fairy land

    But she kissed him first on his muddy nose
    She kissed his face and his little wet toes
    And when the day dawned with the early light
    The dirty grey rabbit was shining white


    Again, any input is most welcome. Have any of you heard the poem before? Does it strike you as familiar in anyway?

    I look forward to reading any responses!

  2. #2
    Moderator Logos's Avatar
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    I did a few searches for you but nothing is coming up, but I wish you good luck in your search
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  3. #3
    Thanks for looking! I have a feeling that the origins of this play are lost to history. Though I suspect that the author was local to us and was most likely writing under a pseudonym (if you can consider initials a pseudonym). Even though our little town was a rough and tumble place, it was home to a great many wordsmiths, any of whom could have penned this play. Amazing the literary gems that never see the light of day!

  4. #4
    rat in a strange garret Whifflingpin's Avatar
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    I was going to write that it sounds like amateur doggerel, but the more I read it, the better it got. If Browning had wrtten verse for children (Doh, he did, of course - it was Pied Piper I was thinking of) he might have penned this.


    The missing word must surely be "gorse." I don't know if that's a common word in US English, but it is widely used in England (South, I think more than North, where they use "furze" or "whin") to refer to the spiky variety of broom that is very common in all wild and waste places.
    Voices mysterious far and near,
    Sound of the wind and sound of the sea,
    Are calling and whispering in my ear,
    Whifflingpin! Why stayest thou here?

  5. #5
    Thanks for that clue, Whifflingpin! I have never heard the word "gorse" before... but it is very likely that the author had. The artifacts surrounding this play/poem belonged to an Irish family... would this word have been used in Ireland as well? I am starting to suspect that either the head of this family (who was also the editor of the local paper 1885-19XX) or one of his relatives wrote this. Unfortunately there is nothing conclusive, but in this case I believe the mystery and these tantalizing little clues are all the fun!

  6. #6
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    What a strange coincidence! My Mum used to recite this poem to us when we were young, and just on a whim, I thought I'd try to find it on Google - this forum was the only hit that was returned! (I've registered, just to post this reply!)

    I'm sure Mum learned this poem as a child in Sheffield UK, perhaps around the 1930s? I shall ask her if she knows the origins, or even anything about the play.

    Good luck!

    Terry

  7. #7
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    I found a reference to it here:-

    http://www.google.com/search?q=cache...k&ct=clnk&cd=2.

    I believe this school is in Australia? Well travelled little poem, isn't it!
    Last edited by seahornet; 01-31-2006 at 10:22 AM. Reason: Better link

  8. #8

    Talking

    Wow! Thank-you Terry! If you find out anything about the poem's origins please let me know... that's awesome. Thank you for the link as well. It's great to have a source separate from the one I have to show that this poem was out there at some time!

    I just emailed my curator with that info. I'm seriously giddy over this!
    Last edited by [email protected]; 01-31-2006 at 11:05 AM. Reason: fixed typ-os

  9. #9
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    Hi Erin, I spoke to my mum about this, but not a lot more to add, I'm afraid. She learned it at Manor Junior School in Sheffield, in about 1934-5, aged about 9 or 10. It would have been copied off the blackboard, so she doesn't know whether it came from a textbook, or whether the teacher wrote it down from memory. There was no mention of a play associated with the poem, it was just a stand alone piece of verse.

    You know, my Mum was seriously giddy about it too. It's the first time she's ever heard of this poem since the day she learned it. She said it was like meeting an old friend that she hadn't seen for seventy years. Many thanks for that!

    Terry

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    I have found this poem, 'Who'll help a Fairy', here - http://faeriefae.50megs.com/who_will_help_a_fairy.htm - credited to Charlotte Druit Cole. (References to this lady elsewhere show her middle name as 'Druitt'.)

    Charlotte Druitt Cole's work appears in a number of children's anthologies in the early part of the 20th century, though I can't find another reference to this particular poem. Does anyone have any more information on her life and work?

    Best Wishes,

    Terry

  11. #11
    Awesome find, Terry! Sorry it's taken me awhile to respond... I've been slightly off the grid lately.

    I'll poke around some more about Charlotte Druitt Cole and see what I can come up with. I'll let you know if I find anything!

    That's really cool about your mother and the poem.... put a big smile on my face!

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    I've been following this thread since it started. I'm really glad to see you've tracked it down at last Erin (or have you?). It's been like a real life Agatha Christie.

    I wonder if anyone might come up with the identity of G. A. next.

  13. #13
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    Unfortunately there is no mention of "Charlotte Druitt Cole" or "Who'll help a Fairy" in either the American or Oxford Dictionaries of National biography databases for people or articles, but I have a few other ideas
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  14. #14

    Lightbulb A lead on Charlotte Druitt

    Ah yes, the mysterious G.A. If he's lurking somewhere in our collection here, I haven't found him/her yet. If somone out there knows G.A.... well, That would be awesome. Though as it stands right now, I'm having a load of fun just picking at this mystery . I have to be careful though and not let my actual collections work slide... but it's so easy when there's a minor mystery to solve!

    I might have found our Charlotte Druitt Cole.

    It appears that Charlotte Druitt is the daughter of solicitor James Druitt from his second marriage. She was born on January 13, 1878, the youngest of 15 children (from two marriages). Charlotte's older brother, Herbert, was an active citizen in the town of Christchurch and was particularily interested in their archives. It was his wish that the town have a library, art gallery, and museum. Herbert accumulated a large estate, which was left to his sister, Charlotte, who passed away a short number of years later. The estate was left to the town, according to Herbert's wishes, and now makes up the Druitt Gardens, as well as the local library. As well, Herbert opened a local museum which still runs today under the name Red House Museum. (This somewhat echoes the history of the Cultural Centre I work at here in Minden, Ontario... and I would imagine many other like establishments).

    Charlotte seems to have been a fairly prolific poet, but largely unknown. She lived until shortly after 1943 and in that time contributed to a number of poetry compilations including "The Bairn's Budget", "A Song of the Green Lady", and "The Red Clover Story Book"... it seems intended for educational purposes. The University of Leeds has a Libretto for Robin Goodfellow written by her in 1939 as part of their James Clifford Brown collection. Her poems seem to be primarily occupied with fairies. She may have been married to a Joseph Schroeder Cole around 1907.

    Surprisingly my search also took me to a Jack the Ripper message board. Turns out Charlotte Druitt was a cousin of Montague Druitt, the prime suspect in the Ripper murders who committed suicide in 1888.

    Anyway, I'm not sure exactly how accurate the above is because it is pieced together from a large number of sources in which she is only mentioned sporadically at best... but it does make for an intriguing start. I'm going to see if I can track down some of those books, and contact the Red House Museum for more information.

    Here are the websites I visited:

    http://casebook.org/forum/messages/4922/7809.html - The Jack the Ripper Connection, includes Druitt genealogy
    http://www.dorsetlife.co.uk/articles...ail.asp?ID=170 - The Incredible Druitts
    http://www.dorsetlife.co.uk/articles...ail.asp?ID=428 - James Druitt on Wimborne Grammar School and his life
    http://www.hants.gov.uk/museum/redhouse/ - The Red House Museum
    http://www.leeds.ac.uk/library/spcol...S1707Brown.pdf - The James Brown Collection at Leeds
    http://www.prattens.co.uk/families/COLE/text.txt - The Cole connection

    UPDATE: -- turns out this is just a neat little piece of fiction... Charlotte Druitt and Charlotte Druit Cole are two entirely different people. See post farther down. Ah well.
    Last edited by [email protected]; 02-13-2006 at 03:09 PM. Reason: update because of research errors

  15. #15
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    Hey there - I too have "googled" the tiny mole poem and this is the only link it came up with thats any good.

    I remember my grandmother telling me the tiny mole poem when i was much much younger. And funnily enough we are from Doncaster not far from Sheffield in the UK.

    The illegible word in the poem i believe to be gorse

    gorse
    n : very spiny and dense evergreen shrub with fragrant golden-yellow flowers; common throughout western Europe [syn: furze, whin, Irish gorse, Ulex europaeus]
    from dictionary.com

    But i was glad to read that there are other "verses" in the poem.

    Sadly my grandmother passed away a good few years ago now but I'm glad I've found this poem on here. Thankyou x

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