Poetry Friday: David McCord

Children’s poet David McCord was born on November 15 (or December 15 or 17), 1897 in New York City. (Most internet sources say December 15th or just 1897.) He grew up in New Jersey and Oregon, and went to school at Harvard, where he later worked as a fundraiser for the Harvard College Fund.

He once said about writing poetry for children:

“Whatever may be said about this small but graceful art, three things should be remembered: good poems for children are never trivial; they are never written without the characteristic chills and fever of a dedicated man at work; they must never bear the stigma of I am adult, you are a child.”

“McCord said he developed a love of words and a fine sense of rhythm from reading aloud the Bible to his elderly grandmother.” (Obituary, Harvard Gazette, April 17, 1997)

This poem is the one by Mr. McCord I remember reading over and over again until I practically had it memorized. I used to read my library books while perched in the mulberry tree next to my house, so I suppose this poem was something close to my own experience.

51VY32VQ2hL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Every time I climb a tree
Every time I climb a tree
Every time I climb a tree
I scrape a leg
Or skin a knee
And every time I climb a tree
I find some ants
Or dodge a bee
And get the ants
All over me.

And every time I climb a tree
Where have you been?
They say to me
But don’t they know that I am free
Every time I climb a tree?

I like it best
To spot a nest
That has an egg
Or maybe three.

And then I skin
The other leg
But every time I climb a tree
I see a lot of things to see
Swallows rooftops and TV
And all the fields and farms there be
Every time I climb a tree
Though climbing may be good for ants
It isn’t awfully good for pants
But still it’s pretty good for me
Every time I climb a tree

Lee Bennett Hopkins discusses David McCord and his poetry.

Poetry Friday Roundup this week is at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. I can’t think of a more poetical place to visit on a crisp November day.