Poetry Friday: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

— Emilie Buchwald


Parents often ask me how they can help their children become readers. I tell them to read to them early and often. There is an extensive research base supporting this advice. (Reach Out & Read and Reading Rockets have thorough summaries.) The National Center for Family Literacy and The Yale Reading Center are just two of the many websites with resources for parents and teachers. And the variety and quality of children’s books being published today is astounding.

Poetry is especially well suited for little ones. They love the rhythm, rhyme and word play found in nursery rhymes and poems. When my boys were little, we all looked forward to our ritual bedtime reading. We had many Mother Goose collections and rhyming books, and this was one of our favorites.


“Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”

by Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night

Sailed off in a wooden shoe–

Sailed on a river of crystal light,

Into a sea of dew.

“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”

The old moon asked of the three.

“We have come to fish for the herring fish

That live in this beautiful sea;

Nets of silver and gold have we!”

Said Wynken,


And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,

As they rocked in the wooden shoe,

And the wind that sped them all night long

Ruffled the waves of dew.

The little stars were the herring fish

That lived in that beautiful sea–

“Now cast your nets wherever you wish–

Never afeard are we!”

So cried the stars to the fishermen three:



And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw

To the stars in the twinkling foam–

Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,

Bringing the fishermen home;

‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed

As if it could not be,

And some folks thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed

Of sailing that beautiful sea—

But I shall name you the fisherman three:



And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,

And Nod is a little head,

And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies

Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.

So shut your eyes while mother sings

Of wonderful sights that be,

And you shall see the beautiful things

As you rock in the misty sea,

Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:



And Nod.

 illustration by David McPhail, from ''Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,'
Illustration by David McPhail, from ”Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”

Be sure to visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem… for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

  1. Read early and often. Yes. And not just to create readers… what a great way to share the world with wee ones! (We did this with our three and not one particularly loves to read… but they do love stories and the youngest -13- still loves to be read to. What special times!) Thanks for the reminder of Wynken Blynken and Nod. Been a while since I read that one.


  2. It’s so beautiful, Catherine, a real favorite at our house. My daughter could recite it; I wonder if she remembers it now? I wish we could convince everyone that reading is that important. Families are so busy that they run out of time just to relax & read. Thanks for writing about this.


  3. I remember that one! I am a big believer on reading aloud early and often. We started reading to our kids when they were newborns. It’s one of the greatest pleasures of parenthood!


  4. Aww, this used to be one of my favourites. I love Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. Reminded me of a lot of beautiful childhood memories. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂


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