Friday, March 28, 2014

March 2014 Winners - Lullabies

It isn't only mothers who cherish and sing to babies. Grandparents do, too!
Photo used by permission.

Multiple Judges

The Oregon Poetry Association has one category in its fall contests with “dueling judges.” There are two judges and potentially two sets of winners. This month there were three “dueling judges” – Barb, Kayla and Jenny, all mothers of little ones. Each one selected a different first place winner. That just goes to show that our response to poetry is subjective. But then we have different tastes in music, favor different brownie recipes, and select different movies to watch multiple times, so it isn’t surprising that different people prefer different poems.

The poem picked as first place by Kayla was given second place by the other two judges, so it is first place over-all.

Summer Slumber

Sweet little baby
Underneath the tree
Lying on a blanket soft
Cuddled up with me

A soft wind whispers
Sleep, baby sleep
It’s time to close your eyes
The afternoon will keep

Garden chimes ring sweetly
A bird wings overhead
The dappled sun will warm you
Like covers for your bed

Dream my little sweet one
Gently close your eyes
As white fluffy cloud sheep
Graze across the sky

Honey bees are droning
Their soft summer song
Cheerful crickets rubbing wings
Their music plays along

And now you sleep my little one
Your lash against your cheek
Smile, dream on, and when you wake
This world is yours to keep

~ Mary Cohutt

Jenny, who gave this poem second place commented, “This is the one I might like to sing most to my own baby.  I would like to have a refrain or something to return to, but the words are both specific and general enough to work for most any mother singing to her child.  Nice evocative language for setting the scene of a warm summer afternoon.”

Barb selected the following lullaby poem as first place. She said, “It's simple and seems like a lullaby.”


Your eyes are blue of the evening sky
twinkling as the brightest stars.

Your ears are shells on the tide-swept beach
echoing the murmur of the ocean.

Your cheeks are glowing pastels
of a summer sunrise.

Your lips are buds of a pale pink rose
glistening with morning dew.

The crown of your head is a downy peach
perfumed with sweet cream.

You suckle my breast in greedy gulps
while fondling my gown with delicate fingers
as your eyes gaze into my own.

While the whole world sleeps
we share these treasured moments
in timeless bliss.

~ Susan Hanford

First place selected by Jenny is the following:

Isabella’s Lullaby

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep,
and don’t you cry anymore
for all around are people who love you.
Cloudless is the sky above you.
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep,
and don’t you cry anymore.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep,
though your world has turned upside down,
your mother and father no longer together,
a chill in the air, despite the hot weather.
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep,
though your world has turned upside down.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep,
you sweet little niece of mine.
If only I could protect and hold you,
let my loving arms enfold you.
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep,
you sweet little niece of mine.

Dream. Dream. Dream
of brighter days to come.
Your daddy has found himself a new love,
and she’s become someone that you love.
Dream. Dream. Dream
of brighter days to come.

~ Abbie Johnson Taylor

Jenny said, “It's a darker take on a traditional lullaby, but feels both very contemporary and has a nice lilting quality with the refrain (Sleep, sleep, sleep) at the beginning of each verse.  For me, it works the best for being set to music.”

Jenny selected the following poem for third place:

Serenade for My Goddaughter, Kimberly Ann Eversole

            The last moon shines a cradle tune,
            And who will croon it?
                        Miguel de Unamuno, “Song for Grandchild”

Kept warm you sleep your first sleep
As day slumbers out of night,
Ever earlier falls under
                                    the November evening.

Keynote, the moon’s last quarter rises,
A cradle loaded with darkness
Edged with gold, pouring lullabies
                                    into our evening.

Kindled a kaleidoscope sky flicks on stars
A dark mine in Africa reflecting its diamonds.
Even that distant, your presence grows
                                    part of our evening.    
~ Diane Kendig
Diane says this poem was written a decade ago when Kimberly was born. “It is both a serenade (a form where every stanza ends with the word "evening") and an acrostic on her [initials]. It also has a pun on her name, "Kimberly," the place in South Africa where diamonds are mined. It is also inspired by Unamuno's lullaby to his first grandchild. (The translation of his lines is mine.)”

Jenny liked the poem because of its creative imagery. She said it “could be set to music, though it trips up the tongue a bit.”


About the Winning Poets:

Mary Cohutt who lives in Western Massachusetts, has two adult children and two grandchildren. She earned a paralegal degree as an older adult and now work as a Leasing Consultant. She also has a business of her own called "The Good Daughter."  She reviews paperwork and handles daily financial concerns of elderly people. She says, “Nothing pleases me more than being out in nature except perhaps being out in nature with a good book!”

Susan Hanford lives in Geneseo, Illinois and teaches math at East Moline Christian School.  She is a member of Quint City Poets and Rockford Writers Guild and enjoys writing poetry, composing music, and playing the French horn.  Her two sons are now grown, married, and living in Seattle, WA and Berkeley, CA area, and she is looking forward to the birth of her first grandchild in July.

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of a novel, We Shall Overcome, and a poetry collection, How To Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Her chapbook, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, will be published by Finishing Line Press this summer. Her work has appeared in Distant Horizons and Sensations Magazine. She is visually impaired and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her late husband, totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit her Website at

Diane Kendig has worked as a poet, writer, translator and teacher for 40 years and authored four poetry collections, including The Places We Find Ourselves. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships, she has published most recently in J Journal, Wordgathering, About Place, and qarrtsiluni. She’s on the web at and blogging at

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 2014 Challenge: A Lullaby Poem

The one lullaby I remember begging my mother to sing is “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,” (also spelled “Tura Lura Lural”) a song in which the adult is longing to hear his mother sing it to him again. Here is one version of the first verse and chorus”


Over In Killarney,
Many years ago,
My Mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low;
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And I'd give the world to hear her sing
That song of hers today.

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Hush now don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, That's an Irish lul-la-by

According to Wikipedia, this song was written in 1914 by composer James Royce Shannon (1881–1946) and popularised by Bing Crosby in 1944's movie, Going My Way.

Here is a lullaby poem by Eugene Field:

Japanese Lullaby

Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings, —
Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes;
Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging—
Swinging the nest where her little one lies.

Away out yonder I see a star, —
Silvery star with a tinkling song;
To the soft dew falling I hear it calling—
Calling and tinkling the night along.

In through the window a moonbeam comes, —
Little gold moonbeam with misty wings;
All silently creeping, it asks, "Is he sleeping—
Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?"

Up from the sea there floats the sob
Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore,
As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning—
Bemoaning the ship that shall come no more.

But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings, —
Little blue pigeon with mournful eyes;
Am I not singing? —see, I am swinging—
Swinging the nest where my darling lies.

~ Eugene Field

Thanks to Jayne Jaudon Ferrer at for bringing this poem to my attention. If you subscribe to, you will find a poem in your email box every day.

You can find the lyrics of a number of lullabies (and songs used as lullabies) at

If my memory is correct, I learned “Lullaby and Good Night,” “Sleep, Baby Sleep”
and “All Through the Night” in elementary school. Or maybe I heard my mother and/or grandmother sing them to younger siblings and cousins. At any rate, they are all favorites of mine.

To my grandchildren, I sang such lullabies and songs as “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “All Through the Night,” “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Kumbayah.”

The March 2014 Poetry Challenge:

The challenge for March is to write either the words for a lullaby. Songs such as “Kumbayah,”  “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,”  “You Are My Sunshine” and “Don’t Fence Me In,” though used as lullabies belong to other categories. For purposes of this challenge, the song must mention either the baby (preferably encouraging sleep) or the parent singing to the baby.

Submit only one poem. The deadline is March 15. Poems submitted after the March 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards, however winners are published on this blog.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

The judges for this month will be young parents.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”. Be sure to provide your e-mail address. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name, exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win, at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold, and not all in capital letters; your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces. Please include a short bio with your submission.

And Remember: The January challenge is still open, and will be until there are a few more submissions.