Painting by Maxfield Parrish
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (Dutch Lullaby)
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 the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
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:
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;
‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ‘t was a dream they ‘d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea—
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
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:
–by Eugene Field (1850-1895)
Eugene Field, Sr. was an American writer best known for his children’s poetry and humorous essays. Much of his employment included stints writing for various city newspapers; he first started publishing poetry in 1879 when his book Christian Treasures appeared. Over a dozen more volumes followed and Field’s reputation for creating light-hearted poems for children grew. “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” is perhaps the most well-known.
Several of Field’s poems have been set to music with commercial success. Additionally many of his works have been illustrated by a range of various artists including a favorite of mine, American painter and illustrator, Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). Eugene Field has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame and numerous elementary schools throughout the Midwest are named for him.
This poem “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” has also inspired two statues created in its honor. One of these is in Denver, CO and the other in the town of Wellsboro, PA. Information about the statues and who created them and why can be found on the following webpage: