precocious reader’ when I was seven years old. Although being a selective mute was a problem, I was able to read almost anything. As my Grade Two year was nearing completion, I had begun to look forward to being a Grade Three student, especially as I loved the Grade Three Reader.
A poem included in that book was ‘Little Boy
Blue’ - not the one about the boy who ‘blows a horn’, but a poem written by the American poet Eugene
Here it is:
LITTLE BOY BLUE
The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new
And the soldier was passing fair,
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.
"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So toddling off to his trundle-bed
He dreamed of the pretty toys.
And as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue,--
Oh, the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true.
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place,
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face.
And they wonder, as waiting these long years through,
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue
Since he kissed them and put them there.
I had read the poem so often via my older sister’s book or whenever I could get my hands on a copy of the Grade Three Reader, that I almost knew it off by heart. I loved the poem more than any other poem or story I had ever read.
It made me cry but it also made my heart sing at the thought of the angels.
My Grade Two year ended and I was soon to be in the presence of Little Boy Blue and able to possess my own copy of the Reader that held the words.
What a shock then, to be told that ‘the powers that be’ at my school had decided to accelerate me from Grade Two to Grade Four.
No Grade Three for me.
And no Little Boy Blue. I cried for myself as well.