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A Song About Myself


There was a naughty boy,  A naughty boy was he,

He would not stop at home,  He could not quiet be-    He took    In his knapsack    A book    Full of vowels    And a shirt    With some towels,    A slight cap    For night cap,    A hair brush,    Comb ditto,    New stockings    For old ones    Would split O!    This knapsack    Tight at's back    He rivetted close  And followed his nose    To the north,    To the north,  And follow'd his nose    To the north.


There was a naughty boy  And a naughty boy was he,

For nothing would he do  But scribble poetry-    He took    An ink stand    In his hand    And a pen    Big as ten    In the other,    And away    In a pother    He ran    To the mountains    And fountains    And ghostes    And postes    And witches    And ditches    And wrote    In his coat    When the weather    Was cool,    Fear of gout,    And without    When the weather    Was warm-    Och the charm    When we choose  To follow one's nose    To the north,    To the north,  To follow one's nose    To the north!


There was a naughty boy  And a naughty boy was he,

He kept little fishes  In washing tubs three    In spite    Of the might    Of the maid    Nor afraid    Of his Granny-good-    He often would    Hurly burly    Get up early    And go    By hook or crook    To the brook    And bring home    Miller's thumb,    Tittlebat    Not over fat,    Minnows small    As the stall    Of a glove,    Not above    The size    Of a nice    Little baby's    Little fingers-    O he made    'Twas his trade  Of fish a pretty kettle    A kettle-    A kettle  Of fish a pretty kettle    A kettle!


There was a naughty boy,  And a naughty boy was he,

He ran away to Scotland  The people for to see-    There he found    That the ground    Was as hard,    That a yard    Was as long,    That a song    Was as merry,    That a cherry    Was as red,    That lead    Was as weighty,    That fourscore    Was as eighty,    That a door    Was as wooden    As in England-  So he stood in his shoes    And he wonder'd,    He wonder'd,  He stood in his    Shoes and he wonder'd.'In a letter to his sister,

Keats makes a fresh start with -- "since I scribbled the Song we have walked through a beautiful Country to Kirkcudbright -- at which place I will write you a song about myself." He then proceeds with the very curious piece of doggerel now first given from the manuscript, and excuses himself on the plea of fatigue. My chief purpose in including these verses here is that students may note the variety of the pieces of this class addressed to different correspondents.

Compare this with the Devon pieces sent to Haydon, and more particularly with The Gadfly, sent to Tom Keats a little later than this.

I presume this piece should be dated the 3rd of July 1818.(stanza 2):

This is a genuine autobiographic reminiscence of the time when the young Keatses lived with their grandmother after the death of their parents.(stanza 4):

There is an under-current of dissatisfaction with things Caledonian in this fourth stanza; and indeed I do not think Keats ever got entirely rid of this during the whole of the tour, albeit he enjoyed many transient visitations of true enthusiasm inspired both by fine scenery and by associations.~ Poetical Works of John Keats, ed.


Buxton Forman,

Crowell publ. 1895.


John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English Romantic poet, one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along wit…

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