red wellingtons on a grey day

red wellingtons & floral umbrella
The poem I posted on Thor’s Day last week has never been quite what I wanted it to be.

The original notes are for a bullet-point poem with the things children love about rain contrasted with the things that it means to an adult – leaking window frames, wet washing draped everywhere, rising damp and higher prices at the green grocer’s.

It was intended to end up with the (adult) narrator adding a pair of red wellingtons to her shopping list. (As the photo suggests, I’m a great believer in bright boots and umbrellas for grey days.)

When I shook the rain from my brolly yesterday, and stamped the mud from my boots, I was trying to remember the words of a poem I learned as a child. The phrases I remembered were, “New shoes, blue shoes” and “stamp-them-on-the-mat shoes”.

A search on Google has revealed that it was probably the poem Choosing Shoes by Frida (or perhaps Ffrida) Wolfe. I can’t find out anything about her, but the poem is so widely available on the web that I’m copying it here and hoping it is out of copyright. It seems to have been included in children’s poetry anthologies from the Thirties, though I think I might have read it in the Treasure magazine we read in the Sixties.

Choosing Shoes

Frida Wolfe

New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me, what would you choose,
If they’d let us buy?

Buckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let’s have some to try.

Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy-dance-by-night shoes,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes,
Like some? So would I.

BUT
Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Stump-along-like-that shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes,
That’s the sort they’ll buy.

I am amused to see that even horrid school regulation styles have been transformed in my memory into gloriously assertive “stamp-them-on-the-mat shoes”. Maybe I should write a poem entitled the joy of shoes.

(Coincidentally, having mentioned Donovan yesterday, I find he used one of Ffrida Wolfe’s poems on the album HMS Donovan.)

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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