Sunday, November 10, 2013

J Haughey’s 1923 NZ children’s cricket poem

I haven’t found many New Zealand children’s poems and stories on cricket. A past post includes a children’s cricket poem by Noeline Gannaway, an adult, which I photocopied and gave to my nephew for Christmas 2010.
Recently, when researching the Christchurch Star newspaper for the journal broadsheet, I came across a poem by a ‘Master J Haughey’. The poem came second in the Star’s children’s poem competition, 14 December 1923.
It’s evocative of life on the farm for children growing up in rural parts of New Zealand as well as showing the importance of cricket in their lives. There’s a similar poem to this in A Tingling Catch in a section called ‘Boys’ Songs’ by the adult Tom Bracken (also author of the New Zealand National Anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’) called ‘Bush Children’ from Not Understood and Other Poems (Wellington: Gordon & Gotch, 1909).
Bracken similarly views cricket as a worthwhile pastime for children:

‘Willie, give the lads a call,
We must have a game of cricket;
Jack and you can stop the ball,
I will stand to guard the wicket.’
Play your game, ye merry crew,
Now’s the time for recreation,
By-an-bye there’s work to do,
You have yet to build a nation.

J Haughey’s verses form a lovely poem worth sharing here. I’m sure many cricketers old or young can relate to the child’s joy at playing cricket after schoolwork and farm work has been done.


The Boys Out on the Farm

I rise up in the morning,
Soon after break of day;
Then off right down the paddock,
For the cows are far away.

To get them to the cow-shed
It takes some little time:
Then milking starts in earnest,
For school work starts at nine.

My four cows are the quietest,
There’s Brindle and old Bess,
And Snowball too, and Judy
Are soon milked with the rest.

The milking now is finished,
And the morning’s nice and cool.
Now for breakfast and our school bags
And off we go to school.

The schoolwork that we’re doing,
Seems always just the same.
I like, when it comes playtime,
To go and have a game.

And home again at four o’clock
To start the evening run;
For, after milking’s finished,
We’re going to have some fun.

Then in the evening twilight,
When all is still and calm,
The fun we have with bat and ball,
The boys out on the farm.

Poem © J Haughey 1924

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

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