Biography of Eugene Field
Eugene Field, Sr. was an American writer, best known for his children's poetry and humorous essays.
Field was an unusual poet. He was one of the few poets who wrote only children's poetry. That is how he got his nickname, The Children's Poet.
It all started September 2, 1850, at 634 South Broadway in Saint Louis. That's where and when Eugene Field was born. He had one brother named Roswell, who was one year younger than he, and a sister who died soon after her birth. He and his brother were very close, but very different. Eugene took after their mother, Francis, while Roswell took after their father. Eugene was afraid of the dark while his brother wasn't afraid of anything. Eugene hated studying while Roswell loved it. When the boys were six and five, their mother died. Mr. Field sent them to live with their cousin, Mary French, in Massachusetts until he could take care of them. While living on their cousin's farm, Eugene wrote his first poem . He was nine then, and the poem was about their cousin's dog, Fido.
At the age of fifteen, Eugene was shipped off to a small private school in Massachusetts. There were only five boys in the school, and Eugene loved leading the boys in tricks against the master of the school.
Eugene went on to William's College in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, his father died when he was nineteen and he dropped out after eight months. Next he went to Knox College but dropped out of college after a year. Then he went to the University of Missouri, where his brother was also attending. While there, he met Julia Comstock, who was fourteen. When Julia turned sixteen, she and Eugene married. They had eight children. Two died as babies, another died as a little boy. The remaining five grew up and had long lives.
While married, Eugene had many jobs. He worked for many newspapers until the Chicago Daily News offered him a job. He wrote a humorous column called "Sharps and Flats". His home in Chicago was near the intersection of N. Clarendon and W. Hutchinson in the neighborhood now known as Buena Park.
He first started publishing poetry in 1879, when his poem "Christmas Treasures" appeared in A Little Book of Western Verse. Over a dozen volumes of poetry followed and he became well known for his light-hearted poems for children, perhaps the most famous of which is "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." Field also published a number of short stories, including "The Holy Cross" and "Daniel and the Devil."
Field died in Chicago of a heart attack at the age of 45. He is buried at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois. His 1901 biography by S. Thompson states that he was originally buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, but his son-in-law, Senior Warden of the Church of the Holy Comforter, had him reinterred on March 7, 1926
Several of his poems were set to music with commercial success. Many of his works were accompanied by paintings from Maxfield Parrish. His former home in St. Louis is now a museum.A memorial to him, a statue of the "Dream Lady" from his poem "Rock-a-by-Lady", was erected in 1922 at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. There is also a park and fieldhouse named in his honor in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. A statue of Wynken, Blynken and Nod adorns Washington Park, near Field's Denver home. In nearby Oak Park, Illinois, another park is named in his his honour.
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Eugene Field Poems
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.
Wynken, Blynken, And Nod
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night Sailed off in a wooden shoe,-- Sailed on a river of crystal light Into a sea of dew.
The gingham dog and the calico cat Side by side on the table sat; 'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!) Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
Jest 'Fore Christmas
Father calls me William, sister calls me Will, Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill! Mighty glad I ain't a girl - ruther be a boy, Without them sashes, curls, an' things that's worn by Fauntleroy!
On afternoons, when baby boy has had a splendid nap, And sits, like any monarch on his throne, in nurse's lap, In some such wise my handkerchief I hold before my face, And cautiously and quietly I move about the place;
Apple-Pie And Cheese
Full many a sinful notion Conceived of foreign powers Has come across the ocean To harm this land of ours;
The sky is dark and the hills are white As the storm-king speeds from the north to-night, And this is the song the storm-king sings, As over the world his cloak he flings:
The Sugar-Plum Tree
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree? 'T is a marvel of great renown! It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
A Drinking Song
Come, brothers, share the fellowship We celebrate to-night; There's grace of song on every lip And every heart is light!
Soldier, Maiden, And Flower
'Sweetheart, take this,' a soldier said, 'And bid me brave good-by; It may befall we ne'er shall wed, But love can never die.
Go, Cupid, and my sweetheart tell I love her well. Yes, though she tramples on my heart And rends that bleeding thing apart;
Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,-- Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes; Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging-- Swinging the nest where her little one lies.
Our Biggest Fish
When in the halcyon days of old, I was a little tyke, I used to fish in pickerel ponds for minnows and the like; And oh, the bitter sadness with which my soul was fraught When I rambled home at nightfall with the puny string I'd caught!
I ain't afeard uv snakes, or toads, or bugs, or worms, or mice, An' things 'at girls are skeered uv I think are awful nice! I'm pretty brave, I guess; an' yet I hate to go to bed, For, when I'm tucked up warm an' snug an' when my prayers are said,
In The Firelight
The fire upon the hearth is low,
And there is stillness everywhere,
While like winged spirits, here and there,
The firelight shadows fluttering go.
And as the shadows round me creep,
A childish treble breaks the gloom,
And softly from a further room
Comes, "Now I lay me down to sleep."