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Hello everybody, my name is Natasha and his Royal Highness Prince Bertie the Frog has commanded me to recite you two poems about mice. At first, when I heard this idea, I went “Urghhhh, I don’t like mice very much, Bertie…” And Bertie said.
“That’s because your a girl, Natasha. Princes aren’t afraid of mice.”
But I’ll let you into a little secret. Dandelion the Palace cat told me that when Bertie was still Royal and lived in the palace, he left all the mouse catching strictly up to Dandelion.
Now the first poem is about a greedy mouse. It’s called the Mouse and the Cake by Eliza Cook.
A mouse found a beautiful piece of plum cake,
The richest and sweetest that mortal could make;
Twas heavy with citron and fragrant with spice,
and covered with sugar all sparkling as ice.
‘My Stars!” cried the mouse, while his eye beamed with glee,
‘Here’s a treasure I’ve found; what a feast it will be;
But hark! there’a noise, ’tis my brothers at play;
So I’ll hide with the cake, lest they wander this way.
Not a bit shall they have, for I know I can eat,
Every morsel myself, and I’ll have such a treat’
So off went and held the cake fast,
While his hungry young brothers went scampering past.
He nibbled and nibbled, and panted, but still,
he kept gulping it down till he made himself ill;
Yet he swallowed it all, and ’tis easy to guess,
he was soon so unwell that he groaned with distress.
His family heard him, and as he grew worse,
They sent for the doctor, who made him rehearse
How he’s eaten he cake to the very last crumb,
Without giving his playmates and relatives some.
‘Ah me!’ cried the doctor, ‘advice is too late’
You must die before long, so prepare for your fate;
if you had but divided the cake with your brothers,
Twould have done you no harm, and been good for the others.
‘Had you shared it, the treat had been wholesome enough,
But eaten by one, it was dangerous stuff;
So prepare for the worst-‘ and the word had scarce fled,
When the doctor turned round and the patient was dead.
No all little people the lesson may take,
and Some large ones may learn from the mouse and the cake;
Not to be over-selfish with what we may gain;
Or the best of our pleasures may turn to pain.
And that was the poem of the Mouse and the Cake by Eliza Cook. Now Bertie the frog, tells me that actually, when he was still a prince, there was one time when he ate too much cake on his birthday. Fortunately he didn’t’ die, but he did have to go and lie down for a little bit, even though he had lots of new toys to play with. That’s a secret by the way, so don’t’ tell anyone, especially as it’s a Royal secret.
The second poem is about mouse who liked to eat peas quite a lot. It was first written by a man called Horace, who lived a very long time ago in Ancient Rome, but this English version was composed a 150 years ago by Richard Scrafton Sharpe. It’s called, The Country Mouse and the City Mouse.
In a snug little cot lived a fat little mouse,
Who enjoyed, unmolested, the range of the house;
With plain food content, she would breakfast on cheese,
She dined upon bacon, and supped on grey peas.
A friend from the town to the cottage did stray,
And he said he was come a short visit to pay;
So the mouse spread her table as gay as you please,
And brought the nice bacon and charming grey peas.
The visitor frowned, and he thought to be witty:
Cried he, you must know, I am come from the city,
Where we all should be shocked at provisions like these,
For we never eat bacon and horrid grey peas.
To town come with me, I will give you a treat:
Some excellent food, most delightful to eat.
With me shall you feast just as long as you please;
Come, leave this fat bacon and shocking grey peas.
This kind invitation she could not refuse,
And the city mouse wished not a moment to lose;
Reluctant she quitted the fields and the trees,
The delicious fat bacon and charming grey peas.
They slily crept under a gay parlour door,
Where a feast had been given the evening before;
And it must be confessed they on dainties did seize,
Far better than bacon, or even grey peas.
Here were custard and trifle, and cheesecakes good store,
Nice sweetmeats and jellies, and twenty things more;
All that art had invented the palate to please,
Except some fat bacon and smoking grey peas.
They were nicely regaling, when into the room
Came the dog and the cat, and the maid with a broom:
They jumped in a custard both up to their knees;
The country mouse sighed for her bacon and peas.
Cried she to her friend, Get me safely away,
I can venture no longer in London to stay;
For if oft you receive interruptions like these,
Give me my nice bacon and charming grey peas.
Your living is splendid and gay, to be sure,
But the dread of disturbance you ever endure;
I taste true delight in contentment and ease,
And I feast on fat bacon and charming grey peas.’
And that’s the poem of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, by Richard Scrafton Sharpe. I hope you enjoyed it, even if you are not quite so enthusiastic about peas as that little mouse.