How this took me back to learning poems at school and having to recite them to Miss Davey! All of these poems are familiar to me; either my mother had to learn them when she was at school and later taught them to me, or I knew them from my schooldays and those of my daughters....
This was one of my mother's favourites; Meg Merrilies by John Keats. She had recited this for a school concert, dressed as a gypsy.
Old Meg she was a gypsy;
And liv'd upon the moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors
Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants, pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a church-yard tomb.
Her brothers were the craggy hills,
Her sisters larchen trees;
Alone with her great family
She liv'd as she did please.
No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the moon.
But every morn, of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen yew
She wove, and she would sing.
And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited mats o' rushes,
And gave them to the cottagers
She met among the bushes.
Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen,
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore,
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere —
She died full long agone!