I first came across the poem years ago, when the sweet girl was very young, in a big collection of children's poems. I didn't know until today that this poem was actually part of a whole collection of poems that Brooks wrote for children, back in 1956, called Bronzeville Boys and Girls. Thanks to Brain Pickings, I now not only know that, I also know that Brooks worked on the collection with the wonderful editor Ursula Nordstrom, whom I've written about more than once here. Why am I not surprised that Ursula helped bring Cynthia into the world? Reading that today just felt serendipitous.
One of the nicest things about the Brain Pickings article is that it provides a big sampling of other poems from Bronzeville Boys and Girls, along with original artwork. Each poem is like a little gem, a portrait of a distinct child doing and thinking and creating and playing just like a child does.
Here's one I enjoyed, entitled "Narcissa."
Some of the girls are playing jacks.
Some are playing ball.
But small Narcissa is not playing
Anything at all.
Small Narcissa sits upon
A brick in her back yard
And looks at tiger-lilies,
And shakes her pigtails hard.
First she is an ancient queen
In pomp and purple veil.
Soon she is a singing wind.
And, next, a nightingale.
How fine to be Narcissa,What a wonderful poet was Gwendolyn Brooks.
A-changing like all that!
While sitting still, as still, as still
As anyone ever sat!