the garden as opportunity for naughtiness

In his blog Hermes has been showing us the lovely, idealized English garden paintings of the Victorian era. I adore those paintings too. But what do they tell us about English society at the time? Until halfway through the twentieth century, childrens literature was used for imparting moral values.

I think this poem "Come and Play in the Garden" by Jane and Ann Taylor, illustrated by Kate Greenaway and published in 1883, shows us how the garden was used to educate children to respect private property and obey their elders.


Little sister, come away,
And let us in the garden play,
For it is a pleasant day.

On the grass-plat let us sit,
Or, if you please, we'll play a bit,
And run about all over it.

But the fruit we will not pick,
For that would be a naughty trick,
And very likely make us sick.

Nor will we pluck the pretty flowers
That grow about the beds and bowers,
Because you know they are not ours.

We'll take the daisies white and red.
Because mamma has often said
That we may gather them instead.

And much I hope we always may
Our very dear mamma obey,
And mind whatever she may say.


  1. Thank you. I knnow that poem as I love Kate Greenaway and it is so charming and of its time but still with truths worth following.

  2. It is very charming.
    The children todayililyil are so far removed from this sort of poetry. Remember Struwelpeter, all the stories were about don't do this and don't do that.

  3. Hi Hermes, I am so pleased you also love Kate Greenaway. And you know the poem! It is in the Little Ann poetry book,I have a first edition copy, it comprises the sum of my antiquarian book collection.

  4. Hi Titania, charming is the word isn't it? I do know Struwelpeter, I guess it was an early horror theme, so-o-o different to the later Dr Seuss.


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