first of all, i have got to say that, if you have not read the classic winnie-the-pooh stories by a. a. milne, please do so. please. it has been said that children can love a book more passionately than grown-ups, and perhaps it is true. winnie-the-pooh is one of those books that we love passionately as children and say good-bye to as we grow up; but wherever we go, and whatever happens to us along the way, in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing. it isn’t really Good-bye, because the Forest will always be there…and anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it.*
in “winnie-the-pooh,” the story begins in the real world, with christopher robin bringing his Bear downstairs for a bed-time story. in order to capture some of the whimsical feeling of a. a. milne, i have intentionally used italics instead of quotation marks for the real-world dialogue between milne and christopher robin. during the rest of the story, i used regular quotation marks. i also intentionally misspelled some words for the same purpose.
one more thing before i get on. those of you who familiar with a. a. milne’s poetry will recognize snippets of his style in the poem below. no, this was not intentional. at least, not at first. it just came naturally and seemed to suit, so i let it. after all, as pooh says, “it is the best way to write poetry, letting things come.”
We Are Introduced to
Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees,
And the Stories Begin
The honorable Mr. Edward Bear
Is bumping, head-first, down the stair
For Christopher to present to you
As his favorite Bear, Winnie-ther-Pooh
But I thought that Edward was a boy?
So did I, said Robin, of toy.
Then Winnie cannot be his name?
But Winnie-ther-Pooh is not the same
As just plain Winnie, Robin explained.
Sometimes Winnie-ther-Pooh likes a game
But tonight, he wants a story told
About himself, in times of old.
So (I began), a long time ago now,
About last Friday, I should allow,
Pooh lived by himself in a house in the woods,
Under the name “Sanders,” as any Bear should.
What does “under the name” imply?
Asked Winnie-ther-Pooh, with a Christopher-sigh.
It means “Sanders” hung over his door.
Oh, said Christopher, Pooh wasn’t sure.
One day (I went on), when Pooh was out walking,
He heard the sound of bumble-bees talking.
So Winnie (ther-Pooh) sat down to think
Of the reason for bees, if not to make drinks
Of hunny – quite yummy – for Bears to imbibe.
So up the hunny-tree Pooh Bear climbed,
And as he climbed he sang a bear-song
Such as bears sing when the climb grows long.
But just as he nearly reached the bees’ hive,
The branch beneath his furry paws dived.
And down he bumped, with a crash! and a smush!
Then flew, gracefully, into a gorse-bush.
So, Pooh Bear brushed prickles off of his nose
And prickles from tail and prickles from toes,
And Winnie (ther-Pooh) began wondering
Whether bees like to hear rain-clouds sing.
Off went Winnie (ther-Pooh) to see
His good acquaintance, Robin (C.)
To ask if he had got such a thing
As a nice, big balloon, on a strong string.
That “good acquaintance, Robin (C.),”
Christopher asked, breathlessly,
Was that me? His voice was shy.
Of course it was, replied I.
“Good morning, Winnie-ther-Pooh,” said you.
“Good morning, Christopher Robin,” said Pooh,
“I wonder if you’ve got such a thing about
As a nice balloon, with a string – quite stout?”
“Yes,” said Christopher, “I’ve got two.
But what do you want the balloon to do?”
“Hunny!” Pooh said, in a deep-throated whisper.
“You don’t get hunny with balloons,” said Christopher.
“When a Bear goes out, hunting for hunny
The best thing to do is to hide that he’s coming.
“So if I had a bright blue balloon,
“And if the bees thought that it might rain soon,
“And if I looked like a small black cloud,
That would deceive them,” said Pooh, proud.
So Winnie (ther-Pooh) went to roll in the mud
While Christopher Robin retrieved his pop-gun –
Just-in-Case, as he always did,
And off they went to make their bid
For a delicious mess of hunny,
And to play being rain-clouds in brilliant sun-y.
Robin blew the balloon as big as big,
And gave Pooh the string to the bee-fooling rig.
Up sailed Winnie (ther-Pooh) to the top
Of the tree full of hunny, and there he stopped.
Twenty feet distant (laterally),
Twenty feet from the hunny-filled-tree.
“What do I look like?” Pooh called down
To Christopher, with an anxious frown.
“You look like a Bear, holding on a balloon.”
Thereupon Winnie (ther-Pooh) thought a tune
Such as rain-clouds might sing as they sailed along
Would come in handy, so he thought up a song.
“Christopher Robin,” called down Pooh,
“I would be much obliged if you
Brought an umbrella out of your house
And acted as though you expected a douse
From a little black rain-cloud (such as me).”
“Silly old bear,” thought quietly
Christopher Robin to himself; but
He got out his umbrella with a “Tut, tut!
It looks like rain!” Hoping, you see
That, hearing him, the bees might be
Deceived as to Pooh’s masterful plan
To steal the hunny from the bee-clan.
As Robin marched himself all about,
Wondering whether the clouds might doubt
The weather-man’s forecast of Warm and Sunny,
Pooh sang his song (not about hunny!) –
A song about Rain-Clouds, sailing through
The Bright, the Brilliant Sky so Blue.
The bees still buzzed, suspicious as ever
Of this little black cloud so clever
As to devise a song to sing;
And, angrily, the bees started to sting.
“Christopher – ow! – Robin, I was
Thinking these bees have the wrong sort of buzz;
They must be the wrong sort of bees to make
The kind of hunny that I want to take.
I think I’ll come down now, Robin,” Pooh said,
“But how?” asked Christopher, shaking his head.
Winnie (ther-Pooh) hadn’t thought about this.
If he let go the string he’d fall down on his
Top, or his bottom, which didn’t sound fun;
So Pooh Bear told Robin to use his pop-gun
To shoot the balloon, to let out the air,
And to gently bring down the up-stranded Bear.
So Christopher aimed carefully at
The big, the brilliant, blue balloon that
Carried his friend, Winnie (ther-Pooh).
Pop! went his gun, and hit straight and true –
But by the loud “ow” that Pooh cried out,
Christopher Robin began to doubt.
“Did I miss?” asked Robin, asked he.
“You missed the balloon, but you didn’t miss me.”
“Sorry,” said Christopher, firing again.
This time he hit the balloon, and then
Slowly the balloon came down –
Slowly Bear came to the ground.
But – alas! – from holding tight
To his string with all his might,
Winnie (ther-Pooh)’s arms were so stiff
That all that he could do was sniff
When a fly landed on his nose.
Which, perhaps – no one knows –
May be why his name was Pooh.
I don’t know for sure. Do you?
Is that the end? Robin wanted to know.
Of that story, yes…but there are more.
All about Pooh, and you, and all,
And Piglet, and Rabbit…don’t you recall?
I do remember, but I sometimes forget.
Don’t you remember when Pooh tried to set
A trap for the Heffalump he tried to catch?
Did they get the Heffalump catched?
No. Then Christopher said with a huff,
Pooh hasn’t got any brain – just fluff
So of course, he couldn’t catch it. Did I?
That comes in the story. Christopher sighed.
I remember now, but Pooh likes to be told
So that it’s not just remembering stories old.
Are you going to come see my bath?
I might decide to, I said with a laugh.
Christopher nodded and left and I knew
That in just a moment I’d hear Winnie-ther-Pooh….
The honorable Mr. Edward Bear
Is bumping, feet-first, up the stair
To dream Grand Dreams of balloons and bees
With my son, Christopher – Robin (C.)
*excerpts taken from the introduction and final chapter of a. a. milne’s “house at pooh corner.”