Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
for medium high voice and piano
Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe--
on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going
and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to
fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
silver and gold have we!"
old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea--
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish--
Never afeard are we!"
the stars to the fishermen three:
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam.
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen
'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
wee one's trundle bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
[ 8 pages, circa 4' 50" ]
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, Eugene
Field was an American writer, best known for his children's poetry and
humorous essays. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts, then Knox
College in Galesburg, Illinois but dropped out, and then went to the
University of Missouri. He tried acting and studied law with little success.
He then set off for a trip through Europe but returned to the United States
six months later, penniless. Field then set to work as a journalist for the
Gazette in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1875, and later rose to become its
city editor. When first at the Gazette, he married Julia Comstock,
with whom he had eight children. For the rest of his life he arranged for
all the money he earned to be sent to his wife, saying that he had no head
for money himself. He was well known for his light, humorous articles
written in a gossipy style, some of which were reprinted by other newspapers
around the country.
From 1876 through 1880 Field lived in St. Louis,
first as an editorial writer for the Morning Journal and subsequently
for the Times-Journal. After a brief stint as managing editor of the
Kansas City Times, he worked for two years as editor of the Denver
Tribune. In 1883 Field moved to Chicago where he wrote a humorous
newspaper column called Sharps & Flats for the Chicago Daily News.
He first started publishing poetry in 1879, when his book Christian
Treasures appeared. Over a dozen more volumes followed and he became
well known for his light-hearted poems for children, perhaps the most famous
of which is "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod". Several of his poems were set to
music with commercial success. Many of his works were accompanied by
paintings from the American artist, Maxfield Parrish. Field has his
own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Numerous elementary schools
throughout the Midwest are named for him.
The setting of this poem wanders through several tonal domains, by the broad
use of whole tone, polytonal and chromatic gestures. As with our own dreams
which can meld many images together, this unease at resting in any tonal
domain is a musical reflection of that penchant of the human mind. While the
setting's first strophe hovers around A major and minor, this is not a
necessary indication of what is to come.
The third stanza of the poem begins asymmetrically over bridge material,
rather than with another strophe of the song. Again, the melodic line
reflects a tonal domain of A while the harmonic underpinning leads in a
The ending of this musical setting slips down from the beginning hint at A
minor, into a solid A flat, with inner voices leading through whole tone
changes as the harmonic rhythm and tempo of the work lessens to a final
cadence, as if "falling asleep."
The score to Wynken, Blynken and Nod is available as a free PDF
download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work
is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the
graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
Wynken, Blynken and Nod