Sunday Poetry – Jane Taylor


This is what I love about reading – I learn something interesting practically every time I open a book or click on a website. I didn’t know the origins of the lullaby, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star but I’ve just come across it in my anthology of Romantic poetry. I suppose if I thought about it at all, I thought it was a traditional rhyme. I only knew the first verse & a mangled version of the last so here’s the complete poem, called The Star (picture from here)& written by Jane Taylor in 1806. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, Jane & her sister, Ann, published Rhymes for the Nursery in 1806, a very successful volume although this is probably the only rhyme which has survived. I especially like the Mad Hatter’s parody in Alice – Twinkle, twinkle little bat!/ How I wonder what you’re at!/ Up above the world you fly,/Like a tea tray in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
How could he see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so?

In the dark blue sky you keep,
Often through my curtains peep
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

6 thoughts on “Sunday Poetry – Jane Taylor

  1. I've learned something new today, too! I had no idea there were so many verses as I've only ever heard the first one. I wonder who first set it to music?:)

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  2. The melody is the French song Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman which seems to be early 18th century. Mozart composed variations on it as did other composers.The Star was first published with the music in 1838 but I don't know whose idea it was.

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  3. I'm glad you liked it, Pam. The Wikipedia article seems pretty thorough & I got all my info from there. I had no idea how many composers used the tune before the poem was set to it.

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