The fourth of six cross-curricular lesson plans on Autumn and Fall for Primary or Elementary School children using songs and animations, poetry analysis and writing, music analysis, instrument making, art projects and play ideas.
The Cottager and her Infant
Animation by Paula Downes, music by Andrew Downes, poetry by Dorothy Wordsworth.
The days are cold, the nights are long,
The north wind sings a doleful song;
Then hush again upon my breast;
All merry things are now at rest,
Save thee, my pretty love!
The kitten sleeps upon the hearth,
The crickets now have ceased their mirth;
And nothing stirs within the house
Save scrabbling feet from hungry mouse,
Then why so busy thou?
Nay! fear it not, that sparkling light;
'Tis but the moon that shines so bright
On window-pane be dropped with rain:
My little child will sleep again,
And wake when it is day.
When was this poem written? Dorothy Wordsworth - 1771-1855
Who was Dorothy Wordsworth? Sister of William Wordsworth - more famous because he was a man, but he borrowed her descriptions of nature in her diaries freely
Why are the days cold and the nights long? time of year - talk about the seasons, temperatures and the lengths of days and nights
How is the Lady dressed? long 18th/19th century dress
Why is she sitting by the fire? no other heating at that time
Watch the video below for a background to Dorothy Wordsworth:
There are a number of old-fashioned words in this poem. What is a 'cottager' and what is a 'cottage'? Check they understand the meaning of 'doleful', 'save', 'hearth', 'ceased', 'mirth', stirs', 'scrabbling', 'thou', 'nay', 'tis', 'pane', 'dropped'.
What are the 'merry things' in verse 1? (look in verse 2)
Who is 'my pretty love'?
Search for rhyming words, colours, nouns, adjectives. Is the rhyming structure the same for all three verses?
Brainstorm all the nouns and adjectives associated with Autumn/Fall, cottages, babies.
Ask the children to select words that rhyme from the brainstorm.
Ask them them to write a poem with the same rhyming structure as the poem in the song.
Show the children the following youtube clips of instruments so they know what they are listening out for in the song.
Bowed Strings (arco):
Plucked Strings (pizzicato):
Analysis of the song:
- At the very start of the song, listen out for the harp playing fast arpeggios before the melody starts on the strings.
- Then notice the piano taking over the arpeggios and the glockenspiel joining in at the same time.
- Notice when the harp takes over from the piano again just before the voice comes in.
- Which three instruments are playing the little interludes between the verses? Flute, Trumpet, Piano
- Listen out for plucked strings in verse 2
- Listen out for the new flute, piano and harp countermelodies in verse 3.
Draw a scene from the song.