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19th century poem pays homage to coming New Year

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Submitted by Gloria Berger

While preparing a holiday lesson for my kindergarten class, I came across this lovely poem, written many years ago, but so charming, I have to share it with the readers of The TimesLedger.

Perhaps this poem inspired Dr. Seuss.

“A New Years Cake”

Written by Margaret Johnson, 1897

The 12 merry Months once decided to make,

For the New Year approaching, a wonderful cake,

Contributing freely each one, more or less,

And sharing the pride of the final success.

September, who through her acquaintance with schools,

Was up in the latest grammatical rules,

Wrote out, in a lovely Spencerian hand,

A recipe any one might understand.

November, as usual, busy and hurried,

And with her Election-cake specially worried,

For fear it would burn while her mind was so flurried,

From what she had left on her generous hands,

When her Thanksgiving cooking, with all its demands, was finished, the milk and the spices supplied;

While April the eggs was o’erjoyed to provide,

All colored, of course, with indelible dyes—

“My choicest!” said April, with tears in her eyes,

March furnished the sugar, and though I admit

‘Twas maple, still that didn’t matter a bit.

He mixed the cake, too, being sturdy and stout,

And accustomed to stirring things briskly about.

The flour was from May, — her particular brand

(You’ve heard of the “Mayflower”?) and white as her hand,

Dear June sent the flavoring, — extract of rose,

The sweetest and purest, as every one knows;

And August the butter, in cups of bright gold,

Which seemed all the sunshine of summer to hold.

February gave cherries, quite dried up and brown,

From the tree that George Washington said he cut down;

And October declared, with a laugh and a frown

(Understand, this is slang which I do not recommend!),

That to vie with his gift she could never pretend,

Though she, too, had nothing but chestnuts to send!

July did the baking, and skillfully, too.

‘Twas done top and bottom, and all the way through.

Her oven was steady and right to a T.

January’s crisp icing was lovely to see.

December, quite ready to part with her best,

Declared, what with stockings and trees and the rest,

Every thing that she owned she had given away,

Save a bonbon or two and a bright holly spray.

So these, for adornment, arranged with much taste,

On the top of the beautiful structure were placed.

“Feb” dashed off a rhyme, — he was quick with his pen

From writing of Valentines now and again.

And, boxed up with care, and addressed in red ink,

By the Lightning Express, which is quick as a wink

(Engaged by July), this delectable cake,

Whose like I defy any baker to bake,

Was sent New Year’s morning, in triumph so clear,

From the 12 merry Months to their darling New Year.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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