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Q: Finding a poem beginning 'When long ago the world was young...' ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Finding a poem beginning 'When long ago the world was young...'
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: stephenflanagan-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 03 Nov 2005 12:48 PST
Expires: 03 Dec 2005 12:48 PST
Question ID: 588544
My father was taught a poem in school in Ireland as a child, during
the 1950s. As he taught it to me, it began:

When long ago the world was young
And birds could speak and lecture 
The magpie called her feathered friends
To teach them architecture

He has never been able to find it again, and we are unable to find it
online. If you can identify the poem and author that would be great.
Even better would be the text of it online somwhere :-)

Subject: Re: Finding a poem beginning 'When long ago the world was young...'
Answered By: juggler-ga on 03 Nov 2005 13:30 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

The poem is "The Magpie's Lecture." 

The complete text of the poem appears on page RB130 of the New York
Times, March 5, 1911.   In the accompanying article, the NY Times
reports that the poem appears in a textbook called "Monroe's Fourth
Reader," which was published in the late 1800s. The poem is likely
public domain, but to avoid any potential copyright issues, I will
only quote the first two stanzas:


In early times, the story says,
  When birds could talk and lecture,
A magpie called her featured friends
  To teach them architecture.
"To build a nest my courteous friends"
  They all began to chatter-
"No need to teach us that good Mag,
 'Tis such an easy matter."

"To build a nest," Professor Mag
  Resumed her speech demurely
"First choose a well-forked bough, wherein
  The nest may sit securely,"
"Of course," said Jenny Wren. "Now cross
  Two sticks for the foundation."
"Oh, all know that," quoth Mr Rook,
  "Without this long oration."

You can purchase the page containing the rest of the poem from the New
York Times archive by following this link:
QUERIES AND ANSWERS, New York Times; Mar 5, 1911; pg. RB130, 2

Vintage copies of Monroe's Fourth Reader are available from

search strategy:
new york times historical archive: "magpie called"

I hope this helps.
stephenflanagan-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
That is fantastic, thanks so much!

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