Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: III. Fun for Little Folk
The Story of Johnny-Head-in-Air
Heinrich Hoffmann (1809–1894)
From “The English Struwwelpeter”

AS he trudged along to school,
It was always Johnny’s rule
To be looking at the sky
And the clouds that floated by;
But what just before him lay,        5
In his way,
Johnny never thought about;
So that every one cried out—
“Look at little Johnny there,
Little Johnny Head-in-Air!”        10
Running just in Johnny’s way,
Came a little dog one day;
Johnny’s eyes were still astray
Up on high,
In the sky;        15
And he never heard them cry—
“Johnny, mind, the dog is nigh!”
Down they fell with such a thump,        20
Dog and Johnny in a lump!
Once, with head as high as ever,
Johnny walked beside the river.
Johnny watched the swallows trying
Which was cleverest at flying.        25
Oh! what fun!
Johnny watched the bright round sun
Going in and coming out;
This was all he thought about.
So he strode on, only think!        30
To the river’s very brink,
Where the bank was high and steep,
And the water very deep;
And the fishes, in a row,
Stared to see him coming so.        35
One step more! Oh! sad to tell!
Headlong in poor Johnny fell.
And the fishes, in dismay,
Wagged their tails and ran away.
There lay Johnny on his face        40
With his nice red writing-case;
But, as they were passing by,
Two strong men had heard him cry;
And, with sticks, these two strong men
Hooked poor Johnny out again.        45
Oh! you should have seen him shiver,
When they pulled him from the river,
He was in a sorry plight!
Dripping wet, and such a fright!
Wet all over, everywhere,        50
Clothes, and arms, and face, and hair;
Johnny never will forget
What it is to be so wet.
And the fishes, one, two, three,
Are come back again, you see;        55
Up they came the moment after,
To enjoy the fun and laughter.
Each popped out his little head,
And to tease poor Johnny, said:
“Silly little Johnny, look,        60
You have lost your writing-book!”

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