In the Waldorf school recitation, games, and songs play a central role in strengthening the memory and providing a spatial and kinesthetic foundation for learning. This is a collection of verses that Eugene Schwartz wrote for his class as he shepherded them through the primary grades. They are used by Waldorf teachers throughout the world and may be freely downloaded.
Student work reflecting the entire Waldorf Curriculum, Grades One through Eight, is available on The Elements of the Waldorf Curriculum, a set of CDs that may be purchased from the Online CD Catalog at www.millennialchild.com.
One is the Sun that shines so bright,
One is the moon so high;
One is the day and one is the night,
One is the sheltering sky.
One is a head so still and tame,
Upon one body whole with health;
And I is the one and the special name
That only I can call myself!
Two are the eyes with which I see,
Two are the ears that hear;
Joy and sorrow both live in me,
And so do courage and fear.
Darkness and Light must together live,
Night and day are as sister and brother;
And two are the hands that receive and give,
To help myself or serve another.
Around me in the world I see
Beast and plant and stone.
Nature weaves her world as Three,
But I am three in one:
A head well-wrought for wisdom’s work,
A heart hallowed by love;
Strong limbs to labor on the earth
As Angels do above.
Summer and Autumn, Winter and Spring,
Through Four seasons passes the year;
Fire and Air, Water and Earth–
Out of these four does our whole world appear.
Five are the fingers upon each hand,
Each foot has its five toes;
Five rays has the star shining high o’er the land,
Five petals has the rose.
And when with limbs outstretched I alight,
Like a five-pointed star
All the world I make bright!
The Snow Queen casts Six-pointed flakes
On stormy winds to ride;
The crystal with its six clear walls
In deepest earth abides;
When the busy bee builds honeycombs
He sculpts them with six sides.
Wherever Light would find a home,
In storm, or cave, or honeycomb,
Six is its chosen number and form.
Odd and Even Game
(The children form two lines; one line wears crowns bearing odd numbers, the other crowns with even numbers.)
We are the Odd Numbers
Oh, so lonely!
We haven’t any friends
By night or day;
Ah, for one friend,
One friend only,
To hop and skip and run and play!
Here we come,
The Even Numbers!
We’re your friends,
We’ll stand by you;
Call our names and we’ll come romping,
Dancing, stomping, two by two!
(Calling out their numbers in turn, the children pair up, take hands and skip together to music played by their teacher.)
Summer is Ending
(A poem for loud and low voices; to be accompanied by the appropriate gestures)
“Summer is ending!” the father bear said,
“In yonder tree hollow I’ll build me a bed.”
“Summer is ending!” said all the gold weeds,
And so, softly sighing, they scattered their seeds.
“Summer is ending!” the hurricane cried,
Hurling and whirling harsh winds high and wide.
“Summer is ending,” said fiery King Sun,
“My flame must grow fainter, then fade out to none!“
Jack Frost crept into my room,
Though the windows were shut tight;
Painting pictures on each pane,
Weaving worlds of glimmering ice.
Glowing on the gleaming glass,
Frosty flowers, snowy trees,
Crystal castles, icy grass–
Jack Frost painted all of these.
When the morning’s rosy rays
Showed the power of the Sun,
Jack Frost laughingly erased
All the work that he had done!
(To be recited while walking in a spiral)
In the deep and dark wood’s heart
Where moans the North Wind cold,
You will find a sun-filled cave
When you walk a spiral road.
Shimmering stars will sing above
To the crystals that glitter below,
While you draw your light from a flame so bright
Bringing warmth to the sparkling snow.
Late Winter, Early Spring
Busy gnomes chip away
At the winter’s hard ground,
So that bulbs may burst forth
And spring’s beauty abound.
In the woods, damp and dark,
They must labor below
Crooked roots and cold stones,
Pushing stalks through the snow.
Undines melt snow until
Water can flow again,
Filling the leaves growing
Green with spring rain.
Sylphs, they are dreaming
Of winds softly streaming
Through petals all yellow
And purple and blue.
Some Vowels and Consonants
M ‘Midst the mountains’ melting snows,
Murmuring breezes meekly blow;
But mighty winds among the vales
Meet mists that move o’er marshes pale.
A,E,I The sun shines in his heart,
The sun’s rays make him brave;
He leads a steed as fleet as thought,
From fire and ice he’s saved.
B Be brave, Snow White!
Be bold, Rose Red!
The bear all burly brown
Will soon become the bearer
Of a bright and beauteous crown!
Tooth Fairy Game
(To be acted out by children whenever a classmate has lost a tooth; insert the child’s name and correct pronouns)
This night it is a special night:
Lithe fairies dance upon the roof;
All the prancers must alight,
For LUKAS has now lost a tooth!
The Fairy Queen gives her commands:
Twelve bright fairies must join hands
And together in the circle stand
To guard Lukas while he sleeps.
The Tooth Fairy into the circle now leaps,
And the hidden tooth she takes;
Oh, she has so far to go,
Before sleepyhead Lukas awakes.
Three times around the world she flies,
O’er valleys deep and mountains high;
She skirts the storm clouds thick with thunder,
And wings o’er waves all wild with wonder.
Deep within their earthly home
Finally she finds the gnomes,
Who upon the tooth must work,
And never once their duty shirk.
Some are hammering, hammering, hammering,
While some the bellows blow;
Others must sweat at the sweltering forge,
And then cry out, “Heigh-ho!“
The tooth has been turned into a crystal bright,
A glittering, glowing gem;
The Tooth Fairy takes the gnomes’ gleaming gift
And bows to all of them.
Before the sun’s first rays are shown,
She returns to Lukas’ bed;
Places the gem beneath his head,
And then–away she’s flown!
(32 lines = 32 teeth)
Snow King and Spring Princess
(To help learn “body geography”)
(Children stand in a circle, with the Snow King in the center and the Spring Princess outside of the circle.)
Circle of Children:
The Snow King casts a frozen spell
On everyone in sight–
He makes them dance about so well,
Then turns them into ice!
(The Snow King leads children in movement, as in “Simple Simon”)
Raise your right hand! Raise your left!
Above your head now clap!
Place your hands upon your hips!
Give your knees a slap!
Right foot in and left foot in,
Spin about if you please!
In and out and in and out and…
(Children rapidly alternate right and left feet in and out of the circle until the Snow King says, “FREEZE!”
(The Spring Princess now enters the circle of frozen children, goes up to a child and asks:
Which foot now within the circle rests?
Is it the right foot or is it the left?
(To the child who answers correctly the Princess says,
You are thawed out!
(That child now asks another the same question and the process continues until everyone is thawed out. The children then take hands.)
We are thawed out!
Spring has come!
Let us dance and
Let us run! (They run about in the circle and sing “Spring is Coming
(For Michaelmas–September 29–or St. George’s Day, April 23)
(The children form a circle, which becomes the battlements of the town wall. Within is the princess or prince, and outside of the circle are St. George and the Dragon.)
In a swamp, dark and dank,
Lived a Dragon most wild,
Who devoured the crops
Every lamb and each child.
(The Dragon breaks into the circle and pursues the princess or prince)
All folk trembled in fear
When he rose from the mire,
Like a fierce flying snake,
Belching smoke, breathing fire!
(St. George enters and battles the Dragon.)
Oh St. George, Come! Advance!
‘Gainst the Dragon to fight,
With your horse and your lance
And your conquering might!
St. George battled the beast,
‘Till the rays of the sun
As it rose in the east
Showed our knight to have won!
St. Martin, St. Martin, a Roman soldier bold,
Swiftly on his snow-white steed through icy streets once rode,
Not fearing bleak November skies nor numbing winds so cold!
An aged, ailing beggar Martin met upon his way,
“Oh, could you spare a coin for one so poor, my lord, I pray?
“Oh, would you save a soul who suffers from the chill this day?”
Martin drew his cloak more tightly ’round his shoulders broad;
Bright red was the woolen cloak that stretched from helm to sword;
Only Roman soldiers wore such warmth as their reward.
Yet the wind cut keenly through the rags the beggar wore;
Beneath the soldier’s Roman garb a Christian heart grew sore–
From his armor Martin now the woolen mantle tore.
With his sword he cut the bright red cloak in pieces two:
“What was one I’ll double so that it may be shared with you!”
(Multiplying by dividing was a secret Martin knew!)
Martin dreamed a wondrous dream upon that icy night:
Hosts of angels drew him upwards to the starry heights,
Where the Lord his mantle wore, wrapped in radiance of light.
“It was I in beggar’s guise who asked your charity;
You were wise to trust to heart and give so graciously–
For what you do to any one you do so unto Me.”
St. Jerome and the Lion
(Expansion and Contraction)
(The children form a very quiet circle of monks. Jerome sits on a stool in the center of the circle; the Lion is outside the circle.)
Quietly working, the monks did not look
Backwards or sidewards or up from their books
When in strode a lion, ferocious and rough,
Who they were certain would eat them all up!
(Children run to farthest corners of the room)
Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!
(The Lion approaches Jerome; the children reform their circle and slowly walk towards the center.)
Mild St. Jerome neither faltered nor feared,
He did not flee when the Lion appeared–
He kindly cared for the poor limping beast,
And tended his paw ’till his suffering ceased.
(Children again run to farthest corners of room)
Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased! Ceased!
(As Jerome cares for the Lion’s paw, the children slowly approach the center of the circle again.)
Later that day, all bedraggled and beaten,
The monks returned, certain Jerome had been eaten.
They found, when they timidly peered in his cell,
That the Lion was purring–Jerome was quite well!
(Children again run to farthest corners of room)
Well! Well! Well! Well! Well! Well! Well! Well! Well! Well!
(Twelve children form a large circle–the are the NUMERALS. The individual children who portray the HOUR HAND, the MINUTE HAND and the SECOND HAND move along concentric circles within the circle of NUMERALS.)
(The HOUR HAND–ideally, a phlegmatic child–moves slowly within the large circle.)
At the slow, steady pace
Of the Sun’s kingly power
I carefully toll out
The day’s twice-twelve hours.
(As he walks past each NUMERAL he strikes a gong and the NUMERAL calls out his number.)
(The MINUTE HAND–ideally, a sanguine child–now moves with greater speed within a smaller circle.)
I count by fives and
Move twelve times as fast–
When he tries to catch up
I’m already past!
(As he passes the NUMERALS he calls out, “5–10–15–20–…”)
(The SECOND HAND–ideally, a choleric child–runs rapidly within the smallest circle.)
I’m sprightly and bright
As the beat of your heart,
And dart halfway round
Before Minute Hand starts!
Not one to be quiet,
I cry out, “Tick-tock!”
And never grow tired
Of my race ’round the clock!
Tick-tock! Tick-tock! Tick-tock!…
(After the three HANDS have moved around the circle once or twice, they stop and grow silent and the NUMERALS–ideally, melancholics–now speak.)
Let others move slowly,
Or quick as they will,
We serve Time best
By just standing quite still.
Like heavenly stars,
Ever calm and steadfast,
We remain true,
Knowing all things must pass.
(Local Geography, NY)
I am the majestic Hudson,
Born out of fire and ice,
I am Manitou’s daughter,
The Mother of Waters,
I greet Brother Sun at his rise.
I once was a river of fire,
Volcanoes ruled then – wild, untamed;
Molten stone flowed,
For ages untold,
And my blazing banks flickered, aflame.
Those smoldering peaks spewed and sputtered
Thick vapors of smothering smoke;
From my heights to my deeps
I shuddered in sleep
When with a loud CLAP! I awoke.
From the northlands grim glaciers descended,
In their grip all grew solid and still;
Cracking and crushing,
Pounding and pushing,
My mountains gave way to their will.
Those fierce frosty sculptors sliced through me,
Scooped stone and sand out of my depths,
In their pulverized play
They ground rocks into clay
As the Palisades rose in the west.
The ice melted and water coursed through me,
From bubbling brooks and swift streams,
It crashed in cascades,
Splashed past Palisades,
‘Til into the sea it careened.
Though I now seem to stream so serenely,
Ice and fire wrestle still in my veins,
And when the salty sea’s force
Mingles with my fresh source;
When the lightning’s bright flash
And Storm King’s cold crag clash;
When my brittle ice crumbles
And the Dunderberg rumbles,
You will hear my ancient name:
Manahatta, Mother of Waters,
Manitou’s mighty daughter . . . .
I am the majestic Hudson!
Subject and Object
When you speak or write in sentences,
Make them clear and make them true,
For confusing the SUBJECT and OBJECT
Is something you are not to do!
“Merton swiftly strikes the nail”–
Of this we can be certain;
But think how painful it would be,
If it were said, “The nail strikes Merton!”
“A strong horse pulled our heavy sled
Across the snowy course”–
But we’d not have gotten anywhere
If the sled had pulled the horse!
“Because he was so bad in school
His mother spanked poor Tom;”
It would not have been proper, though,
For Tom to spank his Mom!
I could tell so many tales
(But the tales could not tell me)
Of subjects turned into objects
And objects used subjectively,
Of a world tuned topsy-turvy
When grammar is ignored,
And how, through proper sentence form,
World Order is restored.
So keep the horse before the cart–
And make the hammer hit the nail–
Be sure to think before you speak,
And you’ll speak well without fail!
Ant, Bee and Butterfly
Have you ever watched the humble ants
Cast up hillocks of dirt?
And carve out catacomb-like halls
Sequestered in the earth?
Within they form a little world,
So perfect in itself,
Where each the other serves and so
Ensouls the common wealth.
Rotting wood they turn to good,
Dead carrion make living,
While on her eggs their calm Queen broods;
Prime Mother, ever giving.
The busy bee asks not the aim
Nor purpose of his labor,
For in it he such sweetness finds
That the task itself he savors.
The bloom and bee, the bee and hive
Form a sweet trinity;
For through the bee the seed shall thrive,
And through the blossom lives the bee.
When the chrysalis seems most asleep
Or deathlike, she is weaving
On the warp and woof of her living loom
And her primal form receiving.
Then, as a golden butterfly,
Casting off the gray and cold,
She awakens, self-created,
Reborn, renewed and whole.
In the Mountains
Though dark the night, we move in light
Amidst the radiant mountain peaks;
Earth’s crystal gaze, subdued by day,
At night reflecting starlight seeks.
This rock kingdom, seemingly dumb,
To wakeful ears is sounding;
Each crag to each thunderously speaks,
‘Gainst vales each voice rebounding.
In limestone’s chill and crystal’s fire
The mountains brood o’er their abyss;
Intone in adamantine choir
Mysteries of their genesis.
The rocks, roused from long epochs’ sleep,
Riddles solve of Space and Time,
While metals, gleaming in the deeps,
O seeker, slumbering in the haze,
Awaken with the stones!
Find crystal’s flame within your gaze,
Lime’s might in blood and bone.