'Little Bateese' by William Henry Drummond

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1You bad leetle boy, not moche you care
2How busy you 're kipin' your poor gran'pere
3Tryin' to stop you ev'ry day
4Chasin' de hen aroun' de hay--
5W'y don't you geev' dem a chance to lay?
6Leetle Bateese!

7Off on de fiel' you foller de plough
8Den w'en you 're tire you scare the cow
9Sickin' de dog till dey jomp the wall
10So de milk ain't good for not'ing at all--
11An' you 're only five an' a half dis fall,
12Leetle Bateese!

13Too sleepy for sayin' de prayer to-night?
14Never min' I s'pose it 'll be all right
15Say dem to-morrow--ah! dere he go!
16Fas' asleep in a minute or so--
17An' he 'll stay lak dat till de rooster crow,
18Leetle Bateese!

19Den wake us up right away toute suite
20Lookin' for somet'ing more to eat,
21Makin' me t'ink of dem long leg crane
22Soon as dey swaller, dey start again,
23I wonder your stomach don't get no pain,
24Leetle Bateese!

25But see heem now lyin' dere in bed,
26Look at de arm onderneat' hees head;
27If he grow lak dat till he 's twenty year
28I bet he 'll be stronger dan Louis Cyr
29An' beat all de voyageurs leevin' here,
30Leetle Bateese!

31Jus' feel de muscle along hees back,
32Won't geev' heem moche bodder for carry pack
33On de long portage, any size canoe,
34Dere 's not many t'ing dat boy won't do
35For he 's got double-joint on hees body too,
36Leetle Bateese!

37But leetle Bateese! please don't forget
38We rader you 're stayin' de small boy yet,
39So chase de chicken an' mak' dem scare
40An' do w'at you lak wit' your ole gran'pere
41For w'en you 're beeg feller he won't be dere--
42Leetle Bateese!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Little Bateese: A Classic Portrait of Childhood Innocence

When it comes to capturing the essence of childhood innocence and wonder, few poems are as beloved as William Henry Drummond's "Little Bateese." Originally published in 1899, this classic piece of Canadian literature has since become a staple of elementary school classrooms and poetry collections alike.

But what is it about "Little Bateese" that has made it endure for over a century? In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will examine the themes, imagery, and language of the poem to understand what makes it such a timeless treasure.


At its core, "Little Bateese" is about the simple joys of childhood. It tells the story of a young boy named Bateese who spends his days playing in the woods and fields, fishing in the river, and dreaming of a bright future filled with adventure and success.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its celebration of nature. Bateese is at home in the woods and fields, where he can roam free and explore to his heart's content. He is never happier than when he is surrounded by the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

Another key theme of the poem is the power of imagination. Bateese is not content to simply observe the world around him – he wants to be a part of it, to explore it, and to create his own adventures. This spirit of curiosity and creativity is what drives him forward, even when he faces setbacks and challenges.

Finally, "Little Bateese" is a reminder of the importance of community. Bateese may be a solitary figure at times, but he is also part of a larger network of family and friends who support and encourage him. Whether he is fishing with his grandfather or dreaming of becoming a great explorer with his siblings, Bateese is never alone in his quest for adventure and success.


One of the most striking aspects of "Little Bateese" is the vivid imagery that Drummond uses to bring the poem to life. From the opening lines, we are transported to a world of natural beauty and wonder:

Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow, Filling the sky and the earth below; Over the housetops, over the street, Over the heads of the people you meet.

Here, Drummond paints a picture of a winter wonderland, where the snow blankets everything in sight and creates a world of pure white magic. This imagery is not just beautiful – it is also significant, as it sets the stage for the rest of the poem and establishes Bateese's love of the natural world.

Throughout the poem, Drummond uses sensory details to create a rich, immersive world for the reader. We can smell the pine trees and feel the cold river water on our skin as Bateese goes fishing, and we can taste the butter and molasses on our tongues as we read about his family's homemade treats. This attention to detail makes the poem come alive, and invites us to become fully absorbed in Bateese's world.


Finally, "Little Bateese" is a masterclass in the use of language. From the playful rhymes and rhythms of the opening lines to the poignant final stanza, Drummond's words are carefully chosen to convey a sense of joy, wonder, and innocence.

One of the most striking aspects of the language in "Little Bateese" is the use of dialect. Drummond was a francophone from Ireland who spoke both English and French, and he was known for his ability to capture the unique rhythms and cadences of Quebec French. In "Little Bateese," he uses a mix of French and English words and phrases to create a distinctive voice for the young boy at the heart of the poem. This dialect not only adds to the authenticity of the piece, but also gives it a sense of place and time.

Another key aspect of the language in "Little Bateese" is its simplicity. This is not a poem filled with complex metaphors or convoluted syntax – it is a straightforward celebration of childhood innocence and joy. The words are chosen for their clarity and accessibility, making the poem accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds.


In conclusion, "Little Bateese" is a classic piece of Canadian literature that has endured for over a century thanks to its celebration of childhood innocence, its vivid imagery, and its masterful use of language. Through its depiction of a young boy's love of nature, imagination, and community, the poem reminds us of the simple joys that make life worth living. Whether we are reading it for the first time or revisiting it after many years, "Little Bateese" is a timeless treasure that is sure to delight and inspire.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Little Bateese: A Classic Poem by William Henry Drummond

If you are a fan of Canadian literature, then you must have come across the classic poem, Little Bateese. Written by William Henry Drummond, this poem has been a favorite of many for over a century. It tells the story of a young French-Canadian boy named Bateese and his mischievous adventures in the countryside. In this article, we will take a closer look at this beloved poem and explore its themes, structure, and language.


William Henry Drummond was a Canadian poet and physician who lived from 1854 to 1907. He was born in Ireland but moved to Canada at a young age. Drummond was known for his use of French-Canadian dialect in his poetry, which he learned from his patients during his medical practice. Little Bateese was first published in 1899 in his collection of poems, The Habitant and Other French-Canadian Poems.


One of the main themes of Little Bateese is the innocence and playfulness of childhood. Bateese is portrayed as a mischievous but lovable character who enjoys playing pranks on his family and friends. He is not malicious in his actions but rather seeks to have fun and entertain himself. This theme is evident in the opening lines of the poem:

"Little Bateese come down de street, An' laugh an' say, "Bonjour," to me; He's got a rittle bird he's feex So busy, but he's got no breex."

Another theme of the poem is the importance of family and community. Bateese's family and neighbors are portrayed as a close-knit group who look out for each other. They are quick to forgive Bateese's mischievous behavior and even join in on the fun. This is evident in the following lines:

"An' den he's got a leetle feex For mak' hees mudder laugh, I guess; He's tak' de cat an' tie her neck Wit' gardein-yarn, an' off he's speck."


Little Bateese is written in rhyming couplets, with each stanza consisting of two lines. The poem has a simple and straightforward structure, which adds to its charm and accessibility. The use of rhyme and repetition also makes the poem easy to remember and recite. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which tells a different part of Bateese's story.


One of the most distinctive features of Little Bateese is its use of French-Canadian dialect. Drummond was known for his ability to capture the unique language and culture of the French-Canadian people in his poetry. This is evident in the following lines:

"An' den he's got a leetle feex For mak' hees mudder laugh, I guess; He's tak' de cat an' tie her neck Wit' gardein-yarn, an' off he's speck."

The use of dialect adds to the authenticity and charm of the poem, and helps to transport the reader to the rural Quebec countryside where Bateese lived.


Little Bateese is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. Its themes of childhood innocence, family, and community are universal and timeless. The poem's simple structure and use of dialect make it accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. William Henry Drummond's ability to capture the unique language and culture of the French-Canadian people in his poetry is a testament to his skill as a writer. Little Bateese is a beloved poem that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

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