A Child Prodigy: Nathalia Crane by Natalia Zambrotta

Nathalia Crane was born on 11 August 1913, in Brooklyn, New York. She was a poet and novelist who became famous as a child prodigy after the publication of her first book of poetry “The Janitor’s Boy and Other Poems” when she was only 10 years old. The collection was based on romance and influenced by Emily Dickinson
The previous year she had already published some poems in The New York Sun: the newspaper was unaware that they had been written by a child

Time magazine referred to her as “The Baby Browning of Brooklyn”.
After publishing some further work she became a professor of English at San Diego State University. and a political activist.

She died in 1998, in San Diego, California.


“The Janitor’s Boy” is about the girlish dream of escaping to a desert island with the red-haired boy living in her block of flats.

Oh I’m in love with the janitor’s boy,
And the janitor’s boy loves me;
He’s going to hunt for a desert isle
In our geography.
A desert isle with spicy trees
Somewhere near Sheepshead Bay;
A right nice place, just fit for two
Where we can live alway.
Oh I’m in love with the janitor’s boy,
He’s busy as he can be;
And down in the cellar he’s making a raft
Out of an old settee.
He’ll carry me off, I know that he will,
For his hair is exceedingly red;
And the only thing that occurs to me
Is to dutifully shiver in bed.
The day that we sail, I shall leave this brief note,
For my parents I hate to annoy:
“I have flown away to an isle in the bay
With the janitor’s red-haired boy.

Natalie Merchant, from her album “Leave Your Sleep

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