Friday, July 27, 2018

Bells and Grass

Poems by Walter de la Mare
illustrated by Dorothy Lanthrop

Oh lovely lovely Walter de la Mare!  I will never get tired of reading his poems and collecting his books.  

Even the introduction written by de la Mare himself is beautiful as he muses about writing and poetry, ageing, and dreams for children... 

How old, then, are the young?  And how young is it possible for the old in years to remain- without, that is, being merely immature, undergrown, or silly?  Is this in fact a question of age, of mere time?  I doubt if it is.  Even one's body seems in certain respects to be independent of the mechanical hands of a clock, and of an earth spining on in space, as we are told, through its four strange and lovely seasons, in its annual revolution round the sun.  We know very little what we mean by Time.  I have seen a baby apparently of only twenty-four hours' experience in this world that yet was not only the minute image of, but also looked even older than its grandmother.  I have seen grandmothers with eyes as guileless and youthful as a frank and happy seven-year-old's; and, clearly, with hearts to match.

The self within is still the self within, however much knowledge and experience, and whatever treasures of memory it may have acquired.  It is still the silkworm in its cocoon, whatever the quality of the silk may be.  As the years go by, we put away childish things.  We have to.  And yet what we love and delight in when we are young we may continue to love and delight in when we are old; and not much less ardently, perhaps.  So with all that is meant by heart, feelings, mind, the fancy, and the imagination.

I know too that in later life it is just (if only just) possible now and again to recover fleetingly the intese delight, the untellable joy and happiness and fear and grief and pain of our early years, of an all but forgotten childhood.

And he gives us this remarkable bit, an encouragement to writers everywhere:

To write anything solely to please someone else is rather dangerous; and particularly if it happens to be in rhyme.  To write for one's own delight and out of the sheer impulse and desire to do so is less dangerous, though one may of course keep such things to oneself!  To hope to please others with what has been so written is a wildish aspiration, but an aspiration which it should not be too difficult even to condone.

The poems are wonderful, as they always are.  I'm often including them in letters to friends or in Charlotte's lunch box.  The icing on the cake of course are the drawings by Dorothy Lanthrop included in this edition.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Julie Brinckloe 1986

It's firefly season.  We've been spotting them at the edge of our woods.  They come out just as the sun is going down and twinkle in the gloaming.
What is summer without running out after dinner, mason jar in hand and catching fireflies with the neighborhood kids?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Just Us Women

Here's a fun summer road trip book...

Jeannette Caines 1982
illustrated by Pat Cummings

Told in first person, a little girl and her Aunt Martha are "going to drive all the way to North Carolina in her new car."  Since Aunt Martha is forgetful, it's up to the narrator to remember to bring things like the maps and their fried chicken lunch packed in two shoe boxes.  They'll stop at all the farm stands and roadside fleas and monuments they want to.  Since it's "just us women" they can talk all they want and enjoy the time together just the two of them.  Maybe a bit dated, but I'm pretty fond of the illustrations and I'm all for a summer road trip with such detours!