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Posts Tagged ‘Edward Lear’

I do feel like complaining a little and this is exactly the point of Thankful Thursday

So let’s have at it:

Last night, I went out. BY MYSELF. Yeah, me. What did I do? I went to a poetry reading held at the Eileen Fisher store in Noho (that’s Northampton to y’all who don’t reside in the Commonwealth).

Anyway, the space was lovely, all wood and white and brightly, yet soothingly, lit. Sumptuous colors and yummy textures of clothing. A spread of cheese and crackers and strawberries and little bottles of Perrier (I had 2 of those).

The reading was given by 2 local poets, Patricia Lee Lewis and Diana Gordon. I had seen the websites of each of them, but I don’t know them or their work. Now I know a little bit more. I even bought 2 books, had them signed (TO ME!).

While I don’t want to diminish the quality of the evening and of the poets’ work, because everything was truly wonderful, the thing for which I am most grateful, aside from the aforementioned just being able to go out on a date by myself, is that the second poet, Diana Gordon, finished her portion of the reading with Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat.

This is one of the earliest and most familiar pieces of writing of my life. It is like a part of me, my heart, by heart. My father gave me a few books of poetry when I was young, one an over-sized book of Edward Lear’s nonsense poems. Maybe he read the poem to me then, maybe not; I do not remember. I later lent away the book to my good friend’s daughter who was like a little sister to me and who I grew up with when I was 21 and she was 3 and my father was dying. I never saw the book again, as is the case with so many books we love and which we know are out-of-print. Even then, when I lent it out, the cover was coming away from the binding, I remember the gap and the white stitching, the blue pages at the front and back where there are no words.

When Diana was about midway into the first stanza, my eyes welled up. I do believe that in all of my years of reading this poem out loud to others—myself, my father, my two beautiful and amazing daughters at many bedtimes, this is the first time I remember anyone reading it out loud to me.

And that is why we keep trying one more day

I found this charming illustration on google images and with a little research, discovered that it is by Mary Ellsworth, from The Colorful Story Book (New York, The Saalfield Publishing Company, 1941).

This style of painting feels quite right to me for the poem. A little European, more detailed and grown-up and proper than later styles of children’s book illustrations, somewhat distancing, but simultaneously engaging, inviting the viewer to be right there on that hill in the bright day with the three of them; we are party to their wedding and so it shall ever be.

FIN

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