Tag Archives: children’s literature

The sweetness of lines that endure and endear

My newspaper tells me that, today, 15 October, is Virgil’s birthday. He was born in 70 BC. To quote from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/virgil Publius Vergilius Maro was a classical Roman poet, best known for three major works—the Bucolics (or Eclogues), the Georgics, and the Aeneid—although several minor poems are also attributed to him. The son of a farmer in northern Italy, Virgil came to be regarded as one of Rome’s greatest poets; his Aeneid as Rome’s national epic.”

My  poetry book “Poem for the Day”, edited by Nicholas Albery,  tells me that, today, 15 October, is the day that English poet Robert Herrick died in 1674.  Robert Herrick was well-versed ( yes well-versed !) in the ancient authors, and like Virgil, many of his poems are pastoral or bucolic.  He also believed that he would  “triumph over “Times trans-shifting” and live beyond death through his verses” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-herrick

One of Herrick’s poems which lives on is Delight in Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn* about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher:
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly:
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
 
(* a lawn is a light scarf)
 
 
 
I think this poem is delightful. It reminds me, for the lace and the
 
petticoats, rather than any disorder, of my favourite portrait paintings by Ingres.

It  also takes me to the abundant and gorgeous

 
disarray of my garden.
 
This morning, I found the lily of the valley, like ‘erring lace’, here
 
and there, threaded through the flowers and greenery along the garden
 
path.
 
Lily of the Valley is another of my favourite plants.
 
It was my maternal grandmother’s favourite flower, and the Lily of the
 
Valley in my garden was given to me by her eldest daughter, my aunt.
Like erring lace

Like erring lace

I look forward to its appearance, every year, in early October, and ,more often than not, it arrives in time to help me  celebrate the October birthdays of my aunt and my grandmother 🙂  Clever little plants!

Another poet, sometimes pastoral,  is Eleanor Farjeon, most widely known for her poem/hymn, A Morning Song, Morning Has Broken.

In 1965, the year of  Eleanor Farjeon’s  death, a friend of my paternal grandmother gave me  Farjeon’s “The Children’s Bells”, ( first  published in 1957 ). It is a book of verse for children but contains this small poem, titled Sweet Robin Herrick (born 20 August 1591).  Although some of Herrick’s poems have a wantonness that  might be considered inappropriate for a child, Eleanor Farjeon obviously thought  him too important a poet to leave out from a child’s literary education!

This day Robin Herrick

Was born in Cheapside,

His father he laughed

And his mother she cried,

So to sweet Robin Herrick

‘Twas given to spy The tear in the marigold’s Laughing eye.”

I have no marigolds at this time of year, so the best I can do, to  perpetuate  this  enduring and wonderful  poetic lineage, is  to show some photos of  the wayward, wanton disorderly  poesie of my garden

Floral Notes: Lily of the Valley symbolises the return of happiness. It is the national flower of Finland and the flower of May in the Northern Hemisphere. And its delicate scent makes it a lovely addition to a small floral bouquet on my kitchen window sill. (It was also in Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet 🙂 )

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A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19791#sthash.zCCuwSq6.dpuf

Backyard learnings

When I was very young, I went to kindergarten (pre-school) in my own back yard; my  very own backyard on the tropical island of Fiji. The kindergarten was owned by my mother who was also the sole teacher. It was a wonderful little school and the best part of it was that I didn’t have to leave it to go home. It was home, and I could play there all day and every day for as long as I wanted. It was a very pleasant introduction to education.

Backyard Kindy

Backyard Kindy

That’s me at the top of the slide! At least I think it is!

Sand and sun and stories

Sand and sun and stories

My father made most of the equipment including the much loved cars made from packing boxes.

As the only kindergarten in town, (and possibly the entire Colony of Fiji), there was always a waiting list for my mother’s school. She hated turning away children  but there was a limit to the number of little ones she could handle on her own. The fees charged were miniscule, token, in fact, because her training and background were in the old New Zealand  tradition of free education for kindergarten children. (Plus, I think the colonial authorities may have had some rules about  private enterprise on colonial property, which our house was! ) She took that tradition with her from New Zealand to Fiji, and stood by it, throughout her working life as a teacher/school owner/manager.

We had a great selection of books at my mother’s kindy. I still have many of them but here are two favourites of mine.

One of the Nine Stories has fallen out of favour but the remaining eight are still popular with today’s children, as far as I know.

So, in this simple setting, with these little books, and others like them, my interest in literature, in reading, took its first steps.

Today, I am reading on my laptop via  Project Gutenberg Australia “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” by E.M Delafield. I feel that this passage was written for me:

‘January 14th.–I have occasion to observe, not for the first time, how extraordinarily plain a cold can make one look, affecting hair, complexion, and features generally, besides nose and upper lip. Cook assures me that colds always run through the house and that she herself has been suffering from sore throat for weeks, but is never one to make a fuss. (Query: Is this meant to imply that similar fortitude should be, but is not, displayed by me?) Mademoiselle says she hopes children will not catch my cold, but that both sneezed this morning. I run short of handkerchiefs.

January 16th.–We all run short of handkerchiefs.’

By my bedside table, for evening reading, I have “Toujours Provence” by Peter Mayle.  For any time reading, I have “Poem for the Day’ edited by Nicholas Albery and “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. For idle moments, I have the newspaper where I read that the Humane Society of the United States has endorsed the launch of DogTV, a round the clock digital cable channel, specifically programmed for your dog.  I have not passed on this news to my little friend, Jack, but, then, he is  content to soothe his ears with the voices from  Radio New Zealand (http://www.radionz.co.nz/). I do hope, however,  he closed his ears when the announcer said that our Parliament has just passed  legislation to regulate the sale of legal highs, (party pills and synthetic cannabis).  Sadly, this legislation which  requires manufacturers to prove their products are safe for human use, before they can be sold in New Zealand,  will certainly  mean a continuation of unnecessary animal testing . I can’t help thinking that many of us  would do well to return to our kindergarten roots. We would do well to  remember how much pleasure and fun and wonderful highs we got from our very first books, featuring members of the animal kingdom.

Here is another of my favourite books that I first met in the kindergarten in my very own backyard.

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If you need a good book…..

In my previous post, I expressed the fanciful notion that my little dog showed a vague resemblance to a Tibetan Snow Lion. Some of you may have thought, “Huh oh, Gallivanta’s gone barking mad.” Or, at the very least, inhaled too much of her precious, essential oil of rosemary.  However, let me reassure you that my flights of fancy were most likely the result of a rekindled imagination, courtesy of a very cute little chap, called Fred. Not just any old Fred, but FEARLESS FRED.

Here he is. I think he is adorable; from the tip of his colander helmet to the toes of his red rubber boots.  Fearless Fred Fearless Fred has a trusty mate, of the canine variety, who doubles as a trusty steed to Fred’s knight in shining armour. Together they go hunting for a dragon, and a dragon, of sorts, is duly encountered. And, then, it is home in time for tea; a tea of that quintessential New Zealand meal; fish and chips.

Fearless Fred , with its wonderful mix of imagination and reality and humour, is the creation of writer and fellow blogger, Maureen Sudlow. The delightful and whimsical illustrations are by Kat Quin Merewether. If you are looking for a book that will appeal to adult and child alike, look no further than this little gem. Ask for it at your bookstore, or suggest to your favourite librarian that your local library needs a copy on its bookshelves.  You can also find Fearless Fred at this link (http://kiwis-soar.com/fearless-fred/) and learn more about Maureen’s day at the library with Fearless Fred at this link( http://kiwis-soar.com/2013/05/01/freds-debut/.) The kids, in their Fearless Fred armour, and Maureen look as though they are having a great time.

Maureen’s  book was a Finalist in the Storylines Joy Cowley Award.  Joy Cowley (http://www.joycowley.com/) is a renowned New Zealand author of children’s’ and adults’ books. She is also known  internationally,  especially in the education sector for her excellent and enjoyable educational readers.

Thank you, Maureen, for adding to our rich heritage of children’s literature. Fearless Fred is placed next to me as I blog. He makes me smile. I wonder what imaginative adventures he will take me on next.

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