A Poem for a Thursday #57

Faith Shearin is an American writer who has published five volumes of poetry. She won the May Swenson Award. I didn't find much information about her but I like this poem.

They are taking so many things with them:
their sewing machines and fine china,

their ability to fold a newspaper
with one hand and swat a fly.

They are taking their rotary telephones,
and fat televisions, and knitting needles,

their cast iron frying pans, and Tupperware.
They are packing away the picnics

and perambulators, the wagons
and church socials. They are wrapped in

lipstick and big band music, dressed
in recipes. Buried with them:  bathtubs

with feet, front porches, dogs without leashes.
These are the people who raised me

and now I am left behind in 
a world without paper letters,

a place where the phone
has grown as eager as a weed.

I am going to miss their attics,
their ordinary coffee, their chicken

fried in lard. I would give anything 
to be ten again, up late with them

in that cottage by the river, buying
Marvin Gardens and passing go,

collecting two hundred dollars. 

My Grandparent's Generation
Faith Shearin

Brona has shared a poem this week.

On Being a Bad Mom

When my daughter left for the bus this morning at 6:20 it was 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius). She was wearing a sweatshirt. And her hair was wet. I am pretty sure that makes me a bad mother.

 Have any of you ever tried to convince a 14-year-old girl to wear something she does not want to wear? It is an exercise in futility and not the way I felt like starting my morning. I shrugged my shoulders and let her go. She was going to be cold but maybe, just maybe, if she was cold enough she would wear a coat the next time. (Probably not, but I live in hope.) The bus came about two minutes later and we both went on with our days but it got me thinking.

Sometimes being a bad mother is the best way to be a good mother. Whether or not to wear a coat on a cold morning is not the biggest issue in the world but learning to make decisions and deal with the consequences is. We spend our children's early lives making decisions for them. We decide what they should eat, what time they should go to bed, and yes, what they should wear. We decide because trusting a two-year-old with those decisions is just plain foolish. However, sometimes, as parents, it can be hard to stop making the decisions. After all, we do usually know better. We see the mistakes coming and we just want to protect our kids. But there comes a time when we have to stop micromanaging our children's lives and allow them to manage them.

It is hard. Not because I want to continue making all those decisions but because habits are hard to break. I have been a decision-making mom for 19 years. I can frequently do it better, reach conclusions faster, and analyze the situation more accurately than my kids can. That is what life experience gives you. But what I am trying to give my kids is their own life experience.

I want them to be strong. I want them to make their own decisions. I want them to take responsibility for those decisions. I want them to do the scary things. I want them to push themselves.

I want them to wear coats when it is cold.

I am a bad mom because it is the best way I know to be a good mom.

A Poem for a Thursday #56

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash
There is one simple criterion for me to choose a poem. Does it make enough of an impression for me to go back and read it again? And maybe again. This poem did that. I read it three times in a row.

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and the scratched records...
Since there is no place large enough 
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit 
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

So Much Happiness
Naomi Shihab Nye

Brona has shared an absolutely lovely poem this week.

Quips and Quotes

Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

It is late and I am tired. I can't concentrate on the book I am reading. It is about the flying bombs of WWII. It doesn't necessarily sound very interesting but, I assure you, it is. However, you can't skim read it when you are tired. Instead, I have been puttering around on Goodreads looking at lists of quotes. I am always curious about what catches other people's eyes when they are reading. Besides, it is a good way to get a taste of a writer's style. Since I keep coming across quotes that I want to share with someone I am going to share them here with all of you. The first one is from Stephen King.

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them-words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear. 

 I like this from Sylvia Plath. It is from her journals and now I want to read them. This is a good life goal right here.

Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.

Here is another one about writing. It is from Annie Proulx.

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.  

This past weekend my husband and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary which is a bit mind-boggling. Twenty-nine years. How did that happen? Thank goodness we still like each other. So, in honor of our anniversary here are a few quotes about marriage. The first one if from Anne Shirley in Anne of the Island. I love Anne.

I wouldn't want to marry anyone who was wicked, but I think I'd like it if he could be wicked and wasn't.  

Anne Lamott said this:

A good marriage is where both people feel like they are getting the better end of the deal. 

I like this quote from Erma Bombeck about raising children. I couldn't agree more.

I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom and what time you would get home. I loved you enough to insist you buy a bike with your own money even though we could afford it. I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your friend was a creep. I loved you enough to make you return a Milky Way with a bite out of it to the drugstore and confess, "I stole this." I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes. I loved you enough to say, "Yes, you can to to Disney World on Mother's Day." I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, disgust, and tears in my eyes. I loved you enough not to make excuses for your lack of respect or your bad manners. I loved you enough to admit that I was wrong and ask for your forgiveness. I loved you enough to ignore what every other mother did or said. I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt and fail. I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your own actions at age 6, 10, or 16. I loved you enough to figure you would lie about the party being chaperoned but forgave you for it-after discovering I was right. I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, not what I wanted you to be. But, most of all, I loved you enough to say no when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all.  

And one final quote from Erma Bombeck because I couldn't agree more. This is the principle upon which I have based much of my life.

When the going gets tough, the tough make cookies. 

I think I might be making cookies tomorrow.

A Poem for a Thursday #55

Photo by Liam Charmer on Unsplash

I am not sure there is anything Maya Angelou didn't do. She was a poet, singer, and civil rights activist. She wrote for plays, movies, and television. Angelou received many awards and more than fifty honorary degrees. She recited one of her poems at the first inauguration of Bill Clinton. It is possible that she is best known for her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her books "center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel." Many viewed her poetry as most interesting when she recited it herself. Simply reading it gives a good feel for her distinctive voice but if you want to hear her for yourself YouTube has many videos of her.

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants 
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to 
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold 

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed. 

When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

Brona has shared a poem this week. You can read it here.

A Poem for a Thursday #54

Photo by Vlad Marisescu on Unsplash

Vita Sackville-West was an English poet, novelist, and garden designer. She wrote more than a dozen poetry collections and thirteen novels. She designed the gardens for Sissinghurst Castle which is one of the most famous gardens in England. I would love to visit it one of these days.

She was wearing the coral taffeta trousers
Someone had brought her from Ispahan,
And the little gold coat with pomegranate blossoms,
And the coral-hafted feather fan;
But she ran down a Kentish lane in the moonlight,
And skipped in the pool of the moon as she ran.

She cared not a rap for all the big planets,
For Betelgeuse or Aldebaran,
And all the big planets cared nothing for her,
That small important charlatan;
But she climbed on a Kentish stile in the moonlight,
And laughed at the sky through the sticks of her fan.

Full Moon
Vita Sackville-West

Old Sturbridge Village

I have written about Old Sturbridge Village many times before. In fact, I have written about it so often that when we decided to visit this weekend I didn't even bring my camera because I thought you didn't need another post about it. That didn't work. I had only been there a few minutes when I found myself snapping pictures on my phone. Sturbridge Village is one of my favorite places so, I suppose, I can never have too many photos or write too many blog posts about it.

I love the peace and quiet. I love the feeling of walking into another world. I love watching my teenage daughter revert to a 7-year-old with a stick of root beer candy in her mouth and a determination to revisit all her favorite spots.

We wandered and chatted and drank hot apple cider. We had nothing we had to do and nowhere we had to be. It was lovely.

Sometimes what we need is not high adventure and new experiences but, instead, a return to the tried and true experiences of our past. We need the security of going somewhere where we know what to expect and what to do. Sometimes lack of excitement is the best thing of all.

We all left feeling a bit calmer, a bit happier, and as if we had, for a little while, taken a step away from problems and stresses.

My previous posts about Old Sturbridge Village are here, here, and here. We renewed our membership for another year so I think there is a good chance that next spring there will be yet another post about the Village complete with photos of lambs and other baby animals. What can I say. It makes me happy.

A Poem for a Thursday #53

Photo by Nashad Abdu on Unsplash
I do love tea. It is comforting, refreshing, soothing, stress-relieving, and just plain delicious. In this poem, the love for tea and the love for a person are combined.

I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid streams in your china cup.

Or when you're away, or at work,
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.

I like the questions - sugar? - milk? -
and the answers I don't know by heart, yet
for I see your soul in your eyes and I forget.

Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea's names. Which tea would you like? I say
but it's any tea for you, please, any time of day,

as the women harvest the slopes
for the sweetest leaves, on Mount Wu-Yi,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea. 

Carol AnnDuffy

One Day at a Time

Life is a little rough these days. We will get through it but it isn't a great deal of fun. Why do stressful things always occur in bunches? The only thing to do is to get through one day at a time and the best way to do that is to get through one book at a time. When I am stressed I end up doing a lot of rereading. It is undemanding. I am not going to be suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with the death of my favorite character. It is a bit like a visit with old friends.

Lately, I have been rereading Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. They are authors I always go back to. I have read their books again and again. I wish I started tracking my reading years ago so I knew just how many times I have read their books. Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice; all of them are comforting books. They are books I can pick up and open at any chapter and sink into the story.

 Frequently, it seems people feel we should be reading books to be informed, to expand our horizons, to read about people different than ourselves. All of those things are valid. However, sometimes I just want to read books to escape. I want to return to a familiar world. I don't want to confront social issues or address the ills of the world. I want to retreat to a world where the girl solves the mystery, where the guy gets the girl, where the family lives happily ever after.

Right now, I want to live one day at a time with a pile of books, favorite books, by my side.

A Poem for a Thursday #52

Photo by Ian Cumming on Unsplash
I started "A Poem for a Thursday" one year ago. I've read a lot of poems in the last year. I've spent a lot of time browsing my way through books of poetry and wandering through the internet looking for words that catch my imagination. My horizons have definitely been broadened. Sometimes, however, I just want to return again and again to a poet that I have fallen in love with. This week that is what I am doing. I have chosen poems by Mary Oliver many times and I am sure I will choose her poems often in the future. This is one of her more famous poems but I love it and I love what it says.

I wrote this post and then realized I used a Mary Oliver poem a couple of weeks ago. What can I say, I seem to like everything she writes.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things. 

Wild Geese
Mary Oliver

An Apple a Day

Few things taste as good as an apple you have plucked from the tree yourself. It is best eaten while wandering through the orchard with friends. Life is even better if the friends have a three-year-old who is thrilled with everything. Even the teenagers got over-excited and ran around madly filling bags to overflowing with all different varieties of apples. I see apple pie, apple crisp, apple bread, and applesauce in our futures.

There is something so satisfying about something as simple as apple picking. I don't know why. It isn't as if we grew the apples but you watch your bag fill up, you chat with friends, you wander down the rows of trees and watch kids having fun. It is basic in the best sense of the word; "forming an essential foundation, fundamental." Isn't that what we all need in life-food, fun, friends?

 Unfortunately, you don't get any photos of the cute three-year-old since her parents haven't asked for her to be plastered all over the internet. However, I offer a few photos of Celia instead. Just as cute but a bit older.

There was also a cutting garden where you could pick your own flowers. I didn't buy any but one of my friends did. The flowers were so pretty even at the tail end of the season.

Maybe for us in this modern world, it isn't the apple a day that keeps the doctor away. Maybe it is picking the apples that benefits us. We all need to escape from stress sometimes. I recommend a wander through an apple orchard. Enjoy the quiet, the scent of autumn and apples, and the time with friends. May you find a bit of peace in a hectic life. That alone should help keep the doctor away.

Then go home and bake a pie because no one said your apple a day couldn't be encased in pie crust and dusted with cinnamon.

A Poem for a Thursday #51

Today's poem is pure nonsense written by Lewis Carroll. Sometimes life just needs a little nonsense. This poem is best read aloud, at the top of your voice, while standing on your feet. Please use extravagant gestures and enjoy every moment of it.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  the frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought,-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with his head
  He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
  He chortled in his joy.

"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe. 

Lewis Carroll

A Poem for a Thursday #50

Today's poem is another one by Mary Oliver just because I like it. Sometimes I look for poets and poems that are new to me and sometimes I go back to ones that have become favorites. I don't think I have read a poem of Mary Oliver's that I haven't liked.

Don't you imagine the leaves dream now
   how comfortable it will be to touch 
the earth instead of the
   nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
   the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for

the birds that will come-six, a dozen-to sleep
   inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
   the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond 
   stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
   its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
   the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way. 

Song for Autumn
Mary Oliver

Reese has a Robert Frost poem this week.

Crafty Things//A Refinished Table

I finally did it. I refinished my kitchen table and covered it in book pages. It isn't perfect and if I did it again there are things I would change but, all in all, I am very happy with it.

My table had a very damaged surface so something had to be done with it. I thought about just painting it but then I came across a tutorial online with gorgeous photos of a table covered in pages. I fell in love. I have quite a few books that have fallen apart and I have been using them for various crafts. I won't deliberately destroy a book but ones that disintegrated on their own are fair game. I used On the Banks of Plum Creek because I love the illustrations and the book is a huge part of my reading history.

It is surprisingly hard to take a photo of the finished product. It actually looks nicer in real life. I am hoping it holds up well. I used two cans of spray polyurethane in the hopes of making it very water-resistant. We shall see. I still need to spray paint the chairs so they match the table legs but I will get around to that eventually. The difference in color is barely noticeable anyway.

My husband is pleased I am happy with it, my daughter has decided she likes it, and my son is driven crazy by it. He says if I had to cover the table in book pages couldn't I at least put them in order and neatly next to each other so it can be read. The randomness of it bothers him.  I said it looks more artistic this way but he isn't convinced.

I have a lot of other books that have fallen apart. Does anyone have any other craft suggestions for me?

A Poem for a Thursday #49

Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash
Carl Dennis is an American poet who has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He writes of  "quotidian, middle-class life, but beneath the modest, reasonably lighted surfaces of the poems lie unexpected possibilities that create contrast and vibrancy."

Today as we walk in Paris I promise to focus
More on the sights before us than on the woman
We noticed yesterday in the photograph at the print shop,
The slender brunette who looked like  you
As she posed with a violin case by a horse-drawn omnibus
Near the Luxembourg Gardens. Today I won't linger long
On the obvious point that her name is as lost to history
As the name of the graveyard where her bones
Have been crumbling to dust for over a century.
The streets we're to wander will shine more brightly
Now that it's clear the day of her death
Is of little importance compared to the moment
Caught in the photograph as she makes her way
Through afternoon light like this toward the Seine,
Or compared to our walk as we pass the Gardens.
The cold rain that fell this morning has given way to sunshine.
The gleaming puddles reflect our mood
Just as they reflected hers as she stepped around them
Smiling to herself, happy that her audition
Went well this morning. After practicing scales
For years in a village whose name isn't recorded,
She can study in Paris with one of the masters
And serve the music according to laws more rigorous
Than any passed by the grand assemblies of Europe,
Laws I hope she always tried to obey. 
No way of telling now how close her life 
Came to the life she hoped for as she rambled,
On the day of the photograph, along the quay.
And why do I need to know it when she herself,
If offered a chance to peruse the book of the future,
Would likely shake her head no and turn away.
She wants to focus on the afternoon almost gone
As we want to focus now on breathing and savoring
While we stand on the bridge she stood on to watch
The steamers push against the current or ease down.
This flickering light on the water as boats pass by
Is the flow that many painters have tried to capture
Without holding too still. By the time these boats arrive
Far off in the provinces and give up their cargoes,
Who knows where the flow may have carried us?
But to think now of our leaving is to wrong the moment.
We have to be wholly here as she was
If we want the city that welcomed her
To welcome us as students trained in her school
To enjoy the music as much as she did
When she didn't grieve that she couldn't stay

In Paris
Carl Dennis

Brona has shared a poem by Wislawa Szymborska this week and Reese has one by Auden.

Book Purchases

My daughter has discovered a love for thrift shopping. She spent years rolling her eyes at my secondhand purchases and then suddenly decided thrift stores were full of cool, vintage things.  I am pretty sure a subreddit is responsible for her change of mind. There is absolutely no chance she suddenly realized her mom was right all along. Last Saturday she asked to go to Savers to look for vintage clothes. I was happy to oblige even though few things will make you feel as old as realizing that the "vintage" clothes your 14-year-old daughter is looking for are the very same clothes you wore in your teenage years. I know all clothing styles eventually cycle back but it is odd to see the 1980s returning. We both had fun trying on all kinds of random clothing items, and she decided to buy one very 1980s sweater, and then we went and browsed the book rack.

I bought a few books. I don't usually do too well finding books at this Savers but someone with similar reading taste to me must have just donated some books and I hit the jackpot. I found two British Library Crime Classics. I almost never come across those. I practically started jumping up and down in excitement. I am sure my daughter would have loved that. Parents are so embarrassing. I also found two more books with very pretty covers. They obviously came from the U.K. since the price on the back is in pounds. I have read Cold Comfort Farm but I didn't know this book existed. The Edmund Crispin book is familiar but I don't think I have ever read it.

I also bought a copy of War and Peace. It was never a book that appealed greatly to me but then Hamlette at The Edge of the Precipice wrote a review that got me interested. Maybe I will get around to it during the winter. The Georgette Heyer is because I am trying to complete my collection. I might actually own this somewhere but I can't be bothered to look right now. My daughter bought a couple of Redwall books and we picked up a Star Wars book for my son.

I also had a few books show up in the mail. The Mignon Eberhart is because I can never have too much vintage romantic suspense in my life. The book of essays about Jane Austen was recommended by Girl With Her Head in a Book. I can't find the specific post but her whole blog is very good. Go read it if you don't already. I bought In Search of London because I am slowly working my way through H. V. Morton's books. I greatly enjoy his travels around the U.K. I wrote a post about one of his other books here.

I think my daughter's new interest in thrifting might be bad for my book purchases-or good, depending on how you look at it.

This was my other purchase at Savers. Ignore the fact that the mirror isn't clean and the photo is pretty bad. My grandmother had a mirror very similar to this and I always loved it so when I saw this I had to buy it. I have no idea where I am going to hang it but it is still making me very happy.

A Poem for a Thursday #48

Photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash
Our neighbor got a dog. It barks. It barks a lot. Last night it barked for 95 minutes straight; yes, I timed it. We have tried talking to her and she just got angry with us. We have tried contacting animal control and they just ignored us.

I am ready to move. If anyone has a little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere we can rent that would be great. It has to have no neighbors. Though my husband says we could build a house in the Sahara Desert and someone would buy the next dune and move in with a yapping dog. Probably true.

Billy Collins wrote a poem about a barking dog. Here it is.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking.

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius. 

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House
Billy Collins

Reese is sharing a Dorothy Parker poem today.

Rereadings by Anne Fadiman

I love Anne Fadiman's writing. Her love of books spills out from the page and she frequently puts into words the things I have just thought. I am slowly working my way through Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love and while it does not have as much of her writing as I would like it is still very enjoyable. I particularly liked her introduction where she talked about reading a beloved book of her childhood aloud to her son.

Reading a favorite book to your child is one of the most pleasurable forms of rereading, provided the child's enthusiasm is equal to yours and thus gratifyingly validates your literary taste, your parental competence, and your own former self. Henry loved The Horse and His Boy, the tale of two children and two talking horses who gallop across an obstacle-fraught desert in hopes of averting the downfall of an imperiled kingdom that lies to the north. It's the most suspensful of the Narnia books, and Henry, who was at that poignant age when parents are still welcome at bedtime but glimpse their banishment on the horizon, begged me each night not to turn out the light just yet:  how about another page, and then how about another paragraph, and then, come on, how about just one more sentence? There was only one problem with this idyllic picture. As I read the book to Henry, I was thinking to myself that C.S. Lewis, not to put too fine a point on it, was a racist and sexist pig. 

What does one do when your much-loved book does not fit in with your grown-up, current-day values? How do you present it to your child? Fadiman started discussing the book with her son and this is what happened.

Henry shot me the sort of look he might have used had I dumped a pint of vinegar into a bowl of chocolate ice cream. And who could blame him? He didn't want to analyze, criticize, evaluate, or explicate the book. He didn't want to size it up or slow it down. He wanted exactly what I had wanted at eight; to find out if Shasta and Aravis would get to Archenland in time to warn King Lune that his castle was about to be attacked by evil Prince Rabadash and two hundred Calormene horsemen. "Mommy," he said fiercly, "can you just read?" 

Henry, like many children, immersed himself in the action, the adventure, the sheer excitement of the story. But when we reread we see things we missed before. Does that always change our love of the book? I'll let Fadiman answer.

Still, C.S. Lewis treated girls and Calormenes as inferiors, and I could not get that out of my mind. For a while, the knowledge of his small-mindedness wrestled uneasily with the pleasure I took in his book. By the time I closed the last page, however, I found that the pleasure, without conscious instruction from me though doubtless with some abetment by Henry, had clearly gotten the upper hand. The book's flaws were serious but the connection was too strong to sever. 
And why shouldn't it be? The same thing happens with our parents. They start out as gods, and then we learn that they committed adultery, or drank too much, or cheated on their taxes, or maybe they just looked awkward on the dance floor or went on too long when they told a story. But do we stop loving them?

 I have only read a couple of the other essays in the book and they are very good but I do wish I had an entire book of Fadiman's writing. If you haven't read Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader then go find a copy right now. It is a joy and a pleasure. I wrote a post about it here.

A Poem for a Thursday #47

Photo by Stéphane Juban on Unsplash

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet who lived from 1865-1939. Yeats was very involved in politics and was appointed a senator of the Irish Free State in 1922. His poetry frequently reflected his pessimistic attitude toward the state of politics in his country. Yeats was also a playwright and he was one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Yeats won the Nobel Prize in 1923.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 

When You Are Old
William Butler Yeats

Reese is sharing a poem on her blog, Typings.

A Poem for a Thursday #46

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) "achieved a level of national and international prominence previously unequaled in the literary history of the United States." What American schoolchild has not read "Paul Revere's Ride" or "Hiawatha"? Longfellow also gave us this gem:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
             When she was good,
             She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

No, that is not your poem for today. Longfellow was one of the few American writers to be honored in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. Longfellow was viewed as "a champion of poetry in an otherwise prosaic society" and he provided encouragement to other poets including Emily Dickinson. His narrative style poems are out of favor these days and, as readers looked for more complexities in their reading, he fell out of popularity. It is a pity because there is something very appealing about much of his work. It may frequently be sentimental and old-fashioned but it is also very readable.

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
       And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
but the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
       And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
      And the tide rises, the tide falls. 

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here is the poem Reese at Typings shared this week and here is one from Jennifer at Pastry & Purls.

A Day Out//Harkness Memorial State Park

Summer is almost over. Soon the days will be getting cooler and school will be back in session. One more day of walking a beach, collecting sea glass, and listening to the waves seemed necessary. We went to Harkness Memorial Park in Waterford, CT. It is a park we have visited many times over the years but we never tire of it. The park has gardens, a mansion, and a beach on Long Island Sound. No swimming is allowed on the beach but that was fine with us. We were happy to putter around taking photos and paddling in the waves.

We didn't visit all the gardens because Celia was very anxious to get down to the beach. A Tuesday morning is not exactly a prime beach visiting day so we had it pretty much to ourselves. There were a few mothers with their small children happily building sandcastles, some older couples ambling down the shore, and a small group of artists very involved in painting the ocean view but that was it. We were free to imagine that the mansion was ours and we had simply wandered down for a gentle stroll before lunch.

There is something so soothing about a beach. The rhythmic sound of the crashing waves drowns out the worries we all carry around with us. The sun, the sand, and the search for the perfect shell or rock return us to childhood. For a little while, we are happy and at peace.

Eventually, hunger drove us out in search of clam chowder and french fries but we had seashells in our pockets and salt spray in our hair to remind us of one last summer day.