Poetry Friday: Nostalgic for the Classics

h1 November 24th, 2006 by eisha

*{Note: Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy} . . .

Hello, Dear Readers.  Happy day-after-Thanksgiving.  Did you all make it through okay?  Personally, I’m having trouble reaching past my tummy to the keyboard, but I’m okay with that.

I’ve been thinking this morning about Thanksgiving, and its place in the Fall-to-Winter holiday continuum.  Julie was right, it is a very nice holiday, all about taking time to recognize what’s most important to us – family, friends, and the pleasures of home and hearth.  I think it’s become a way to galvanize us, too, for the uberstressful capital-H-Holiday season.  In a few weeks, when we’ve been fighting crowds in malls and standing in checkout lines for days on the quest to get exactly the right gifts for those we care about, we can look back on Thanksgiving, remember being surrounded by those very same loved ones, maybe eating a fabulous pecan pie baked by the very relative whose name we are currently cursing because she is so very hard to shop for – and take a breath, and remember why we’re putting ourselves through this, why we do it over and over again every year:  love.

I may only be thinking in these terms because my husband and I didn’t go home this Thanksgiving.  We live literally a thousand miles away from our extended families, and just don’t make it to Tennessee for every holiday.  We still cooked up a big meal, though, and we made the dishes that remind us of home.  (Okay, so we bought the pecan pie.  I can’t do it as well as my mom, but Whole Foods is pretty close.)  So I’m feeling very nostalgic right now.  And that may be why, when I went to my pile of Cybil Poetry nominees to choose one to write about, I was drawn to the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris.

Barefoot Book of Classic Poems

If I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one book of poetry with me, this would not be a bad choice at all.  Many of the greats are represented:  Shakespeare, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Rilke…  If you have a favorite, he/she is probably here.  This is, technically, being published and marketed for children, but few of the poems were actually written for children.  Which is kind of great, actually – it’s an anthology that children can grow into.  Poetry can follow the same learning curve as nursery rhymes: first you fall in love with the rhythm and rhyme, the sound of the language, long before you understand the meaning.

The 74 poems – covering such themes as childhood, seasons, nature, animals, war, love and death – are loosely arranged to “trace our journey through life from birth to old age” (from the publisher’s website).  And they have been selected and beautifully, lavishly illustrated by Jackie Morris, who has just become one of my favorite illustrators.  Her lovely, swirly, richly-colored, romantic watercolors remind me of Jane Ray, another favorite.  Click here to see the spreads for the cover and “The Owl and the Pussycat,” plus one for “How Many Miles to Babylon” that didn’t make the final cut.

I wanted to share one of the poems with you, but seriously, there are so many good ones here it was hard to choose.  But this one seems like a nice post-Thanksgiving choice – quiet, restful, magical, contented…  Here’s “Moonlit Apples” by John Drinkwater:

At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,
And the skylight lets the moonlight in, and those
Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes
     A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.

Read the rest of the poem here.  And have a lovely holiday season.

7 comments to “Poetry Friday: Nostalgic for the Classics”

  1. oh my. those are lovely watercolors, and that is a great poem. i really want to see this now. i think that kelly at Big A little a has recommended this book, too — that’s to say that since two of you with excellent taste recommend it, i’m a-goin’ to get it.

    and we missed you both in tennessee. wah. but i’m glad you enjoyed your New England holiday and didn’t get blown away by those gusty winds.

  2. Eisha, I really like your idea of being a book that children can grow into. Very thoughtful review. Thanks! I have the book, and it is indeed beautiful.

    Everyone around here (so. New England) says PEE-cans, when we all know it’s puh-CAHNS. I haven’t made a pecan pie in eons. Must remedy that.

  3. I KNOW! They TOTALLY say it wrong. “PEE-can” sounds like something you’d have to use when you’re camping.

    Let me know when you make that pie, I’ll be happy to come taste-test it for you.

  4. I’m raelly not that hard to buy for, but I do make a mean pecan pie. Missed you.

  5. it’s Janice, one of the top-five Coolest Moms Ever (eisha’s mom). hi, janice! — jules

  6. hi, mom!

    you’re right, you always tell us exactly what to buy you, and we appreciate it.

    seriously, that whole foods pie was good, but HOW do you your crusts always taste so much better than anyone else’s? it’s just flour, right?

  7. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to
    do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own blog
    and would like to find out where u got this from.
    many thanks

    Feel free to visit my web-site; cool summer dinners

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