By Walter de la Mare
I spied John Mouldy in his cellar,
Deep down twenty steps of stone;
In the dusk he sat a-smiling,
Smiling there alone.
He read no book, he snuffed no candle;
The rats ran in, the rats ran out;
And far and near, the drip of water
Went whisp'ring about.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, a trilogy of poems by de la Mare, whose sense of the grotesque is admired by Pinsky. "The best writers do not write 'for children' from a superior position," he states. "Dr. Seuss, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edward Lear and Walter de la Mare made the kinds of poems they themselves would like to read. I admire these poets because they strive to give pleasure not merely to children but to readers of any age." Pinsky observes that not all of de la Mare's poems "enjoy creepiness and cruelty" like the one above, but adds that none are saccharine:
Bunches of Grapes
"Bunches of grapes," says Timothy;
"Pomegranates pink," says Elaine;
"A junket of cream and a cranberry tart
For me," says Jane.
"Love-in-a-mist," says Timothy;
"Primroses pale," says Elaine;
"A nosegay of pinks and mignonette
For me," says Jane.
"Chariots of gold," says Timothy;
"Silvery wings," says Elaine;
"A bumpity ride in a wagon of hay
For me," says Jane.
Creepy children's poetry is an absolutely perfect coda to my Saturday, which was taken up almost entirely with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- waiting for it all morning, reading it all afternoon and evening, writing notes about it all night. I was very pissed off at Amazon.com and the post office for not getting it to me before noon, but that ended up being a blessing in disguise in two ways. The first and more important is that it allowed me to finish both articles I needed to get posted and to write nearly all of an article I need to post Sunday, so I did not have stress or guilt about work hanging over my head. The second was that we had thunderstorms all afternoon and lost power twice for long stretches, so I read the first 3/4 of the novel by the weak light through the window and then candlelight, which is perfect mood lighting for Harry Potter. And the whole house smells like incense and scented candles now -- very Sibyl Trelawney.
My kids were first at a friend's house and then at my parents' where they elected to sleep over after learning that we had no electricity, so I was uninterrupted from the time I got the book except for meals, cat feeding, bathroom breaks, etc. and a brief jaunt to my parents to bring them clothes and kiss them goodnight (four deer, including a huge stag, crossed the road in front of our van on the way -- it was a very animagus-patronus moment *g*). I cannot remember the last YEAR I was able to read a book of this length in a day...even with OOTP, when we were driving across the country and I had long stretches in the car to read, I was frequently interrupted by the kids or stopping to see things and it took me the better part of a week. It felt nostalgic -- I used to spend entire days out of my weekend reading as a child -- I wonder whether one of the reasons I feel good about the book despite all the wrenches it throws into my mental HP universe is from that.
I imagine it is going to take another reading and at least a couple of weeks to assimilate everything before I figure out whether I am still the kind of fan I've been or whether I need to crawl off and reread O'Brian for awhile. There is lots that pissed me off but also lots to chew on, and I don't know which will dominate as I think about it. The fact that I want to get rid of all icons I have with a certain character strikes me as a bad sign for immediate fannish reaction -- if I daydream in this universe it will have to be in a completely different context, I suspect, and who knows where the writing will end up.
Anyway, I definitely need more time. Sunday night we're probably going to a baseball game if the weather cooperates. Or maybe to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if the weather is unbearable. So I shall go percolate. *g*
A snake at Huntley Meadows the weekend before last. Closest I could come to a Slytherin photo for the night. *G*