"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Thursday, 4 August 2011

swings roundabouts and counterpanes

My best place to think of ideas and stories for my blog is while I am in the shower (That is why some showers take much longer than others, Michael).  Perhaps it is because that yesterday I left work a tad early to go on a "play date" in Keurboom Park that my wonderful shower this morning got me around to today's way of thinking.  Two friends were taking their grandsons to play together.  They know I suffer from "grandmother envy" so I got the nod to join them.  It was also a good time for me to have a quick catch-up while admiring their offspring's spawn.  Two very fine specimens, one very blonde, smiley and baldish the other dark, with curls and eyelashes any girl would die for.

In the last couple of months quite a few friends have become grandparents and if I don't buy them wonderful appliqued vests or bibs from Janetta, a book is next on the list.  I am a regular visitor to Norman's Bookshop at Belvedere Park in Claremont and have rediscovered quite a few old favourites.  The Secret Garden is still one of my bestest ever books.  How many of these do you remember?

8-1the-secret-gardenLittleprincegrimmon2Wind+in+The+Willowsalice1Charlie & the Chocolate Factoryextra_67875_01

So I have bought quite a few books as gifts and also restocked my bookshelf with some of the older classics that I do not have anymore (just in case).  One of my first posts was about one my favourite books from my childhood "Milly Molly Mandy".   Another book that I invested in was  a "A Child's Garden of Verse" which I want to show to Michael's 91 year old mom.  She often recites poetry to us and I am always amazed at how many poems she remembers.  There are only two poems from my childhood that I can still remember word for word and they are (this is excluding nursery rhymes, hey?):-


How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!

(love the pictures) 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

I remember having a very enthusiastic but strict Standard 3 teacher called Miss Howell who taught us to recite this poem with meaning and to try to get the "rhythm of the sea" into our voices.  The rhythm of the sea in my voice obviously helped in splashing the words firmly in my brain forever.

Do you think that when we get to 91 all those old memories and the ability to remember and recite poetry will come back to us?  I wonder.  I am still pretty good with song lyrics but the brain has not stored too much Shakespeare or Wordsworth in the empty gaps.

There are, of course the ones you remember but more so because of the illustrations that were in the books than the verse itself.  I clearly remember asking my grandmother what a "counterpane" was.  I was convinced it was a "kind of window you got in England".   What a stupid name.  What was wrong with bedspread or just plain quilt?


When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bedclothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

It was obviously before I understood the complexity of verse:-

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and stilt (hilt, built, kilt, guilt)
The pleasant land of the quilt

Not quite the same.

From the sublime to the ridiculous Jennifer - dancing naked (but with your clothes on) to up in the air so blue.  At least I can never be accused of not mixing it up for you.

1 comment:

  1. That is gorgeous...loved the books .....reminisced about how much time you spent with my boys when they were young....and then had a heartfelt few moments reading about the ships and the seas....knowing that my "baby" is forging his life in that world right now....I miss him so much. So lots of emotions in one post..thank you for being so wonderful. xxxxx