April 12, 2016

Friday, January 11, 2013

Poetry Postcard 8

One of the postcards donated to my antique postcard project featured an old friend.

Lucie meets Mrs. Tiggy Winkle
in one of Beatrix Potter's books.
"The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle" was published in 1905. The book was written for Lucie Carr, a young friend of Beatrix Potter's.

As a child, I loved books by British authors and stories set in rural England. My mother, who was born near Sherwood Forest, read Potter's stories to us. (Family myth says I knew "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by heart and would not allow my tired mother to skip even one word at bedtime.) 

These stories and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson made me feel closer to my English grandmother, whom we could only visit once each year.
Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle sings a little song
as she works on the animals' laundry:
Lily-white and clean, oh!
With little frills between, oh!
Smooth and hot – red rusty spot
Never here be seen, oh!
My daughter and I watched a video of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's story together before I got busy writing the poem.

Part two of the video is here. As my friends know, all it takes is a pan-shot of the English countryside and my eyes start welling up.

Soon, I was taking a walk with Ms. Potter down her (my memory) lane.

Pastoral with Hedgehog

I could imagine meeting
a prickly laundress on a walk
or picnic in the high grass
my English grandmother with her
basket of fizzy lemonade and pork rolls
cloth serviettes my brothers and I
searching for clay pigeons broken
on the hill where our uncles
practiced shooting and every rabbit
ducking into its hole was Alice’s
every hedgehog might be
Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle who was
like my grandmother her cups of tea
and foxgloves curlered hair
in a kerchief I could believe
almost anything we were so removed
from our other ordinary life

by Laura Shovan


From Beatrix Potter, I moved on to British children's and fantasy authors C.S. Lewis and Susan Cooper.

I still love British children's, YA and fantasy authors. My daughter  is going through a huge Eva Ibbotson phase at the moment and we both love Diana Wynne Jones (and the adaptations of her books by Studio Ghibli). 

Diana Wynne Jones' novel was adapted
by master-animator Hayao Miyazaki.
In contemporary children's fiction, I love Hilary McKay's books. Highly recommended are Dog Friday (middle grade) and the Casson Family series (young YA).


Linda B said...

My childhood visiting a grandmother was different, but much the same as I was able to visit one set of grandparents only once a year, a few weeks each summer. My father was killed in WWII & these were his parents. I have written much about them, and the time was magical, which I connected to your poem. Someday perhaps I'll write & share some other poems about that time. Your poem reminded me so much of that time, picnics & forests & creatures all rolled up into one, & a 'proper' grandmother, "so removed
from our other ordinary life ". Thanks Laura, & thanks too for the other links & recommendations to contemporary books, too.(Love Susan Cooper!)

Author Amok said...

Hi, Linda. Thank you so much for sharing this story about your family. I would love to read some of your poems about your father and grandparents.

Amy LV said...

Linda, I simply adore this poem and all of the words in it. There is something about the concreteness of nouns here - I feel I am touching the poem - hedgehog, pork rolls, cloth serviettes, clay pigeons, cups of tea,kerchief...all of it. You bring this hedgehog (with her "foxgloves curlered hair"!) truly to life. And yes, "I could believe almost anything we were so removed from our other ordinary life." Yes. I am a lucky recipient of htis card. Thank you...and wishes for a wonderful year of more postcard gifts.