Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Prose Poems

I have some clear time to work on the computer this morning, and instead of getting on with the myriad editing and writing jobs I have stacked up on my desk I have been playing on the templates page of Blogger. Herewith the results. I like neat layouts, with plenty of white space and muted colours, and this template has that. I am not rising to the heights of glory of Attack of the Redneck Mommy, whose new dress you should really go and admire, nor have I done much template editing. But I guess I am slowly making my page reflect my taste.

I've put a book link in, as well, because the premises and the way this author tells his story really impress me. I've always been fascinated by social anthropology; I probably misidentify a lot of what I read into that category. I took a degree in English Language and Literature with a minor in (wait for it) Latin. I've always thought that the best parts of the course work were the linking of what the authors said into the lives they lead and the communities they lived in. This in spite of the fact that some of the professors demanded that we read the texts in isolation, unsullied by biographical chaff. Snort. Ever try that with something like Shakespeare's Henry plays? Or Dickens? Or Scott? The best course I had was a self directed reading course in the English novel. Mind you, by 'English' my university meant 'England' -- we had in our last year an optional half course where we could choose between Canadian literature and American literature. Which is why I know more about historical London than I do about any other city and why Johnson's research on cholera in Victorian London is so real to me.

This started me thinking about how the (exclusively male) poets treated babies -- from Shakespeare's 'infant mewling and puking in his nurse's arms' to Wordsworth's

not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing
clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home;
Heaven lies about
us in our infancy!

Note the 'nurse' who looked after Will's kids -- whom he left behind in Stratford -- and WW's quick glance into the nursery at an obviously sleeping baby.

Well, people would say, is there anything more satisfying and adorable than a clean and sleeping baby? Yes, there is. The wide awake one who graces you with her first smile. The triumphant one who finally gets the spoon into her mouth instead of her ear. The delighted one who manages a stagger across the room into your outstretched arms. The sophisticated young miss who greets you after her nap with the welcome words 'I dry grama'. The sober young scholar who, after hearing it only ten times, reads an exciting version of 'The Gruffalo' to her stuffed animals, holding the book carefully upside down. ('I will read it myfelf, grama') And last, but not least, the rapt and pink cheeked Birthday girl, with the light of four candles reflected in her shining eyes.

There isn't much classic poetry about moments like that -- no mommy poets. One of the things I really like about this part of the blogosphere are the prose poems written about children, their ways and their days. As far as I know, it's a first time ever record by women actually doing the job, while they're doing it. Unique and wonderful.


  1. Hear hear! (or should that be "Here Here?")

    Perfect post, Mary. I am often wondering what sort of lyrical legacy we are leaving in ur wake right now, and this post sums it up perfectly.

    (also a Gruffalo fan, BTW;-))

  2. I agree with joy. I was interested to read the snippets from Shakespeare and Wordsworth. No doubt there are entire dissertations on how the master (male) poets treated the subject of children -- fascinating stuff.