Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For Louisa, Jack, and Madeleine... (Literary Day of Days)

It's my favorite literary day of the year: the anniversary of the birth of three of the deepest writers of my heart. Louisa May Alcott was born on this day in 1832, Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis in 1898, and Madeleine L'Engle in 1918. What an amazing gift it is to be able to celebrate all three of them on the same day!

I fell in love with all three of these writers when I was very young and my love for them has continued over the years, though it's taken different shape in different seasons. As I pondered today all the profound ways they have influenced me through the years -- far too many ways to count -- it occurred to me that even if each had only graced the world with a fraction of what they wrote, I still would feel grateful. Playing on that idea, I wrote this poem in tribute to them, and in tribute to three of their characters who have been my special friends.

For Louisa, Jack and Madeleine

It would have been enough to give us Jo –

Tree climber, boot stomper, apple muncher,
Snow thrower, writer of tales.
In the mirror of pages across the ages,
We still see the ink stain on her finger,
The scorch on her dress, the wild, rumpled hair.
We hear her tears in the garret,
Mingled with rain, and know
the soft, satin feel of the ribbon
tied round her stories.

It would have been enough to give us Lucy –

Door opener, truth teller, faun friend,
merry queen, lion-hearted girl.
In the mirror of pages across the ages,
We still see the flask of healing cordial,
The white-winged albatross, snowflakes
Glittering in the lamppost light.
We hear her muffled tears the night
The world seemed to end, and know
the soft, tangled tresses of the wild lion’s mane
wrapped round her fingers.

It would have been enough to give us Meg –

Problem solver, hand holder, cocoa maker,
namer, friend of cherubim.
In the mirror of pages across the ages,
We still see glasses slip in the moonlight,
Dragon scales in a dripping garden,
A bright quilt in a wind-rocked attic room.
We hear her tears of relief as she clutches
Her rescued brother, and know
the soft, small boy feel of his hair
pressed close to her cheek.

~EMP, 11-29-11


Edna said...

I really enjoyed your poems! 2 of my favorite female characters of all time (Jo and Meg). Not dissing Lucy; just never connected with her as much. Thanks for sharing!

Edna said...

*well, poem, not really poems. . . sorry. I should proofread :-).

Erin said...

Such wonderful characters, and you describe them so beautifully. I love the parallels in the verses, especially at the end with the ribbon, Aslan's mane and Charles Wallace's hair.

Of course, Lucy is the one I connect with most. Between the three authors, they created enough terrific characters that I would think just about everybody could relate to one of them.

Beth said...

Edna, so glad you enjoyed it! (Or them...it really does almost work like three separate poems.) Jo and Meg are both wonderful characters. There is much more I love about each of them, and Lucy, and much more I love about each of these authors, but it was fun to try to pay tribute to some of my favorite literary girls!

Beth said...

Erin, I'm glad you thought the parallels worked. I didn't get the idea for the poem until late in the afternoon, and I really wanted to post it on the 29th, so I decided to wing it and did something I hardly ever do -- post a first draft with the ink still barely dry. (Oh, okay...I don't use ink that needs drying, but you know what I mean.) ;-) I suspect this will be a poem I come back too and work on again.

I love Lucy -- she provides such a wonderful entry-way into Narnia, and is so close to Aslan's heart. These three writers each gave the world so much, and I know these three characters are just a tiny bit of their gifting...but they are important ones!