Last year I did a Poetry Friday post on children’s poems that featured a book called Inner Chimes. I excerpted a snippet of a poem I liked by British writer Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) and as a result became curious about her. After reading her biography, I sought out her books. Our local library did not have a lot of her books available for loan. Many are out of print and some, in fact, were housed in the juvenile reference section which require special permission to view. One book, however, of her most famous hymn-poem “Morning Has Broken” was available in a picture book format illustrated by Tim Ladwig (Eerdmans, 1996). I took it out and read it to my daughter, and then showed her a Youtube of Cat Stevens‘ famous rendition of the hymn. It was a great way to enjoy the poem! I was also able to take out Kaleidoscope (illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, Oxford University Press, 1963). Kaleidoscope is a collection of short lyrical sketches about a young boy named Anthony and his childish but deeply poetic perceptions of the world. In her Foreword, Farjeon explains how the character of Anthony was based on a poet acquaintance of hers who had grown up in the countryside. As writers, they shared memories of their past childhood — hers of a girl growing up in London and he as a boy in Somerset. I was impressed by these prose sketches by Farjeon, seemingly lighthearted in tone, but profoundly perceptive at the same time. She seemed to capture that essential childish awe and wonder that is of the nature of the poet, who perceives and then delights in words. As old as the book is, it does not feel dated; the observations are not sentimental nor trite. I enjoyed reading these sketches, mostly for myself although I did try reading a couple to my daughter. If you can find Farjeon’s books in your library, I’d recommend seeking them out. They are little treasures from the past, well worth savoring today.
This week’s Poetry Friday host is Laura at Writing the World for Kids.