Thursday, August 01, 2013

The time has come

My girls enjoy listening to me read poetry. Initially, it was Molly who wanted me to read a number of poems to her; then, Devyn gradually joined us. For the past four years or so, I have granted repeated requests for our repertoire of poems while content in the understanding that they enjoyed the oral tradition or the musicality of the works being read. It wasn't important that such young children interpret poems or listen with an academic ear: Molly was just two years old when our tradition began.

This afternoon, we settled into the movie of my choice: Harriet the Spy (which is based upon the book of the same name by Louise Fitzhugh). The girls were unenthusiastic. It wasn't until the character of the nanny (played by Rosie O'Donnell) began to recite, "The time has come, the Walrus said..." that Devyn and Molly smiled, their little faces glowing with the recognition of a poem.

Not only did the girls recognize The Walrus and the Carpenter and speak it line for line, in the context of the movie the poem made sense to them, and they wanted the movie to continue. They were delighted as our poem appeared again throughout the story. In fact, the nanny repeated the first stanza in at least two different contexts, and both girls understood why the recitation was appropriate each time.

And it was merely a flash, this initial convergence of myself, the girls, the movie, and the poem, but it illuminated something about our togetherness that I greatly value: what connects us is never fully captured in any one piece of writing that we read together, but every work that we read fully connects us in some way.

*The Walrus and the Carpenter from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1872) by Lewis Carroll

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