poems chosen by P. L. Travers, photographs by teamgloria

darlings

while “winding down” (makes us sound like a Clock – *ironiclooktocamera*) this evening we listened to the Radio from 1977 (so Clever, these digital devices all connected to the interweb).

P. L. Travers (Pamela, as we like to call her) regaled us with her stories of magic and Mary Poppins and the Celtic Twilight and life growing up in Australia many moons ago.

and in a surprising twist (not that Surprising when one of course considers the Source) – she chose not Music (as is usual in the programme – and we use the British spelling advisedly) but POEMS.

how glorious.

and so we thought we’d list some of them here for you – together with a few photographs of our own which are no way related (as far as we know but with P.L. Travers would wouldn’t be surprised – and she did live in America for a while so perhaps she trod these paths too….)

Los Angeles Times: April 25th, 1996 
Travers often said her famous character sought her out.

In a 1970 speech at Scripps College in Claremont when she was a writer-in-residence, she said she “happened to be there at the moment [Poppins appeared] in order to take it down.”

Travers was also writer-in-residence at Radcliffe College from 1965-66 and at Smith College in 1966.

She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1977.

Travers, who never married, lived in London’s Chelsea district, where she prided herself on her rose garden, complete with the yellow Mary Poppins and the crimson Pamela Travers roses.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

home

T S Eliot 
Little Gidding

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

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Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

“Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

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Chose Something Like A Star – Robert Frost

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

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“This is our country, nowhere else and we shall not be outcast on the world.” John Hewitt, The Outcast

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and this is a photograph we feel sure P. L. Travers would have enjoyed – we turned round a corner (in reality, not metaphorically, but we know it’s hard to tell Here) and saw this man trimming a topiary! how delicious!

we were going to say Only In Los Angeles but actually topiary is terribly British but perhaps not that many giraffes at Chatsworth*.

what’s that?

you’d like a giraffe topiary in Your garden?

you have a garden?

why have you not sent us pictures (links please!) – we adore a garden (sadly we don’t have one – but there is a swimming pool and plenty of succulents-in-pots so we are not lacking in anyway)

back to You *winningsmile*

here’s where to buy a giraffe topiary frame of your very own.

*actually we must not slander Chatsworththe Duchess had a Christmas festive topiary Educational experience for the Public back in 2011

Table centre and topiary tree 2 and 5 December
Design a festive table centre with a nostalgic Victorian theme using elegant candles, berries, evergreens, cones, nuts and spices. This workshop also looks at designing a spiced topiary tree with cones, cinnamon, gilded nuts, fragrant Norwegian blue spruce and wonderful preserved fruits.

one last photograph from today –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAah yes.

*sighs*

to live somewhere like that.

but in its natural habitat – in the south of France (this is a house in beverly hills which is contrasted with the house next door that looks like something from the Rule of the Medici family and the one over the road hails distinctly – but on a whole other scale – from Somewhere in the Shires of England).

but there again – we’d be happy anywhere.

that’s the point, right?

*calmBuddhaPose*

btw (as the Young People say) did you know there’s a new Film about P. L. Travers at the cinema soon?

guess who’s playing the charming yet feckless Father-of-P.L.-Travers drowning in the celtic twilight poetry of his own twisted glorious imagination?

who else?

more east coast portraits: chloe and the small boys.

darlings

we took a lovely train ride yesterday up through the flaming autumnal trees of upstate New York towards a town that we thought only existed in the movies – mais non! tis real.

the Purpose of our visit was to catch up with a dear friend and former person-who-also-worked-in-a-skyscraper and is now the darling mother of a small brood of boys – three of them, under three, to be exact.

oh we had the most delicious time!

the thing about photographing small people is to let them understand that one completely appreciates the nature of being small – and Young – and saying definite things and enjoying the color/colour/shades of Lilac and Yellow (“like the sun – and we Like It” we were told, most clearly with a splendid seriousness we Much agreed-with).

 we also Adored being read to – and we have a very soft spot for using the English accent and doing a spot of reading to.

the books on offer were about Trucks (yellow, mostly – a clearly compelling shade and no wonder – tis glorious and Like The Sun) and Very large airplanes, mostly. Now airplanes we recall from la vie jet-set (in fact, we were in INDIA when we first knew of the impending arrival of this small boy in a blue sweatshirt, not too many years ago) and Trucks are not unknown to us (but we prefer something small and sporty and nippy for driving down Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu – can’t wait!) but we suddenly saw something in the corner of the room and we kept taking pictures while moving it gently over to our field of vision with our right foot……

…….and then we started reading in a Very British Accent and slowly but surely the attention was diverted from the Trucks and Airplanes and we both sat quietly and with a great deal of sonorous pleasure and a vast amount of relaxing energy and smiles and Deep Sighs when discovering what happens when it is the Night Before Christmas..

our divine reverie was complete when we were Informed, gently, that not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, by a small eager voice Piping up from the small blue armchair by the crib and we sat reading, in delicious companionship, for a little while.

yes.

this New Life is Rather Excellent.

thank you, Chloe and the small boys for the visit.

P. L. Travers is one of our most favo(u)rite writers and has a Lot to say about writing – and not specifically for children – but being Delighted when children fall in love with her characters, like a certain Ms. Poppins.

(http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3099/the-art-of-fiction-no-63-p-l-travers)

The other day two little boys accosted me in the street and said to me, “You are the lady who wrote Mary Poppins, aren’t you?” And I admitted it, and said, “How do you know?” And they said, “Because we sing in the choir, and the vicar told us.” So, clearly, they had thrown off their surplices and rushed after me to catch me. So I said, “Well, do you like her?” And they both nodded vigorously. I then said, “What is it you like about her?” And one of them said, “Well, she’s so ordinary and then . . .” and having said “and then” he looked around for the proper word, and couldn’t find it. And I said, “You don’t have to say any more. That ‘and then’ says everything.” And the other little boy said, “Yes, and I’m going to marry her when I grow up.” And I saw the first one clench his fists and look very belligerent. I felt there might be trouble and so I said, “Well, we’ll just have to see what she thinks about it, won’t we? And in the meantime, my house is just there—come in and have a lemonade.” So they did. With regard to your question about her altering, I do not think that people who read her would want her to be altered. And what I liked so much about that—I felt it was the highest praise—was that the boy should say, “Well, she’s so ordinary.” But that’s what she is. And it is only through the ordinary that the extraordinary can make itself perceived.

I certainly had no specific child in mind when I wrote Mary Poppins. How could I? If I were writing for the Japanese child who reads it in a land without staircases, how could I have written of a nanny who slides up the banister? If I were writing for the African child who reads the book in Swahili, how could I have written of umbrellas for a child who has never seen or used one?

But I suppose if there is something in my books that appeals to children, it is the result of my not having to go back to my childhood; I can, as it were, turn aside and consult it (James Joyce once wrote, “My childhood bends beside me”). If we’re completely honest, not sentimental or nostalgic, we have no idea where childhood ends and maturity begins. It is one unending thread, not a life chopped up into sections out of touch with one another.

Once, when Maurice Sendak was being interviewed on television a little after the success of Where the Wild Things Are, he was asked the usual questions: Do you have children? Do you like children? After a pause, he said with simple dignity: “I was a child.” That says it all.

But don’t let me leave you with the impression that I am ungrateful to children. They have stolen much of the world’s treasure and magic in the literature they have appropriated for themselves. Think, for example, of the myths or Grimm’s fairy tales—none of which were written especially for them—this ancestral literature handed down by the folk. And so despite publishers’ labels and my own protestations about not writing especially for them, I am grateful that children have included my books in their treasure trove.

yes.

a perfectly proper way of explaining the magic of children.

and we Did enjoy the magical boys we met yesterday, up in a town we had no earthly idea actually existed in real life and not just the movies.

although the movies are pretty much RL to us.

and we like it like that.

just like a small boy in Pleasantville is most definite about liking Yellow – because the sun is yellow – and – we quote – I Like That.

yes, magical. *smiling*