I chose Fairy Story by Stevie Smith (1902-1971) because I felt that the woodland scene would follow on well from yesterday’s Kipling verses. There is always a sense of mystery in a woodland, whether it is from strange sounds, half hidden paths or the sense that unseen creatures (and the trees) are communicating in a way that we don’t understand. I haven’t so far been able to find out when this poem was first published, but it often crops up in anthologies for children. I think we have ‘Fairy Story’ in two or three collections of poetry on The Landing, so I’ve used one that I haven’t featured on the blog before:
Golden Apples: Poems for Children, edited by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Alan Marks (Heinemann, 1985). This anthology is another one of my library sale bargains (thanks again to Dundrum library) from recent years. It is an excellent anthology of ‘simple poems and challenging ones, the familiar and the completely new, poems that range from the lyrical to the comic’.
I went into the wood one day
And there I walked and lost my way
When it was so dark I could not see
A little creature came to me
He said if I would sing a song
The time would not be very long
But first I must let him hold my hand tight
Or else the wood would give me a fright
I sang a song, he let me go
But know I am home again there is nobody I know.
I only know a scattering of Stevie Smith’s poems so I should look out for an addition to The Landing poetry shelf. While putting this piece together, I was reminded of the film made of Stevie Smith’s life (from a play by Hugh Whitemore) starring Glenda Jackson and Mona Washbourne (1978). I saw it on television when I was a teenager; Glenda Jackson and Stevie Smith have since become inextricably entwined in my mind. I remember being fascinated by the poet having a man’s name (her real name was Florence Margaret Smith) which seemed awfully sophisticated at the time. According to Wikipedia, the reason for the nickname was due to Smith’s supposed resemblance to the jockey Steve Donaghue. And here was me thinking all these years that it was some sort of artistic feminist statement.
I think I now need to go on a DVD hunt to relive my teenage years…