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Thread: On Childish Things

  1. #1
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Eugene, OR

    On Childish Things

    Saint Paul admonishes the Corinthians that, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    One would think that I (mere I) would be leery of arguing with St. Paul, the great Theologian of the Early Church. But I plan to do so.
    I'd suggest that nobody loves stories as much as children; and, with greater evidence, that I loved the stories of my childhood at least as well (and probably better) than those of my adulthood. Nor have I felt any need to “put away childish things.” Instead, I return to them both for their continued excellencies and for the memory of how I loved them as a child.

    Grown-ups expand their tastes, and develop new ones. I now like wine, and bleu cheese, and James Joyce. But that doesn't mean I've grown to dislike ice cream or The Jungle Books.

    Children love stories so much they want them to go on forever. “The Worm Ouroboros” by E.R. Edison is the perfect children's story, or (perhaps) the end of The Last Battle. But most stories have to end, as does childhood, as does life. I remember the end of The Jungle Books” sending me into tears, as Mowgli must grow up Who needed that! Here's the end: the last line of which is unspeakably sad.

    ““Thou hast heard,” said Baloo. “There is no more. Go now; but first come to me. O wise Little Frog, come to me!”

    “It is hard to cast the skin,” said Kaa as Mowgli sobbed and sobbed, with his head on the blind bear’s side and his arms round his neck, while Baloo tried feebly to lick his feet.

    “The stars are thin,” said Gray Brother, snuffing at the dawn wind. “Where shall we lair to-day? for from now, we follow new trails.”

    And this is the last of the Mowgli stories.
    It was bad enough that Mowgli was growing up, and leaving his fantasy world, but “this is the last?” NO! NO!

    Here's A.E.'s (the Irish poet and revolutionary take: (I love the second to last verse.)


    Call not thy wanderer home as yet
    Though it be late.
    Now is his first assailing of
    The invisible gate.
    Be still through that light knocking. The hour
    Is thronged with fate.

    To that first tapping at the invisible door
    Fate answereth.
    What shining image or voice, what sigh
    Or honied breath,
    Comes forth, shall be the master of life
    Even to death.

    Satyrs may follow after. Seraphs
    On crystal wing
    May blaze. But the delicate first comer
    It shall be King.
    They shall obey, even the mightiest,
    That gentle thing.

    All the strong powers of Dante were bowed
    To a child's mild eyes,
    That wrought within him that travail
    From depths up to skies,
    Inferno, Purgatorio
    And Paradise.

    Amid the soul's grave councillors
    A petulant boy
    Laughs under the laurels and purples, the elf
    Who snatched at his joy,
    Ordering Caesar's legions to bring him
    The world for his toy.

    In ancient shadows and twilights
    Where childhood had strayed,
    The world's great sorrows were born
    And its heroes were made.
    In the lost boyhood of Judas
    Christ was betrayed.

    Let thy young wanderer dream on:
    Call him not home.
    A door opens, a breath, a voice
    From the ancient room,
    Speaks to him now. Be it dark or bright
    He is knit with his doom

  2. #2
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Reading, England
    When I read that statement by St Paul, he seemed to contradict Jesus when he said whoever could not accept the kingdom of heaven like a little child will surely never enter it,

    I remembered the end of the Jungle Book being sad, although very good. However, when I re-read the Jungle Books recently, the stories were not at all like I remembered.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    Oct 2006
    I read some of the "great" books when I was very young. I read a handful of them several times. (Crusoe n Huck) But I also filled myself with Blyton, Henty, WE Johns, Terhune and co and now I can have the same fun again reading them (and others) with grandkids

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