I have taken to bringing children’s books home with me and spending time reading them and looking at the artwork. I decided that there is no sense at all in sorting multitudes of children’s books unless I take the time to read and reflect on at least a handful. If I wasn’t so busy categorizing, I would just get me a comfortable Lazy Boy chair and hang out in the U-Haul storage locker and read, read, read. Sad to say, time is sadly lacking.
Less so, in the evenings.
I am fortunate that at least at some point in my life that I am able to become acquainted with some works of children’s literature. I knew nothing at all before I started this project.
I came across the above-titled book a few days ago. I am a big fan of the story of Noah and the Ark. I do not know if it is true, and in fact this is an instance in which truth is a moot point (mute point?). It’s enough that I can picture it, Noah building an ark and all these animals climbing up the ramps, in groups of two, and settling in for a 40-day trip upon the sea. I do not let myself think about specifics, like how the ark must have smelt after ten days, or how all those animals were fed. Instead, I think about them, all bedded down, and being quite comfortable.
The story speaks to the fact that animals of all kinds need to be treated kindly and with consideration. Even chiggers.
These ideas of mine were reiterated in a book I just read, Prayers from the Ark by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold, and translated by Rumer Gooden. Also illustrated by Barry Moser. It was published by Editions du Cloitre, the private press of the Benedictine Abbaye Saint Louise de Temple at Limon-parigny, France, where the poet-author used to live.
An amazing quote “the Abbaye has not only endorsed what Carmen knew a poem must be, if it is to have any meaning: not something dreamy or wishful, not a cry to be used in emergency, not even a plea, and not necessarily comforting. A prayer is giving out, an offering, compounded of honest work and acceptance of the shape in which one has been created—even if it is to be regretted as much as the monkey’s, of these humble things added to the great three: faith, hope, and love.”
The Prayer of the Dog reiterates what’s being said in the forward:
I keep watch!
If I am not here
who will guard their house?
Watch over their sheep?
No one but you and I
What faithfulness is.
They call me “Good dog! Nice Dog!”
Words . . .
I take their pats
and the old bones they throw me
and I seem pleased.
They really believe they make me happy.
I take kicks too
when they come my way.
None of that matters.
I keep watch!
do not let me die
until, for them,
all danger is driven away.
Each animal that is quoted in poem form is accompanied by a beautiful illustration. All the animals, goats, cats, dogs, etc. say that although they are not understood literally, that they wish to be treated kindly. This comes across as a simple request.
Next: 87. 3/30/22: Keep on Keeping On