By the way…

Some of you might not know that this isn’t the only place I share thoughts; the more bookish posts and reviews can be found on the blog page of my website, http://www.booksbybecka.com.  I reviewed my new favourite book of poetry – Malcolm Guite’s The Singing Bowl, which I’ve mentioned here within the last few days – there this morning.

Reading List 2013

I, too, like Kelly Belmonte at http://www.allninemuses.wordpress.com, keep a list of what I read.  Here’s this year’s list so far:

Jane Kenyon: A Literary Life – John H. Timmerman
A Circle of Quiet – Madeleine L’Engle
Baby – Patricia MacLachlan
Telling Secrets – Frederick Buechner
Gifts – Ursula LeGuin
The Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
The Book of Hours – Rainer Maria Rilke
What Men Live By – Leo Tolstoy
Celtic Prayers from Iona – Philip J. Newell
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg
Arthur, for the Very First Time – Patricia MacLachlan
The Tiger Rising – Kate DiCamillo
Sabbatical Journey – Henri Nouwen
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
A Room Called Remember – Frederick Buechner
The Princess Bride – William Goldman
Three Ways of Searching – Kelly Belmonte
East of the Sun and West of the Moon – retold by Kathleen and Michael Hague
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
A Thousand Mornings – Mary Oliver
The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis
Picnic, Lightning – Billy Collins
Bilbo’s Journey – Joseph Pearce
Sixty Odd – Ursula LeGuin
The Singing Bowl – Malcolm Guite

Several of these are re-reads; there are a number of titles I need to read again every couple years. And some of the first-time reads listed here will undoubtedly show up again in future lists. I heartily agree with C.S. Lewis’s statement in “On Stories” that “We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties.”

Now I know my ABC’s

first day of school

Spell
Malcolm Guite

Summon the summoners, the twenty-six
enchanters.  Spelling silence into sound,
they bind and loose, they find and are not found.
Re-call the river-tongues from Alph to Styx,
summon the summoners, the shaping shapes,
the grounds of sound, the generative gramma,
signs of the Mystery, inscribed arcana,
runes from the root-tree written in the deeps,
leaves from the tale-tree lifted, swift and free,
shining, re-combining in their dance
the genesis of every utterance,
pattering the pattern of the Tree.

Summon the summoners, and let them sing.
The summoners will summon Everything.

I’ll be starting first grade again today, for the fourth time. I’d thought our homeschooling season would end when Baby Girl the First finished high school, but you know what Mr. Burns said about the best laid plans of mice and men…Baby Girl the Second came along just in time for my fortieth birthday, giving me one more opportunity to begin at the very beginning.

When you read you begin with ABC, or summon the summoners, the twenty-six enchanters.  What a motley set of characters – only a couple of them able to stand alone, but let them start joining up, and there they go, spelling silence into sound.  How do they do that?  How do a bunch of little black marks on a white page bring forth purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain?  And that’s just the most obvious manifestation of their powers.

They bind:  once you know a rose is a rose you can’t very well imagine it by any other name; and loose:  the rose isn’t just a rose, it’s velvet and fragrance and innocence and my luve is like a red, red rose.  They are the shaping shapes:  sometimes they actually do take on something of the shape of the object they signify – bed, for instance, or hollyhock .  How cool is that?

These twenty-six little bits of code are signs of the Mystery – like the Word that is from the beginning, they lend form to the intangible, showing us glimpses of things beyond our comprehending; runes from the root-tree, searching down to the bedrock of our knowledge; leaves from the tale-tree, spreading, reaching, leaping greenly.  And speaking of re-combining, do they mean the things they name, or do they name the things they mean?

In a strange, fascinating book I read a few years ago (Libyrinth, by Pearl North), I came across an alternate ending that I really like:  “Now I know my ABC’s, all the books are mine to read.”  Yes.  They are the genesis of every utterance, the keys that open the books that open the world.  What a joy it is now to watch Baby Girl the Second testing her power to summon the summoners, and let them sing, and see the magic light up her eyes as she discovers how the summoners will summon Everything.

This post was originally published August 12, 2012 on http://www.allninemuses.wordpress.com.