Friday, May 6, 2011

Updating the Goose

I’ve used this cartoon on the Treasury of Laughter before, of course. But it fits in so well with the next little bit, well, I just can’t resist.

Revamping those old Mother Goose tales, of course, is an old saw of the creative writer. Why, here’s Walter de la Mare telling us all about Jack and Jill:

Up to the top of the haunted turf
They climbed on moonlit hill;
Not a leaf rustled in the underbrush,
The listening air was still.

And only the noise of the water pail
As it struck on a jutting stone,
Clattered and jarred against the silence
As the two trod on alone.

Up to the moonlit peak they went;
And, though not a word would they say,
Their thoughts outnumbered a poet’s love-songs
In the first green weeks of May.

The stealthy shadows crept closer;
They clutched at the hem of Jill’s gown;
And there at the very top she stumbled,
And Jack came shuddering down.

Their cries rang out against the stillness,
Pitiful and high and thin.
And the echoes edged back still further
As the silence gathered them in.

There, typical pap and – whoah.

Yikes. Yeah, I guess, if you parse the words and read it without a sing-song voice, the original rhyme to jack and Jill is pretty macabre. Seeing it in this situation, of course, twists the situation enough to make the eerie situation of the original peek out of the simple, familiar words.

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