“My heart and the gray world grow young”: Sophie Jewett’s “To a Child”

IMG_4651This past weekend, Dear Readers, my sister gave birth to the most beautiful little girl. She’s our first niece and H’s first cousin, and we’re so excited that she’s here (and we can’t wait to meet her!).

Naturally, I’ve had poems about babies and birth on the brain, and let me tell you: there are a lot of cotton-candy sweet poems about babies out there if you care to look, but also quite a few that are nuanced and lovely (Don Paterson’s “Walking with Russell,” for example,  is a fantastic father-son/parent-child poem).

Sophie Jewett’s “To a Child” is old fashioned, a quiet and simple poem. Its speaker looks back on early parenthood from the position of age, using a metaphor of a tree and a bird to show the parent-child relationship:

I was a dreaming forest tree,
You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
Because the north wind stirred;

It reminds me of Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny (one of the all-time great children’s books, and beautifully deconstructed in Margaret Edson’s beautiful play Wit). In the story (and aren’t children’s stories often very much like poems, with their rhythmic cadences and repetitions?) , the baby bunny says that he will run away, and the mother replies that she will find him, “for you are my little bunny.” In one scene, he says that he will become a little bird and fly away, but “If you become a little bird and fly away from me,” said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”

Welcome home, Cora!

2 thoughts on ““My heart and the gray world grow young”: Sophie Jewett’s “To a Child”

  1. Pingback: “A far sea moves in my ear”: Sylvia Plath’s “Morning Song” | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

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