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Thu, 20 May 2010
Another Gem from the wonderful but strange A.A. Milne.

tea and biscuitsSeligor's Castle presents
SPRING MORNING
BY THE WONDERFUL
A. A. MILNE.

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
Down to the stream where the king-cups grow --
Up on the hill where the pine-trees blow --
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
Where am I going? The shadows pass,
Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

Poor Eyeore is under a black rainy cloud If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
You'd sail on water as blue as air,
And you'd see me here in the fields and say:
"Doesn't the sky look green today?"

Where am I going? The high rooks call:
"It's awful fun to be born at all."
Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
"We do have beautiful things to do."

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You'd lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You'd say to the wind when it took you away:
"That's where I wanted to go today!"

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow --
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.


This little poem comes from one of my most precious books with the title

When We Were Very Young

It was published in 1921 and the decorations are by Ernest H. Shepard

Alan Alexander Milne has written a small forward to the book himself and I really would like to tell you what it says, so here it is just for you

At one time (but I have changed my mind now) I thought I was going to write a little Note at the top of each of these poems, in the manner of Mr. William Wordsworth, who liked to tell his readers where he was staying, and which of his friends he was walking with, and what he was thinking about, when the idea of writing his poem came to him.
You will find some lines about a swan here, if you get as far as that, and I should have explained to you in that Note that Christopher Robin, who feeds this swan in the mornings, has given him the name of "Pooh."  This is a very fine name for a swan, because if you call him and he doesn't come (which is a thing swans are good at), then you can pretend that you were just saying "Pooh! " to show how little you wanted him. Well, I should have told you that there are six cows who come down to Pooh's lake every afternoon to drink, and of course they say "Moo " as they come. So I thought to myself one one fine day, walking with my friend Christopher Robin, "Moo rhymes with Pooh !" Surely there is a bit of poetry to be got out of that?"
Well then I begin to think about this ship on the swan on his lake; and at first I thought how lucky it was that that his name  was Pooh; and then I didn't think about that any more .  .  . and the poem came quite differently from what I had intended.   .   .   . and all I can say for it now is that, if it hadn't been for Christopher Robin, I shouldn't have written it ; which indeed, is all I can say for any of the others.
So this is why these verses go about together, because they are all friends of Christopher Robin; and if I left out one because it was not quite like the one before, then I should have to leave out the one before because it was not quite like the next, which would be disappointing for them.
Then there is another thing.   You may wonder sometimes who is supposed to be saying the verses. Is it the Author, that strange but uninteresting person, or is it Christopher Robin, or some other boy or girl, or Nurse, or Hoo? If I'd have followed Mr. Wordsworth's plan, I could have explained this each time; but, as it is, you will have to decide for yourselves. If you are not quite sure, then it is probably Hoo. I don't know if you have ever met Hoo, but he is one of those curious children who look four on Monday, and eight on Tuesday, and are really twenty eight on Saturday; and you never know  whether it is the day that he can pronounce his " r's "
 He had a great deal to do with these verses. In fact, you might say that this book is entirely the unaided work of Christopher Robin, Hoo, and Mr. Shepard, who drew the pictures. They have said "Thank you " politely to each other several times, and now they say it to you for taking them into your house.
"Thank you so much for asking us.   We've come."
A. A. M.
All very, very strange and yet somehow I can see how Pooh suddenly became the bear we all 
know and love. Wonderful ...

Pooh
And being as we have listened to the words of A. A. Milne, I think it is only fair to tell you a little of the life of Ernest H Shepard, who not only illustrated the Milne Books he also famously illustrated Kenneth Graham's books as well as many more.
Ernest Shepard was born the son of a architect, in London on December 10, 1879. As a child, Ernest had two big hobbies - watching the soldiers practice, and drawing. He decided on a career as an artist and was encouraged by his father. After attending a special art school, Shepard entered the Royal Academy School in 1897 as one of it's youngest students, and earned two scholarships while there.illustration by Ernest H Shepard

Shepard met Florence Chaplin at the Academy and married her in 1904. They had two children - Graham and Mary. Shepard always dreamed of working for Punch, since it was the premier showcase in Britain for sketch work. After trying unsuccessfully many times, in 1907 he finally had two drawings accepted by the magazine. Gradually, more and more work was accepted, but he still was not yet working for them on a regular basis.

In the First World War Shepard enlisted in the Army, rose to the rank of Major and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in the field. During these years, he sent jokes about the battles to Punch. Shortly after his return from the front, he was invited to join the Punch Editorial Table. He had finally realised his dream of working for Punch. Here he met E.V. Lucas, who would later introduce him to Alan Milne.

Drawing of Pooh watching over Eeyore

E.V. Lucas named Shepard when A. A. Milne asked him to recommend someone to illustrate some children's verses he would be publishing in Punch. At first Milne was not keen to use Shepard, but when his illustrations were a success Shepard went on to illustrate all of the Pooh books. Despite the success of the partnership, the two men only had a working relationship and never became close friends.

Unfortunately Florence died in 1927 and Shepard remained unmarried for several years until in 1943 he married Norah Carrol. Shepard ceased to be a regular cartoonist at Punch in 1949, but continued to provide drawings monthly. He was sacked in 1953 by Malcom Muggeridge, the new editor.

Throughout the rest of his career Shepard illustrated books for many leading authors of the period, including several for Kenneth Grahame. Shepard was in fact the fourth illustrator to draw the characters for 'Wind in the Willows,' but the only one who managed to capture the essence of the animals that Grahame had in mind. He remained busy as an illustrator his whole life and even managed to write two children's books of his own in his mid eighties. These were titled 'Ben and Brook' (1966) and 'Betsy and Joe' (1967). Though the books didn't gain much popularity, their publication gave Shepard great pleasure. Shepard also coloured his original line drawings for new editions of 'Winnie the Pooh' (1973) and 'The House at Pooh Corner' (1974). 'The Pooh Story Book', released in 1976, contained new line and colour pictures by Shepard.Drawing of Tigger

In his ninetieth year, Ernest Shepard donated 300 of his preliminary sketches for the Pooh drawings to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where they were exhibited in 1969. These drawings have since been exhibited in many galleries in Britain, as well as in Holland and Australia, and have now been published as 'The Pooh Sketch Book,' edited by Brian Sibley. Ernest Shepard died in 1976, in the fiftieth anniversary year of 'Winnie-the-Pooh.'

Posted 19:39

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