Saturday, June 25, 2011

My First Book

The day after I was born, my Aunt Kathy gave me my very first book—“A Child’s Treasury of Poems,” edited by Mark Daniel. She inscribed it inside the cover with my name, “4-30-87,” and “Love, Aunt Kathy” in blue, cursive letters. My mom kept it away from me when I was really little, to save it from baby teeth, saliva, and ferocious fingers thinking that page-ripping was a blast. But I think she started to put it into my hands when I was around five. I would hold it reverently. It’s so beautiful—mossy green cover (now well-worn), about an inch think, properly substantial page paper. I would open it and feast my eyes upon the gorgeous illustrations--full-color reproductions of Edwardian and Victorian era oil paintings. Then, I would read each poem or rhyme and savor the feel of the words connected in just the right way. This was my first experience of beauty that I remember.

I still have little torn pieces of lined paper marking my favorite poems. I would go for the longer and more epic ones. I did really like the ones by Christina Georgina Rossetti and I just thought her name was so very lovely. I had a thing for names, too. I snuck my parent’s dog-eared, baby-name book into my room and would hide, looking at the names. I was a weird kid.

Anyway, my mom would also read the poems to us and we memorized a few:

                Whether the weather be fine,
                Or whether the weather be not,
                Whether the weather be cold,
                Or whether the weather be hot.
                We’ll weather the weather
                Whatever the weather,
                Whether we like it or not!

This poem and many many good ones were by this fabulous poet named Anon. We thought he was just great. So many poems/rhymes we just commonly knew, like “Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub” were actually by him! Every time his name would come up, we would wonder wide-eyed at how prolific he was and how famous so many of his poems had become. He probably wrote 60% of the poems in the book.  

Well, in high school, I was thumbing through the book and was reading the little biographies of the poets in the back. I was trying to find Mr. Anon, but lo! He was not in alphabetical order. I read through all the biographies and got to the end: “A Brief Note on Some of the Anonymous Verses.” After ruminating on this for a while, I blushed, laughed, and ran to go tell my mom. You know, they really should have put a period on “Anon.” to show that it was an abbreviation. At least, as far as I know, we never shared that he/she was our favorite poet. 

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