“Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well Maya Anglou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.” – Maya Angelou
Words That Sing
“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
This quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” sang to me when I was a young girl who had claimed her dead grandfather’s stuffed book cabinet. As did the final words of Lord Byron’s “Prisoner of Chillon:”
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage – and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch’d them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill – yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn’d to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: – even I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.
Even as a 10-year-old girl, I understood the words of Lord Byron’s sonnet, and even memorized it. It was simply something this girl did growing up, and occasionally still does although the memorizing doesn’t come as easy.
I also memorized Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky:” which I didn’t understand, but whose language enchanted me; “ and Alfred Noyes’ “The Admiral’s Ghost,” whose opening lines “I tell you a tale tonight, which a seaman told to me, with eyes that gleamed in the lantern light, and a voice as low as the sea” gave me goose bumps.
I can still recite Jabberwocky from memory, and much of the other two pieces. Their words sang to me. Also in my grandfather’s book cabinet were the works of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Jack London and many other classic authors, along with some not so classic. But not having television, video games or a cell phone, I read them all at a very young age.
While Jack London’s books encouraged my friendship with animals as a young girl, I didn’t know I was meant to be a writer until I was 25. I wonder if I ever would have known if it hadn’t been for my dead grandfather’s book cabinet.
Bean Pat: Get Your Own Coffee http://tinyurl.com/o7spuxw As a woman fighting for job equality back when females were breaking into good-old-boy worker conclaves, I was fortunate to never be asked by a male colleague, or a boss, to get them coffee, or I might have responded much the same. But just to emphasize my equality, I never brought home-baked goodies to the office, as some of the other women did, or volunteer to be the social organizer for office events. Perhaps this is why I really liked this blog