Sunday, March 4, 2007

Bewitched, Entranced, Fascinated

The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame

Chapter 1--The River Bank

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man, who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

Chapter 7--The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they begin to see surfaces—meadows widespread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognized again under it.

Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and patiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches and dry water-ways. Embarking again and crossing over, they worked their way up the stream in this manner, while the moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river.

Levi was already familiar with the story line of The Wind in the Willows, so I thought it would be a fun book for us to share together. Little did I know what I was getting us into, not having read the unabridged version myself. Levi has a spectacular vocabulary for a just-turned-5-year-old, and we are 'bewitched, entranced, and fascinated' by the words and hypnotizing language of the story. Surely much of the wording goes over his head, but I know that he is hearing the beautiful sounds of quality writing. Stirring our imaginations, The Wind in the Willows is one more book to provide us with shared mental 'landscape.' I look forward to reading it again at a later stage is his education.


Poiema said...

I am reading this book through with my 3rd grader. The older children (Jr. High age) are listening in again even though they've heard it twice before. I love Graham's eloquent writing. My favorite part, I think, is when he describes the Mole's longing for home.Truly a classic!

Heidi said...

It is beautiful! My younger boys will be able to enjoy it with us in a few more years.