“Goodnight Moon” Creator Margaret Sensible Brown’s Little-Recognized Philosophical Kids’s Ebook About Love and Loss – The Marginalian

The Dark Wood of the Golden Birds: “Goodnight Moon” Author Margaret Wise Brown’s Little-Known Philosophical Children’s Book About Love and Loss

Margaret Sensible Brown (Could 23, 1910–November 13, 1952) by no means did something half-heartedly. When the love of her life fell mortally in poor health, she did the toughest factor in life — going through the loss of life of a beloved whereas remaining a pillar for his or her passage — the easiest way she knew how: she wrote her a love letter within the type of a kids’s e-book.

On the final day of spring in 1950, three years after Goodnight Moon had enraptured the world with its brilliant playfulness, The Darkish Wooden of the Golden Birds (public library) appeared, somber and numinous with its elegiac prose, and its haunting duotone of otherworldly greens and yellows, and its the easy dedication: “For Michael Unusual.”

Michael Unusual and Margaret Sensible Brown

Within the a long time since, the e-book has fallen out of print in a tradition that has no room and no language for grief, and no tolerance for the darkest dimensions of life, which crack open our vastest capability for gentle. It could take an act of countercultural braveness and resistance for a contemporary writer to carry this work of unusual magnificence and tenderness again into the fold of life.

Illustrated by Brown’s longtime collaborator and good friend Leonard Weisgard, and written together with her singular poetics, the story begins:

It occurred within the woods
a very long time in the past.
At midnight woods
the place the golden birds
sang all by means of the night time
and the day.

This magic forest grows behind the home of “an outdated man with white hair and inexperienced eyes,” who’s “by no means a yr older or a day youthful,” and who retains honeybees and grows asparagus for a residing.

The individuals who flock to his home for honey and asparagus by no means dare enterprise previous the sting of “the wooden of the golden birds,” believing it to be a magic wooden — “the unknown from which there is no such thing as a return”; of the few courageous souls who’ve wandered in, none ever returned. The outdated man himself by no means goes into the darkish wooden, however generally — at night time, or early within the morning — he can hear the golden birds sing.

And of their track he heard all that was lovely to listen to,
the ringing of bells
and the soughing of the wind;
he heard the echo that’s hidden in a sea shell,
the deep sea music;
he heard laughter and singing
and the songs his mom sang to him way back.

However even he’s too afraid of the track to enter the woods in search of its supply.

Whereas she was writing the e-book, Margaret Sensible Brown was watching her beloved flicker out and in of consciousness. She will need to have questioned concerning the thriller of all of it, concerning the harrowing unreality into which Michael vanished when she slipped right into a coma her medical doctors at first took for everlasting loss of life.

Someday a girl had gone into the woods
just a bit approach. However when she got here out
she spoke in phrases that not one of the different folks
might perceive.
And she or he was by no means herself once more.
However the individuals who had gone solely to the sting of the woods
had heard the golden birds
and had been happier for listening to their track.

Someday, a brother and a sister whose dad and mom have died wander to the outdated man’s home.

The outdated man was sorry for them;
and when he heard their glad laughter
and noticed how they ran with the bees from flower to flower
he cherished them.
And he took them to dwell with him
and gave them a house.

The kids discover happiness working within the outdated man’s backyard, however as time unspools, they develop an increasing number of curious concerning the darkish wooden of the golden birds. The bees, they purpose, go into the magic forest daily and never solely return, however return with wildflower nectar for honey that “makes the sick folks properly and the unhappy folks glad,” “the sluggish folks quick and the noisy folks quiet.” There appears to be a secret magical vitality in the dead of night wooden, however none of its enchantments beckon the kids extra powerfully than the track of its golden birds.

In a passage revealing Margaret Sensible Brown as one of many nice unsung poets of the 20th century, sonorous together with her secret devotion to poetry, the boy tells his sister:

At night time after I hear them singing far off,
I keep in mind unusual and quiet issues,
the best way the wind bends the grasses
because it blows throughout the sector.
I hear the sound of the rain,
I keep in mind the nice and cozy daylight and the lengthy night shadows.
I consider the gray night time and of the huge sea
and I keep in mind all I’ve forgotten
that ever made me glad or unhappy.

When the kids plead with the outdated man to condone their enterprise into the woods, he solely reminds him that it’s not to be completed, for nobody has ever returned. After they ask what lies past the darkish wooden, for there’s certainly an different facet, he merely tells them that “on the opposite facet of the darkish wooden is the land that nobody is aware of.” After they press on with their restive curiosity, he grows offended, then falls silent, falls in poor health.

Daily, the kids develop an increasing number of frightened concerning the outdated man, till they resolve that just one factor might revive him.

If solely he might hear as soon as extra
the track of the golden birds…
Then he would keep in mind all he has forgotten…
He would keep in mind the sky and the daylight on the grass.
He would keep in mind the kindness in folks’s hearts
and the candy drowsy buzzing of the season of the bees.

And so, the boy decides that he should carry the track of the golden birds to the outdated man. One morning, “with out telling anybody goodby,” he leaves the home and heads for the woods.

Days go by and he doesn’t return.

His sister busies herself within the backyard to maintain the tears of loneliness and anticipatory loss from coming.

In a delicate nod to The Quiet Noisy Ebook, which she had printed earlier that yr, additionally illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, Brown writes:

Then got here the time of the good silence.
No winds blew
and even the bees appeared to cease their buzzing.
The solar was heat on the earth.
The outdated man slept
and all of the little lady might hear
was the sound of her broom
as she swept the home.
There had by no means been such a quiet day earlier than.
It was the quietest day on the earth.

The night time got here on
extra softly than ever
with taking pictures stars
and no winds blowing.
There have been no colours now,
every part was darkish within the night time,
and the night time was black
and heavy and silent.

Then, simply earlier than daybreak, a voice comes from the wooden, “clear and extra golden than the track of the golden birds.” The little lady hears it in her sleep, and smiles; listening at his window, the outdated man “remembers all he had forgotten and knew greater than he had ever identified earlier than.” So it’s that Margaret Sensible Brown contours the outlines of the transformation, however she lets the reader fill it in with their very own which means, for it’s a transcendent expertise she writes of, and half a century earlier than her William James had certified ineffability as certainly one of the 4 options of transcendent experiences.

The following day when the solar shone
on the home within the discipline of grass
it awakened the bees and the outdated man
and the little lady.
And it awakened the boy
who was as soon as extra asleep in his personal mattress.

He had returned with a golden feather piercing his coronary heart and the key data of the darkish wooden — the data of life in its totality, ravishing and savage — a magic forest through which darkness and light-weight are perpetually aflicker in a single enchantment.

Because the boy weeded the asparagus
there have been instances when he sang as he labored.
Typically his track was glad
because the birds within the air.
Typically his track was unhappy
like a spring mist within the night time;
or just like the depths of a lake at midday, very quiet.
However at all times the songs he sang have been such
that the individuals who got here to purchase within the afternoon
stayed to hear
after which needed to hurry house to their suppers earlier than darkish.
And as they walked alongside the paths to their houses
the winds appeared softer
and the night star appeared brighter
for his or her having listened to the boy’s track.

Michael Unusual lived by means of that summer season earlier than getting into the darkish wooden within the final weeks of autumn by no means to return, remaining, as each nice love does, printed on the track of Margaret Sensible Brown’s life.

I am Christian Nnakuzierem Alozie (Kris Kuzie Alozie). A native of Eziama Nneato in Umunneochi LGA, Abia State, Nigeria. I am an inspirational writer and a motivational speaker. And above all, a lover of charity.

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