P. L. Travers
A great friend of mine at the beginning of our friendship (he was himself a poet) said to me very defiantly, "I have to tell you that I loathe children's books." And I said to him, "Well, won't you just read this just for my sake?" And he said grumpily, "Oh, very well, send it to me." I did, and I got a letter back saying: "Why didn't you tell me? Mary Poppins with her cool green core of sex has me enthralled forever."
A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.
For me there are no answers, only questions, and I am grateful that the questions go on and on. I don't look for an answer, because I don't think there is one. I'm very glad to be the bearer of a question.
If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads. He will push his helmet slightly to one side, scratch his head thoughtfully, and then he will point his huge white-gloved finger and say: "First to your right, second to your left, sharp right again, and you're there. Good-morning." And sure enough, if you follow his directions exactly, you will be there—right in the middle of Cherry-Tree Lane, where the houses run down one side and the Park runs down the other and the cherry-trees go dancing right down the middle. If you are looking for Number Seventeen—and it is more than likely that you will be, for this book is all about that particular house—you will very soon find it.
In the village where I live, in Sussex, we made our bonfire in the Vicarage paddock and every year, as soon as it was lit, the Vicar's cow would begin to dance. She danced while the flames rose up to the sky, she danced till the ashes were black and cold. And the next morning—it was always the same—the Vicar would have no milk for his breakfast. It is strange to think of a simple cow rejoicing at the saving of Parliament so many years ago.
It may be that to eat and be eaten are the same thing in the end. My wisdom tells me that this is probably so. We are all made of the same stuff, remember, we of the Jungle, you of the City. The same substance composes us—the tree overhead, the stone beneath us, the bird, the beast, the star—we are all one, all moving to the same end. Remember that when you no longer remember me, my child.
Mary Poppins herself had flown away, but the gifts she had brought would remain for always.
The Irish, as a race, have the oral tradition in their blood. A direct question to them is an anathema, but in other cases, a mere syllable of a hero's name will elicit whole chapters of stories.
The silky hush of intimate things, fragrant with my fragrance, steal softly down, so loth to rob me of my last dear concealment.
You can ask me anything you like about my work, but I'll never talk about myself.
You do not chop off a section of your imaginative substance and make a book specifically for children, for—if you are honest—you have no idea where childhood ends and maturity begins. It is all endless and all one.
What I want to know is this: Are the stars gold paper or is the gold paper stars?
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