Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wisdom From Pooh

A few weeks ago I ventured into the depths of the attic of our old house, the one I lived in since I was nine years old. During my moves across the ocean and back again over the last several years, boxes labeled "Michelle's Stuff" (a.k.a. miscellaneous things that didn't fit in my suitcases) waited for me in the attic. One of those boxes had "Michelle's Books" scrawled in black marker on the side. It's a small collection, actually, of beloved books that I couldn't bear to give away but couldn't take with me to Asia or Europe. Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Helen Keller's autobiography - "The Story of My Life." Corrie ten Boom's "A Prisoner And Yet..." And "The House At Pooh Corner" by A.A. Milne.

Adventures of Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Rabbit have been my nightly entertainment this week. I love the way A.A. Milne uses language and the way he captures the feeling of childhood. I love Pooh's poems about snow and fir-cones and honey-pots. And I must confess, I cried at the end of the book when Christopher Robin says goodbye to Pooh - "Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred." It just doesn't seem right that Christopher Robin has to grow up and leave all his friends and adventures in Pooh Corner. But I suppose we all have to grow up sometime. Even Pooh-bear, who is, after all, a bear of very little brain, seems to understand and accept this somehow.

Here are some of my favorite moments from "The House At Pooh Corner."

On Being Clever:
"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."

On Writing Poetry:
"But it isn't Easy," said Pooh to himself, as he looked at what had once been Owl's House. "Because Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you."

One day, when Pooh was walking towards this bridge, he was trying to make up a piece of poetry about fir-cones, because there they were, lying about on each side of him, and he felt singy. So he picked a fir-cone up, and looked at it, and said to himself, "This is a very good fir-cone, and something ought to rhyme to it."

(Rabbit to Pooh, after Pooh has sung him a song)
"Did you make that song up?"
"Well, I sort of made it up," said Pooh. "It isn't Brain," he went on humbly, "because You Know Why, Rabbit; but it comes to me sometimes."
"Ah!" said Rabbit, who never let things come to him, but always went and fetched them.

(As Pooh is finishing reciting his new poem about Tigger)
But whatever his weight in pounds, shillings, and ounces
He always seems bigger because of his bounces.

"And that's the whole poem," he said. "Do you like it, Piglet?"
"All except the shillings," said Piglet. "I don't think they ought to be there."
"They wanted to come in after the pounds," explained Pooh, "so I let them. It is the best way to write poetry, letting things come."
"Oh, I didn't know," said Piglet.