Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 13- My favorite book about writing

Say what? My favorite... WHAT?

Well, let us bend the rules slightly.

I have a nonfiction and a novel.

"The Alphabet Makers"
(Currently out of print. Get it while you can!)

My sister gave me this book for my birthday. It chronicles the history of the written word, the alphabets that have been created throughout the years and how they all work. Extremely fascinating for an armchair linguist like myself.
...Can one be an armchair linguist? It's not like it's a physical pursuit. Hrm.

As it is presented by the JAARS Museum of the Alphabet (JAARS being tech support for Wycliffe Bible Translators), it also delves into the necessity of alphabets when translating the Scripture. :-)

"Little Women"

No, it's not strictly about writing, but Jo has a pen in her hand more often than not. When I was younger, this was my favorite book. I had a lot in common with Jo- neither of us quite felt as though we fit in our families, both of us suffered from lack of good (or even interested, in my case) actors and resources, and both of us had a huge inclination to storytelling.

When I was in elementary school, my friends and I had an American Girl Club. We made foods and crafts from the American Girl books, and learned about the various eras.
One Christmas, we had a talent show. For my talent I wore my Kirsten dress (as close to Civil War as I could get), carried my beautifully large copy of Little Women, and recited "In the Garret". Even today it stirs my heart with familiar comforts.

Four little chests all in a row,
Dim with dust, and worn by time,
All fashioned and filled, long ago,
By children now in their prime.
Four little keys hung side by side,
With faded ribbons, brave and gay
When fastened there, with childish pride,
Long ago, on a rainy day.
Four little names, one on each lid,
Carved out by a boyish hand,
And underneath there lieth hid
Histories of the happpy band
Once playing here, and pausing oft
To hear the sweet refrain,
That came and went on the roof aloft,
In the falling summer rain.

Meg on the first lid, smooth and fair.
I look in with loving eyes,
For folded here, with well-known care,
A goodly gathering lies,
The record of a peaceful life
Gifts to gentle child and girl,
A bridal gown, lines to a wife,
A tiny shoe, a baby curl.
No toys in this first chest remain,
For all are carried away,
In their old age, to join again
In another small Meg’s play.
Ah, happy mother! Well I know
You hear, like a sweet refrain,
Lullabies ever soft and low
In the falling summer rain.

Jo on the next lid, scratched and worn,
And within a motley store
Of headless dolls, of schoolbooks torn,
Birds and beasts that speak no more,
Spoils brought home from the fairy ground
Only trod by youthful feet,
Dreams of a future never found,
Memories of a past still sweet,
Half-writ poems, stories wild,
April letters, warm and cold,
Diaries of a wilful child,
Hints of a woman early old,
A woman in a lonely home,
Hearing, like a sad refrain
Be worthy, love, and love will come,
In the falling summer rain.

My Beth! the dust is always swept
From the lid that bears your name,
As if by loving eyes that wept,
By careful hands that often came.
Death cannonized for us one saint,
Ever less human than divine,
And still we lay, with tender plaint,
Relics in this household shrine
The silver bell, so seldom rung,
The little cap which last she wore,
The fair, dead Catherine that hung
By angels borne above her door.
The songs she sang, without lament,
In her prison-house of pain,
Forever are they sweetly blent
With the falling summer rain.

Upon the last lid’s polished field
Legend now both fair and true
A gallant knight bears on his shield,

Amy in letters gold and blue.
Within lie snoods that bound her hair,
Slippers that have danced their last,
Faded flowers laid by with care,
Fans whose airy toils are past,
Gay valentines, all ardent flames,
Trifles that have borne their part
In girlish hopes and fears and shames,
The record of a maiden heart
Now learning fairer, truer spells,
Hearing, like a blithe refrain,
The silver sound of bridal bells
In the falling summer rain.

Four little chests all in a row,
Dim with dust, and worn by time,
Four women, taught by weal and woe
To love and labor in their prime.
Four sisters, parted for an hour,
None lost, one only gone before,
Made by love’s immortal power,
Nearest and dearest evermore.
Oh, when these hidden stores of ours
Lie open to the Father’s sight,
May they be rich in golden hours,
Deeds that show fairer for the light,
Lives whose brave music long shall ring,
Like a spirit-stirring strain,
Souls that shall gladly soar and sing
In the long sunshine after rain.

1 comment:

  1. There is indeed such a thing as an "armchair linguist" but the meaning is not quite the one you use. Noam Chomsky, the "father of modern linguisticts", has been called such, in that he sits in his office and uses his incredible brain to theorise about language instead of going out and doing empirical research. Perhaps you could call yourself an amatuer (in the non-pejorative sense of the word) or lay linguist?

    I'd love to get a copy of that book (*puts it on her after-I-get-to-Oxford wishlist*). I read a similar book a few years ago, but gave up when it started spouting untruths about the Hebrew God. It was partly an interest in alphabets that got me into linguistics in the first place, and we study far too little of them for my liking.