It’s raw and snowy and just a downright affront to my strongly held beliefs about when winter is supposed to end. What better time to dip back into the world of Rat and Mole? As I warned last month when I waxed enthusiastic about my new favorite children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, I wasn’t done basking in its glow. I was only pausing. Maybe it’s warm and spring-like where you are, but not here. I need this basking.
First, let us bask in such locutions as “poetry-things,” to wit:
“The afternoon sun was getting low as the Rat sculled gently homewards in a dreamy mood, murmuring poetry-things over to himself, and not paying much attention to Mole.”
Second, let us bask in the compactness of writing that bursts with imagery, describing Mole as “wet without and ashamed within” when he falls into the river after grabbing the boat sculls from Rat.
Third, how about the spot-on characterizations:
“The Rat was sitting on the river bank, singing a little song. He had just composed it himself, so he was very taken up with it. . . .”
Yes, of course.
Or try this:
“As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedge-row, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough. . . .”
Fourth, let us bask in the humor that is appetizingly dry and yet not steeped in irony, as in this line, delivered after several verses of Toad’s over-the-top song in praise of himself:
“There was a great deal more of the same sort, but too dreadfully conceited to be written down. These are some of the milder verses.”
“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb.”
“Then he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal. . . a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.”
This is all just so delicious in so many ways. And now I am done writing posts about The Wind in the Willows, I promise, at least for this season.
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