Eleanor Farjeon

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Of what use to destroy the children of evil? It is evil itself we must destroy at the roots.
Morning has broken,
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.

Eleanor Farjeon (13 February 18815 June 1965) was an English author of children's stories and plays, poetry, biography, history and satire.

Quotes[edit]

  • It’s no use crying over spilt evils. It’s better to mop them up laughing.
    • Gypsy and Ginger (1920)

Pan-Worship and Other Poems (1908)[edit]

Dowloadable Epub & PDF at Google Books - Download at Internet Archive
Thou God of stone, I have a craving in me
For knowledge of thee as thou wert in old
Enchanted twilights in Arcadia.
Of troubles know I none,
Of pleasures know I many —
I rove beneath the sun
Without a single penny.
You think you hold the core and kernel
Of all the world beneath your crust,
Old dial? But when you lie in dust,
This vine will bloom, strong, green, and proved.
Love is eternal.
  • In Arcady there lies a crystal spring
    Ring'd all about with green melodious reeds
    Swaying seal'd music up and down the wind.

    Here on its time-defaced pedestal
    The image of a half-forgotten God
    Crumbles to its complete oblivion.
    • Pan-Worship
  • O evanescent temples built of man
    To deities he honoured and dethroned!
    Earth shoots a trail of her eternal vine
    To crown the head that men have ceased to honour.

    Beneath the coronal of leaf and lichen
    The mocking smile upon the lips derides
    Pan's lost dominion; but the pointed ears
    Are keen and prick'd with old remember'd sounds.
    All my breast aches with longing for the past!
    Thou God of stone, I have a craving in me
    For knowledge of thee as thou wert in old
    Enchanted twilights in Arcadia.
    • Pan-Worship
  • Of troubles know I none,
    Of pleasures know I many —
    I rove beneath the sun
    Without a single penny.
    • Vagrant Songs, II
  • Old sundial, you stand here for Time:
    For Love, the vine that round your base
    Its tendrils twines, and dares to climb
    And lay one flower-capped spray in grace
    Without the asking on your cold
    Unsmiling and unfrowning face.
    • Time And Love
  • Upon your shattered ruins where
    This vine will flourish still, as rare,
    As fresh, as fragrant as of old.
    Love will not crumble.
    • Time And Love
  • Dropt tears have hastened your decay
    And brought you one step nigher death;
    And you have heard, unthrilled, unmoved,
    The music of Love's golden breath
    And seen the light in eyes that loved.
    You think you hold the core and kernel
    Of all the world beneath your crust,
    Old dial? But when you lie in dust,
    This vine will bloom, strong, green, and proved.
    Love is eternal.
    • Time And Love

Nursery Rhymes of London Town (1916)[edit]

King's Cross!
What shall we do?
His Purple Robe
Is rent in two!
  • King's Cross!
    What shall we do?
    His Purple Robe
    Is rent in two!
    • King's Cross
  • The little White Chapel
    Is ringing its bell
    With a ring-a-ding-dong,
    All day long
    • Whitechapel
  • Water, Loo! water, Loo! fetch me some water!
    There isn't a drop for a mile and a quarter!
    The ground is so hard and the ground is so dry
    I'm frightened my little red rose-bush will die.
    • Waterloo
  • In Fleet Street, in Fleet Street, the People are so fleet
    They barely touch the cobble-stones with their nimble feet!
    • Fleet Street

More Nursery Rhymes of London Town (1917)[edit]

My harp and I a-wandering
Went over Snowdon Mountain,
From Anglesey to Swansea Bay
It sang like any fountain.
  • Bugsby's reach is long as time,
    His reach is wide as wind is,
    He can pick you nettles in Greenwich Marsh
    And docks in the East Indies.
    • Bugsby's Reach
  • My harp and I a-wandering
    Went over Snowdon Mountain,
    From Anglesey to Swansea Bay
    It sang like any fountain.
    • The Welsh Harp
  • Out upon you, Jerry! Jerry, you're a pity!
    Jerry, turn about and plant a garden in the City!
    • The Garden City
  • Once she kissed me with a jest,
    Once with a tear —
    O where's the heart was in my breast,
    And the ring was in my ear?
    • Kentish Town

Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard (1922)[edit]

Full text online
He loved her, both for her fault and her redemption of it, more than he had ever thought that he could love her; for he had believed that in their kiss love had reached its uttermost. But love has no uttermost, as the stars have no number and the sea no rest.
  • Romance gathers round an old story like lichen on an old branch. And the story of Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard is so old now — some say a year old, some say even two. How can the children be expected to remember?
  • Every man's life (and … every woman's life), awaits the hour of blossoming that makes it immortal … love is a divinity above all accidents, and guards his own with extraordinary obstinacy.
  • No love-story has ever been told twice. I never heard any tale of lovers that did not seem to me as new as the world on its first morning.
  • I will fight for you, yes, and you will fight for me. And if you have sacrificed joy and courage and beauty and wisdom for my sake, I will give them all to you again; and yet you must also give them to me, for they are things in which without you I am wanting. But together we can make them.
  • 'In love there are no penalties and no payments, and what is given is indistinguishable from what is received.' And he bent his head and kissed her long and deeply, and in that kiss neither knew themselves, or even each other, but something beyond all consciousness that was both of them.
All the ill that is in us comes from fear, and all the good from love.
  • He loved her, both for her fault and her redemption of it, more than he had ever thought that he could love her; for he had believed that in their kiss love had reached its uttermost. But love has no uttermost, as the stars have no number and the sea no rest.
  • Of what use to destroy the children of evil? It is evil itself we must destroy at the roots.
  • Women are so strangely constructed that they have in them darkness as well as light, though it be but a little curtain hung across the sun. And love is the hand that takes the curtain down, a stronger hand than fear, which hung it up. For all the ill that is in us comes from fear, and all the good from love.
  • The world never knows, and cannot for the life of it imagine, what this man sees in that maid and that maid in this man. The world cannot think why they fell in love with each other. But they have their reason, their beautiful secret, that never gets told to more than one person; and what they see in each other is what they show to each other; and it is the truth. Only they kept it hidden in their hearts until the time came. And though you and I may never know why this lane is called Shelley's, to us both it will always be the greenest lane in Sussex, because it leads to the special secret I spoke of.

Morning Has Broken (1931)[edit]

This poem was set to music and became a widely used hymn and became further popularized by the performance of Cat Stevens on his album Teaser and the Firecat (1971) · Performance by Cat Stevens (1976)
Sweet the rain's new fall,
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
  • Morning has broken,
    Like the first morning,
    Blackbird has spoken
    Like the first bird.

    Praise for the singing!
    Praise for the morning!
    Praise for them springing
    Fresh from the Word!
  • Sweet the rain's new fall,
    Sunlit from heaven,
    Like the first dewfall
    On the first grass.
  • Praise with elation,
    Praise every morning,
    God's re-creation
    Of the new day!

The New Book of Days (1961)[edit]

He could not be captured,
He could not be bought,
His running was rhythm,
His standing was thought...
And only the poet
With wings to his brain
Can mount him and ride him
Without any rein,
The stallion of heaven,
The steed of the skies,
The horse of the singer
Who sings as he flies.
  • His tail was a fountain.
    His nostrils were caves.
    His mane and his forelock
    Were musical waves.
    He neighed like a trumpet.
    He cooed like a dove.
    He was stronger than terror
    And swifter than love.
    • Pegasus, St. 2, p. 181
  • He could not be captured,
    He could not be bought,
    His running was rhythm,
    His standing was thought;
    With one eye on sorrow
    And one eye on mirth,
    He galloped in heaven
    And gambolled on earth.

    And only the poet
    With wings to his brain
    Can mount him and ride him
    Without any rein,
    The stallion of heaven,
    The steed of the skies,
    The horse of the singer
    Who sings as he flies.

    • Pegasus, St. 3 & 4, p. 181

Quotes about Farjeon[edit]

I had forgotten who I was and where I lived. I was transported into a world of sunlight, of gay inconsequence, of emotional surprise, a world of poetry, delight, and humor. And I lived and took my joy in that rare world, until all too soon my reading was done. ~ J. D. Beresford
Eleanor Farjeon was quite right to tell children that the first day of spring is a return to Eden and this blackbird that sings is "like the first bird." And she was more than right in thinking that children would get it. ~ J. Ellsworth Kalas
Eleanor Farjeon’s world is construed of fantasy, romance, and an abounding yea-saying joy in the experience of life. It is the stuff that dreams are made of, and as dangerous as dynamite except for those who have genius in their blood, a compassionate heart, a sense of wonder at the multitudinous miracles to be met in one day’s living in this world, and the blessed proportion of wit, humor and nonsense. All these she has. ~ Frances Claire Sayers
  • I was a little overworked. I had been reading a great number of manuscripts in the preceding weeks, and the mere sight of typescript was a burden to me. But before I had read five pages of Martin Pippin, I had forgotten that it was a manuscript submitted for my judgment. I had forgotten who I was and where I lived. I was transported into a world of sunlight, of gay inconsequence, of emotional surprise, a world of poetry, delight, and humor. And I lived and took my joy in that rare world, until all too soon my reading was done.
    My most earnest wish is that there may be many minds and imaginations among the American people who will be able to share that pleasure with me. For every one who finds delight in this book I can claim as a kindred spirit.
    • J. D. Beresford, in the Introduction to Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard (1922)
  • I was touched and surprised when, one day in her eighties, she said a little sadly, yet with the confidence of one who can face her own limitations, "I have always tried to use what little talent I had to the full". This remark had to do with the statement in the preface to Silver-Sand and Snow, … that – "In my youth I dreamed of being a 'real' poet, but half way through my life that dream died, and whatever figments of it remained went into writing songs and verses for children."
  • Although her voice was faint she could still joke, for one day taking my hand she felt a large ring, which she raised close to her face for inspection. With a faint smile she whispered, "Ah, like Edith Sitwell I see."
    She was given the last rites by her priest and died on June 5th.
    Eleanor was buried in the romantic little churchyard which spans the side of Hampstead Hill between the Protestant church in Church Row and the Catholic church in Holly Walk. Her grave is generally smothered by a big rambler rose and is hard to discover. She was never keen on personal publicity.
    • Annabel Farjeon, her niece, on her last days, in Morning Has Broken : A Biography of Eleanor Farjeon (1986), p. 289
  • Great Britain has blessed the world of children with a number of poets and storytellers. … But perhaps no one was more loved by children in the British Isles or published more books than Eleanor Farjeon. She once said that she was "singing songs before she could write, and even before she could speak, and as soon as she could guide a pencil she began to write them down." When she died in 1965 at the age of eighty-four, she had published more than eighty books of stories and poems for children.
    • J. Ellsworth Kalas, in All Creation Sings : The Voice of God in Nature (2010), Ch. 12 : Eden Every Morning
  • No doubt she wrote "Morning Has Broken" for children, since they were so surely her preferred audience, but it is as engaging a piece of theology as one is likely to find. … the quality of the day has a head start for me if the worship includes Farjeon's poem/hymn.
    Farjeon subtitled her poem "For the First Day of Spring." I suspect that the inspiration came to her on such a day, and I agree that it is a perfect way to enter that lovely season. But the wonder of the poem, of course, is that on such a day the poet found herself transported to the first days of creation. … So it is that I recommend Farjeon's poem not only for the first day of spring, but as the right way to begin every day. What better than to look out on a new day — any new day — as an unspoiled gift from the hand of God, "fresh from the Word"? … One wonders if Farjeon expected children to get it? Personally, I am confident she did. She wasn’t one to talk down to her readers, nor was she one to underestimate their capacities. I suspect she knew that what children lack in intellectual training they make up for in innate perceptiveness — and perhaps especially in their refusing to let literalism get in the way of reality.
    We adults lose our appetite for Eden. After so many battles with the real world, as we experience it, we find it hard to imagine that things can be perfect. So it is that a child can sing "Sweet the rain's new fall, / Sunlit from heaven," while adults calculate what the rain will do for market futures or for the prospects of this afternoon's ball game. I remember a summer morning nearly half a century ago. As I returned from a walk, I picked up an earthworm from the sidewalk and took it to my then four-year old daughter, who couldn't have a dog because the parsonage was next door to the church. "I've got a pet, I've got a pet!" she squealed. I wouldn't trade ten seconds of childish ecstasy for a full day of adult disillusionment. Eleanor Farjeon was quite right to tell children that the first day of spring is a return to Eden and this blackbird that sings is "like the first bird." And she was more than right in thinking that children would get it.
    • J. Ellsworth Kalas, in All Creation Sings : The Voice of God in Nature (2010), Ch. 12 : Eden Every Morning

External links[edit]

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