Saturday, March 04, 2006

In 1958, when Publisher Rene Julliard saw the first verses in Minou's childish scrawl, he thought he had found a literary prodigy even greater than his last discovery. Minou Drouet appeared in Time as one of the greatest literary finds of our century. In the years that followed she was considered a fraud, because the person who wrote this amazing book of poetry (that I found in my used bookstore) was only eight years old.

I could write hundreds of paragraphs about how we view children in our society. How it is impossible now, for people like Beethoven to exist because we tell kids all time, the definition of art. We expose them to limitations. The highest point of creativity is five years old—when we return to that place, without judgment, we are truly free to explore.

Tree that I Love by Minou Drouet

Tree that I love,
tree in my likeness,
so heavy with music
under the wind’s fingers
that turn your pages
like a fairy tale,
knowing like me
the voices of silence
that sways
the depth of your green locks
the quiver of your living hands
that I love
my all alone
lost like me
lost in the sky
lost in the mud
lacquered in the dancing light
by the rain
echo of wind’s grief
and birds’ joy
tree undressed by winter
for the first time I watch you.


Radish King said...

The highest point of creativity is five years old I agree that five is a very pure age as far as creativity goes. Perhaps even younger, when the child is still preliterate. Joseph Chilton Pearce writes extensively about it in his book The Magical Child, how a two year old child pushing a match box around and making engine noises believes that the match box is a car until that child begins reading, then there is a symbol (the word car) that interferes with the pure magic of the child. Now there is match box, car, and word. Things get complicated.

I've dealt with many, many musical prodigies, very young, as young as three. They can be amazingly proficient, technically speaking, but they lack the life experience (always) needed to play Beethoven, or Chopin or Schumann. Oddly, these children can often play Mozart brilliantly, but Mozart was a prodigy his entire life.

I think the same can be said of child-poets. They can certainly have an affinity with the world around them and with language, but they, too, lack life experience that allows them a deep well from which to draw. Thus the shallow themes (tree like a fairy tale etc.) of a Minou Drouet or the sweet pap of a Mattie Stepanek.

I guess I'm saying that the purest point of creativity is that which we have as children, but the highest point of creativity comes when we are adults and have lived and (yes) suffered, and loved and studied our art, and can allow ourselves freedom, intellectually and emotionally, to engage in that art, purely.

early hours of sky said...

Brilliant Rebecca, I agree. I think it is kind of like standing in both worlds at the same time. It is bringing in the depth and breadth. Sometimes I think love is like this too but it may be just me, being poetic.

Side note: Bella is running through the house with wings made from paper bags, not only wings but the whole body of a bird. She may not be a genius but I think she’s amazing.

David said...

Yes.. A paper bag has wings.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

A wonderful poem. Lots of beauty in it. Thanks for posting.

A guitarist I truly enjoy, Wes Montgomery, first picked up a guitar at 20. He's considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians. But, for that to work at 20, something from long before had to click and be in just the right spot when he was very young. And then there was the great hibernation... Then, beautiful music.

Lyle Daggett said...

I also like what Rebecca said here about this. I often think that one of the things many artists (in whatever medium) are trying to do, as adults, as experience increases, is to continuously preserve or salvage something of that pure creativity of childhood. To stay alive to that part of ourselves, to be able to feel that as well as to feel the adult experience. To be able to do both.(The "innocence and experience" William Blake talked about.)

Poetry begins before words. Before a poem (or a painting, or a piece of music, a dance) is possible, there must be that moment, however brief and fugitive, of contact with silence, with the void. The silence, the emptiness, are not empty. The silence speaks. Interpreting what it says, the obscure or chaotic language in which it speaks, is where our experience comes in, and (as anyone who has seriously attempted any kind of creative work knows) it can take a lifetime to learn.

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Molly said...

I read about this in the New Yorker.

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