Saturday, November 13, 2010

15th November David McCord (1897 - 1997)

Books fall open,
you fall in,
delighted where,
you've never been.
Hear voices
not once heard before,
Reach world through world,
through door on door.
Find unexpected
keys to things,
locked up beyond
True books ill venture,
Dare you out,
Whisper secrets,
Maybe shout,
across the gloom,
to you in need
Who hanker for
a book to read.

This poem Books Fall Open by David McCord invites children into the worlds offered in books and thus is very well known to librarians. There is often an illustrated poster-version up in their library somewhere. There is one in mine. David McCord wrote poetry for everyone, but is probably best-remembered for poems that he wrote for children. He wrote of childhood experiences such as visits to the doctor and dentist, the loss of a pet, climbing trees (Every Time I Climb a Tree) and the weather (Summer Shower). His poems are always a sensual feast and use words playfully (The Pickety Fence). There wouldn't be many children's poetry anthologies that would not contain a David McCord poem. He lived to 99 and in that time was instrumental in raising a substantial amount of money for Harvard University as well as writing prolifically and teaching writing.

''Whatever may be said about this small but graceful art,'' Mr. McCord wrote in an article for The New York Times in 1964, ''three things should be remembered: good poems for children are never trivial; they are never written without the characteristic chills and fever of a dedicated man at work; they must never bear the stigma of I am adult, you are a child.''

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