Posted by: duncandrews | April 25, 2011

Like the man in the sweety-shop

I’m re-reading George Macdonald’s ‘At the Back of the North Wind’ – one of my faves! – and came across this wonderful little insight into what a poet is. It’s between North Wind (who is, well, the North Wind) and a boy called Diamond (named after his father’s favourite horse, Big Diamond). Sound weird? Well, yes. But it’s good!

“But look there!” she resumed. “Do you see a boat with one man in it– a green and white boat?”

“Yes; quite well.”

“That’s a poet.”

“I thought you said it was a bo-at.”

“Stupid pet! Don’t you know what a poet is?”

“Why, a thing to sail on the water in.”

“Well, perhaps you’re not so far wrong. Some poets do carry people over the sea. But I have no business to talk so much. The man is a poet.”

“The boat is a boat,” said Diamond.

“Can’t you spell?” asked North Wind.

“Not very well.”

“So I see. A poet is not a bo-at, as you call it. A poet is a man who is glad of something, and tries to make other people glad of it too.”

“Ah! now I know. Like the man in the sweety-shop.”

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