Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A.A. Milne

The House at Pooh Corner
by A. A. Milne

Chapter X
In which
Christopher Robin and Pooh
Come to an Enchanted Place,
and We Leave Them There

Christopher Robin was going away. Nobody knew why he was going; nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew that Chrisopher Robin was going away. But somehow or other everybody in the Forest felt that it was happening at last. Even Smallest-of-All, a friend-and-relation of Rabbit's who thought he had once seen Christopher Robin's foot, but couldn't be sure because perhaps it as something else, even S.-of-A. told himself that Things were going to be Different...

This is my favorite Pooh story, and I can't read it without crying. It is the best account I have ever read of what it is like to come to the end of childhood. Milne has special material to work with, because of the sharp demarcation in Christopher Robin's life between being a pre-school child, having long hours of freedom in the outdoors, and going to school, particularly boarding school, where everything would be supervised and all activity would be purposeful. The magic of the Pooh stories is always that they are told by an adult who is looking at the world though the eyes of the child and his stuffed animals. Milne, in a way, is saying, childhood must end and that is sad--but at the same time the story itself is proof that the enchantment of those days does not have to be forgotten. And he's also showing that even if there is sadness in childhood's end, there is also joy in the adventure of life and growing up.

...Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was stil looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out "Pooh!"
"Yes?" said Pooh.
"when I'm --when----Pooh!"
"Yes, Christopher Robin?"
"I'm not going to do Nothing any more."
"Never again?"
"Well, not so much. They don't let you."
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
"Yes, Christopher Robin?" said Pooh helpfully.
"Pooh, when I'm--you know--when I'm not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?"
"Just Me?"
"Yes, Pooh."
"Will you be here too?"
"Yes, Pooh, I will be, really. I promise I will be, Pooh."
"That's good," said Pooh.
"Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred."
Pooh thought for a little.
"How old shall I be then?"
Pooh nodded.
"I promise," he said.

Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh's paw.
"Pooh," said Christopher Robin earnestly, "if I--if I'm not quite----" he stopped and tried again--"Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?"
"Understand what?"
"Oh, nothing." He laughed and jumped to his feet. "Come on!"
"Where?" said Pooh.
"Anywhere," said Christopher Robin.


yellojkt said...

That is so sad and sweet. I've never read the books. Unfortunately my knowledge of Pooh comes courtesy of Uncle Walt.

I am always startled by how much the kids a lot of childrens's books were based on grew up to hate their parents.

Anonymous said...

"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." -Wm Ross Wallace