Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day and Night and Other Dreams

Sometimes you find a children's book that is so special, you never outgrow it.

Day and Night and Other Dreams, a slim volume of classic children's poetry, is one such book. It came with a cassette tape of the poems set to music sung by the Matanovic family, Nancy Rumbel, and friends. I bought the book/tape set for Emma when she was four years old after discovering it in a clearance bin for three or four dollars. I was attracted by the soft pink cover of the book, the romantic front cover illustration, and the description: "Performed by a Fine and Curious Company of Singers and Players".

So sweet and pure and joyful is the singing on the companion tape, that I believe it scooped up the poems like so many magical seeds and planted them deep in Emma's soul, establishing a secret bounty there of childlike joy and innocence that continues to sustain her, even now that she is 17. She still listens to the tape, still sings the songs in the midst of her daily activities, still lingers over the classical paintings illustrating the book, still finds new connections with the poems.

For instance, after a horrible experience of being dangerously dehydrated while she was in Italy this summer, she had new insight into "Little White Lily" by George MacDonald; these two verses particularly fit:

Little white Lily

Droopeth with pain,

Waiting and waiting

For the wet rain.

Little white Lily

Holdeth her cup;

Rain is fast falling

And filling it up.

Little white Lily

Said, "Good again,

When I am thirsty

To have nice rain;

Now I am stronger,

Now I am cool;

Heat cannot burn me,

My veins are so full!"

Despite their power, I don't think these poems could have become part of her the way they have if we had not been living on 18 acres of mostly-wooded property in Louisiana--with a full complement of wild and domesticated animals--for the most important years of Emma's childhood. The poetry and the music and the wildness seemed to join hands and form an enchanted circle that moved protectively around her, while she, barefoot and fairy like, danced in its center.

As she "danced", I re-connected with my own childhood in the woods, which I wrote about in A Place of Enchantment.

It is strange to think how much Day and Night enriches our lives, and yet it was only by chance that it found its way to us, I think. . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From the beginning, my favorite song has been "I've Been Roaming" because it seemed to describe Emma so perfectly. I discovered last week that it actually was first published in a book called Lilian of the Vale. I read a portion of it before and after Lilian sings "I've Been Roaming," and was amazed at how much Lilian reminded me of my Emmaline, even down to escaping through her window at night to wander in the moonlight. As her mother, I worry and scold her for this. It's my job. Secretly, though, the girl in me, the girl of the woods and bayou, dreams of joining her. In our nightgowns, holding hands, we would go singing through the newly-mown hayfield to dive into the moon floating ghostlike on the quiet pond.

"Lady Moon, Lady Moon, where are you roving?"

"Over the Sea."

"Lady Moon, Lady Moon, whom are you loving?"

"All that love me."


Anonymous said...

Could you please tell me what other poems are in this book? I also grew up with it, but cannot find the book or cassette. I'd like to at least find the poems again.
Thank you.

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm sorry I am late responding, but I will publish a post tomorrow with the information you seek.

Best wishes,

cdl said...

Dear Wendy--I found your blog while searching for this wonderful tape. We have the book "Day and Night and Other Dreams" but sadly our tape died. We bought this wonderful collection from Green Tiger Press in 1986 San Diego when my daughter was a baby. Now she is pregnant and want to give her the tape for her baby, but cannot find one anywhere. There are places that make CDs from cassette tapes. I would happily pay for your time to do this from your tape, and of course for the conversion service. Would you consider doing this? Hopefully, Carol cdlemei@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Dear Wendy,

Like Carol, I also discovered your blog while searching for this tape and would be so very happy to have a CD for my granddaughter.
I have sent a separate email to Carol and hope to hear from either one of you.
With all best wishes and many thanks,

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Lovers of Day and Night,

I do plan to get the mp3 done and make it available. I can't, as much as I would like to, go into the CD distribution business. Good luck to all in procuring the music. And thanks for commenting. Hopefully somebody will see the interest and re-issue the music on CD.

God bless you all.

Elaine said...

Is an MP3 available? I also have an old book but cannot locate the CD I once had made from the tape.

Karin said...

Hey all! You might be interested that their first two albums - 'Good Morning, Good Night' and 'On the Way to Somewhere' - have just been re-released in digital format!


So nice to see others that love this music. :)

Rebekah Waldorff said...

Hello, I am one of the children that grew up listening to and reading the poems and songs of Day and Night and Other Dreams. :) I have searched intermittently(to no avail)in the past for a copy of the music. But today, thanks to the information from your blog, I managed to find both albums on itunes. It appears that the songs of Night and Day were combined from both albums. I'm so excited now that I can enjoy and share this music once more. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/good-morning-good-night/id737324036

Lorene Palm said...

Hi, Wendy, We are so delighted to have read this blog post. Our family encountered this music "by chance" when my sister sent me a recording of some stories my father had made. She had extra space on the tape so added music from Night and Day. She taped it from a friend's tape, but had no access to the original. We have searched in vain for the source and several times have ordered the book, hoping the tape was with it, to no avail. Today when I was sorting through some books, I came across the poetry book and noticed the words "A Fine and Curious Company of Singers and Players." Using those words to search, I came across your blog posting. I was delighted to find others who were also enchanted by this same music--and to finally find a source where we could locate it. Thank you so very much! My children will be thrilled!