Three Lambs, by Liam O’Flaherty. I liked the way he tells us Michael is 12 through action—he tears his jumper climbing over a fence, but that’s okay because he’ll get a new one on his 13th birthday. This is an absolutely delightful story about a young boy going out to watch a black sheep lambing. It’s delightful because of the boy’s language, his aim to be given pancakes as a reward for seeing the lambs born, and because he calmly and gently helps the sheep when she struggles, and knows what to do.
Why is the sheep black? Is she a metaphor for black people, or for people who are discriminated against and looked down on?
William Blake, The Ecchoing Green from Songs of Innocence. Another happy poem with the sun making the skies happy and merry bells welcoming the spring, and children playing until at the end of the day they’re too weary. This doesn’t seem to scan as well as the Introduction, and the rhythm is a bit uneven. The notes say Blake’s spelling is ‘idiosyncratic’. Well, maybe that’s being kind and maybe he couldn’t spell and couldn’t afford a dictionary!
Daniel Defoe (1661-1731), The Education of Women (from the Harvard Classics book). Basically, Defoe laments that women of his time are rarely educated, and he thinks all women would benefit from education, that men would also benefit from the same, and he looks forward to the time when it will happen. A feminist? I think so, even though he says women should be educated just so they will be more fit to be companions of men. Hey! This was written around 300 years ago, and that makes him far ahead of his time. Here is a quote: ‘If knowledge and understanding had been useless additions to the sex, GOD Almighty would never have given them capacities; for he made nothing needless.’ And this gem (pardon the pun): ‘The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond; and must be polished, or the lustre of it will never appear.’
I wish those who still haven’t caught up, like the Taliban and the leaders of countries like Saudi Arabia, would read this 300-year-old essay and realise how backward they really are. He’s just given me more impetus to keep on with Ray Bradbury’s challenge.
I’ve typed up and edited the story I wrote on day 1. It’s a comical ghost story (yes that is a pun!)