The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell


Is there anything so nice 
As curling up 
With a lovely book
A cup of tea
And something sweet…
*
Seven chapters long,
Reminds me of a week of days
How much longer it must have taken than that to create the tale,
To watch it become more than mere words
Illustration by Maurice Sendak

The mother, the father and the boy
Were shipwrecked on a deserted island
Time passed
As time does,
Whether there are clocks to mark it or not.
The mother passed
The father passed 
And, the boy was alone
But, he was no longer the boy
He was the hunter now

*
Evening after evening 
Her soft voice 
Called him to the shore
And to her song
Where the alone of him
Met the sea of her
And 
Lapped at his heart
As waves that wet the sand
And make it their very own

So, the mermaid 
Who had spent her whole life 
Swimming away from things
Left her watery world
To be with the hunter
In their island home
Now, they were two

*
Time passed 
As time does
And the hunter found the cub
The baby who would grow to be the brown bear
The hunter brought him home
The sticky honey loving bear 
Who curled up by the fire to sleep
Now, they were three
*
Time passed 
As time does
And the hunter found the kitten
The baby who would grow to be the lynx
The hunter brought him home
The playful purring lynx 
Who loved to give you somethings 
And get you to go to somewheres 
Now, they were four


Time passed 
As time does
And the lynx found a boy  
Who would become The boy
*
But, for now 
He was a crying baby in a shipwreck,
On that self same shore
Where the hunter had once been the boy in the shipwreck 
Where the calling song was sung
Where the mermaid left the sea
And the hunter had carried her home
Yes, that self same shore
With the heart-lapping waves


So with the help of the bear,
The lynx brought the boy to their home 
The one overlooking the sea
The hunter, the mermaid, the bear, the lynx and the boy
Now, were five
Just as one head, two hands and two feet
Are five
Held together by home and by heart
*
Time passed 
As time does..
…in every line of the tale
There was the whisper of the waves
On the shipwrecked island shore
Singing the song of belonging
Of
The boy, the lynx, the bear, the mermaid and the hunter
Who lived and loved
Who loved and lived
As time passed
As time does
For now and for evermore…


There were no a’s in this tale 
As an a could be anyone
Any hunter, any mermaid, any bear, any lynx, any boy
And there were no anyones in this tale
There were only someones
*
There were no names in this tale
But, names were not needed
Nor were they missed
I knew each someone well
As well as they knew each other
*
The hunter only ever hunted for one thing really,
What do You think it was…
And which The are You…

*

I recently read The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell.   This is my own retelling of it and how it came to find a home in the heart of me. It’s a charming story written in 1965 with a few very sweet illustrations by Maurice Sendak.  At the library it is shelved in the children’s section, and that is where it found me…

****
ellie894 October 14, 2019
Jarrell, Randall. The Animal Family. New York: Pantheon Books, 1965





92 thoughts on “come with me…I shall give you something and take you somewhere

    1. Very much so! I love the rainbow you shared 🌈. It is just right for this story. The mermaid struggles with the word “different” and what it means. Colors are a perfect note of that. Thank you! 🌈🌷🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The hunter hunted for companionship then?

    WOWW Suzanne! JUST WOW! THIS WAS SOO GORGEOUSS I….😍😍😭😭😭😭😭 AMAZING AMAZING AMAZINNGGGGG! I LOVEEEEE ITTT! YOUR WRITING IS BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD!! 😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️💕💕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes! Companionship, family, love, all of it. In the beginning of the story it tells of how he discovers things but then is sad that there’s no one to share it with. 🙁

      Thank you RAIN!!! You absolutely made my day!! I had just finished reading this book and was writing about it when I saw your post on beauty and the beast! We were both reading faery tales. 🥰 I’m really happy you liked this. Thank you so very much! Take care and Hugs!! 🥰❤️🤗❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YOU ARE MOST WELCOME, Suzanne!! It’s soo exciting that both of us were reading fairy tales!! 😍😍😍😱😱😍❤️ YAYYYYY!! You too take care!! Looking forward to more of your posts! ❤️

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I have to admit it took a while before I could detach from the photo of the dessert. I enlarged it to inspect the ingredients, got close to the computer to see if I could sniff it, licked the screen because, hey, you never know. Anyway, it was great but the best part was the writing that followed. I didn’t sniff it, though. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s super easy to make and never lasts long! Now there’s an idea whose time has come, scratch and sniff technology! Except for wet dog photos. I don’t think they’d be well received. 😄. Thank you!!

      Like

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone retell a story to show how it entered her heart to find a home. You’re the first, and I like the retelling very much! I didn’t know that Randall Jarrell wrote children’s books. I’ve known him as a literary critical and poet, who wrote “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I haven’t read “The Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner,” Did you like it well? It’s so interesting to discover a new dimension to a writer you already know. I’m happy you enjoyed the retelling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate them so much. 😊🌷

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I found it and I do see see what you mean about it. It’s very powerful indeed. I have recently come across another of his children’s books, The Bat-Poet. I’m looking forward to it. Thank you for to my attention. It sent me on rather a mission of discovery about Jarrell. He died fairly young at around fifty on October 14, 1965. It surprised me as October 14 was the date I shared my retelling of his story.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Suzanne, I have already left you a like on your beautiful rendition of this story but I wanted to reread it with a less rushed spirit so I could fully immerse myself in your prose. My two favorite lines are: “Held together by home and by heart.” The second is actually your explanation of why you wrote this piece, “find a home in the heart of me.” Your words are a visible sign of what your heart is made of, and I for one want to keep seeing more through your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Erika, it means a great deal to me that you would take such time with it for time is a very precious thing. Your beautiful thoughts are very encouraging to me and have touched my heart, thank you. Take good care, suzanne ❤️

      Like

  5. I loved the penmanship Suzanne, mind you l always love your writing … l was captivated by the two dogs and then the room, you have a lovely looking warm house – is this where you do your most of your writing? There is a lot of connection in that room.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How nice of you to notice the room. It is a favorite of mine. It lights up with the morning sun and absolutely glows in the evening. Everything in the room has a story to tell. There isn’t much in there that isn’t meaningful to me. I love to write in here or in the kitchen that overlooks it. And as you can see the dogs love their own window to the world. Thank you so very much Rory 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure – l could see with the little l did see, but the visible detail said a lot about you and how you love your home – it has/had a very relaxed ambience with it. The dogs love it there also which is good.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I do love my home 😊. I’m happy to know it shows through. I try to keep it dog friendly too. Dobby loves to sleep right under that window. I’m not sure why. Jack uses it to spy on the neighbors. Hehe. To the left in the picture is my grandmother’s desk. I have so many memories of her sitting here.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Very much so. I’m even fortunate enough to have a chair that belonged to my great grandfather. I have a photo of him sitting in it. He loved to read and was a brilliant carpenter. He took his girls (my grandmother and her sister) to see the vaudeville shows when they were young! He was a gentle and unassuming man. I wish that I had known him. Thank you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, Preston is certainly there. Maybe that’s why there are so many books in this room 😊, as he loved so well to read. You did see an old wooden rocker. It is beautifully balanced. He didn’t craft that one. That is one that was flimsy and one rocker had worn through. My father created a matching one so well that you can’t tell which is the original. I keep a rug under it so the hard floor won’t wear on it too much. But I do have a beautiful carving of a crane that my great grandfather did. When I hold it I think of how his hand labored over it.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Good memories indeed – l don’t have many like that as l have so few pieces from my yesterdays the ones l do have l hold close – which reminds me.

        I read your email, l had an idea – will respond to you this evening 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Um…we like clean closets? 😊
        Or maybe there’s a Halloween reference here. I don’t keep up well with scary movies. 🙃 😊. Although Christopher Lee and Vincent Price are quite amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh wow!! This is so touchingly beautiful. A wonderful retelling and beautiful pictures too! I love fairy tales too. Reading George Macdonald stories “the Princess and Curdie”. Yes, so much wisdom in these old tales. Thank you for sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fairy tales are such a gift, aren’t they! I looked up George MacDonald and realized I’ve heard of some of his stories but I don’t think I’ve ever read one. I’m going to look for them. Thank you so much Nina, for all of your sweet thoughts. 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are! I’m so glad you looked him up—I read several of his stories online. “Lilith” was an especially interesting read. Thought provoking. And you are most welcome, Suzanne. I so enjoy reading your posts! Have a beautiful day 😊💓

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a beautiful and romantic read, I was intrigued by the symbolism and moved by the mystical tone, particularly the circular nature of the whole piece.
    “And to her song
    Where the alone of him
    Met the sea of her
    And
    Lapped at his heart”
    If I could write something half as good as that I would put down my pen and never write again! I could go on, but I would end up quoting half the poem. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is indeed.
      So much in so few words.
      I came across a beautiful inscribed copy of his first poetry book, Blood for a Stranger very recently. It was sadly out of my price range but oh goodness what a treasure! Thank you kindly. 🙂

      Like

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