|Frontispiece by Walter Crane, 1907|
The theme of my recent reading, by chance, if you wish, has been donkeys, asses, burros. I just reread with pleasure Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes -- with an internal shiver at Stevenson's odd precocity: he was in his twenties, but he muses with a brittle, elderly wisdom, as if caught in a temporal backwash from his early death -- and I am slowly making my way through Juan Ramón Jiménez's Platero y Yo. I don't think I've read Platero before, but I wonder if I read it when young and forgot it: if it set me the example for the sort of blog-writing I do best. Anyway, Platero is the poet's donkey, and often addressed in the mode I call "the second person blogular." You -- yes, you -- are the intimate who will understand, though the rest of the world mock: the object of all the tenderness that would otherwise be spilled and wasted.
Stevenson thinks of writing as I do: in the dedication to the Travels he writes:
Every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the friends of him who writes it. They alone take his meaning; they find private messages, assurances of love, and expressions of gratitude, dropped for them in every corner. The public is but a generous patron who defrays the postage.You can read it in an evening, free from Gutenberg: Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.