Sunday, July 31, 2005

Jenny White and Johnny Black

by Eleanor Farjeon

Jenny White and Johnny Black
Went out for a walk.
Jenny found wild strawberries,
And John a lump of chalk.

Jenny White and Johnny Black
Clambered up a hill.
Jenny heard a willow-wren
And John a workman’s drill.

Jenny White and Johnny Black
Wandered by the dyke.
Jenny smelt the meadow-sweet,
And John a motor-bike.

Jenny White and Johnny Black
Turned into a lane.
Jenny saw the moon by day
And Johnny saw a train.

Jenny White and Johnny Black
Walked into a storm.
Each felt for the other’s hand
And found it nice and warm.

* * *

I found this story in a children's book that I was reading aloud at work.

This is a prime example of how easily poetry can reveal universal truths by using the concrete and specific. There is no over-generalization, as is so easy to do in prose, nor is there vague abstraction.

The basic idea is the difference between men and women. Women are interested in the natural, men in the manmade. Women care about what is beautiful, men about what is useful.

Yet in the end, when trouble comes, men and women can turn to each other and find comfort in one another. Their differences do not prevent this; rather, they are a large part of what allows them to complement each other in the wonderful way they do.

3 comments:

White Phantom said...

I love it! It first caught my attention because I saw my name. (Though incorrectly spelled, if I may add! :P) But that is a great poem. It's very simple, but it shows deep truths. Nice.

Mark said...

Wow; it's amazing the sort of insights that can be placed in such unassuming places. Thanks for sharing!

I wonder whether this sort of thing in children's literature is included more for the benefit of the child or of the parent?

Meredith said...

Mmm... this post makes *me* feel nice and warm.

Soon I will see you again, and we will be able to talk about poetry again!