Friday Night Flashback: Alice Dreaming, Diamond Eyes

[CLD image to be replaced]

As a child I was hugely in love with Alice in Wonderland and delighted when I found anything at all Alice related. Perhaps it was the talking animals, or maybe the rhymes. Even at that young age I loved words and the way Alice’s creator played with them delighted me to no end–I roared with love at the logic puzzles I could never figure out, and the shapes of his characters enthralled me. I acquired a copy of The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, and can still remember the red cover with golden lettering on the front. Inside that book were worlds I visited and studied for hours upon hours, reciting the words and creating my own dialogue and separate stories, even writing out some of my favorite scenes, filling dozens of notebooks in the process.

[Cover image to be replaced]

At one point I discovered Anne Clark’s The Real Alice, a find that exponentially widened my world, balancing in its pages a lifetime of literature, history, art, genealogy, mathematics, poetry and photography, all wound within stories of people’s lives as they grew and aged, loved, hurt, obsessed, engaged in feuds and criss-crossed the staggering lines demarcating social class, family boundaries and cultivated friendships.

It happens that one of the years during this time I somehow started to draw, unusual for me because I wasn’t (and remain) not very good at it. Poetry was more my speed, and in fact I filled a great many notebooks with that as well. I felt at home with poetry, as if I were cushioned by the comfortable words, held in in a protective embrace with each advance into the opening up of inner worlds. Art? I simply never gave it much thought.

I no longer remember which drawing was my first, or what thought persuaded my pencil to paper in sketching movements; all I know is that today I carry with me a small portfolio of drawings I’d done, some silly, some serious, all attempts at my own or copies of others’ work. I can recall sitting on my bed (near the fish tank that held two hamsters named Sylvie and Bruno), contented with the world as I engaged in my notebooks. Oftentimes memories are punctuated by remembered products of this era, or I see something (or my son and his own productions), reminding me of a particular drawing.

In this case, I recalled and went searching for this one~~

My drawing Alice
Image courtesy Lisl Zlitni

When specifically calling up the recollection, I want to say this is copy of a picture I’d seen in a book that I strongly suspect to be Clark’s. The swirls to the left and right appear to me quite Lewis Carrollish, and I vaguely recall not being able to duplicate them exactly. (They are just lines, right? Still, for some reason I couldn’t get it.) I thought I remembered that this in fact is a drawing by Dodgson of Alice Liddell, the small girl for and to whom the story was first told. Finding out for sure was a snap~~

[Dodgson Alice drawing image to be replaced]

The quoted words beneath the actual picture drawn by Dodgson appear, as you can see, in the same journal page as the drawing, and must be what inspired me to write a particular poem, memory of which is what got this particular flashback started. I actually wrote at least two poems about Alice Liddell, one influenced by her years as Alice Hargreaves and as she grew older and eventually passed away (1937) in a world far different from the one she shared with her sisters as a young girl.

But tonight is for the “happy summer-days”:

Alice on the wavy seas
dark hair tossing on the breeze
eyes a-dreaming, gleam alive
gazing upward towards the sky
Alice dreaming; diamond eyes,
with friends’ intoxicated sighs.
They pluck the stars where angels roam
to place them in their hair like combs.
Running, laughing through poppy fields
picking flowers with happy squeals.
In Wonderland they play at home
resting eas’ly on golden thrones
Forevermore, a tale to sing
basking in life’s pleasant spring!

This post previously appeared in 2014 at the blog’s alternative location.

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