Saturday, November 10, 2007

Song of the Sparrow

Sandell, Lisa Ann. 2007. Song of the Sparrow.

Song of the Sparrow is a wonderful verse novel that retells the story of Elaine the Lady of Shalott. While the literary tradition has her as beautiful but essentially weak and desperate, Sandell's Elaine is strong, brave, and while she, for a time, is lovesick on Lancelot, she is not too desperate or clingy. (Not, I'll die without his love desperate.) Meet Arthur, Elaine, Gwynivere, Lancelot, Tristan, and Gawain in this new telling of love and war. The poetry is powerful and quite effective in communicating the behind the scenes emotions as well as capturing the senses--especially the sights and sounds of battle camps and war.

Here is a snippet from the tenth chapter:

I wish I could go back to that time,
when my mother would smile
the gentle smile that told me,
all is right and well.
Back to that time when I was
and loved
and safe.
When we were all safe.

That things change,
that people change,
and die,
that we grow older,
that life brings the unexpected,
the unwanted,
some days it feels me with
a measure of lightness, for
I will be a woman soon.
But other days,
the very thought
of growing older,
of not being that small girl
who danced over river rocks,
whose brothers held her hands,
whose mother lived,
the very thought of it
crushes me,
till it is stopped,
by the world
my memories.

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