Frederick for Winter-time – a fable

Frederick for a Winter time.

 

Some of you might know the story of Frederick
the field mouse accused of sitting about
day-dreaming, watching and listening
not sharing the tasks of preparing for winter
while his family filled every minute
hurried here and there to busy themselves
storing berries and nuts
for the long season they would bear

and how Frederick garnered
the warmth of the sun the wind in the air
for winter is so freezingly cold, stale and bare
and how he saved the colours of the day
for winters can be so long, so drab and grey
and how he gathered words that uplift the spirit

and how in the stark days of winter
most of the food had been eaten
and gossip and all the funny stories
had become threadbare
and they anxiously turned to Frederick
for sustenance
during the last cruel days before spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so Frederick asked them to close their eyes
and with his words his voice his magic
from stirrings deep within
they felt warmth the air scented
with their treasured aromas
and they saw the colours of flowers and trees
rainbows and flying birds
enduring brush strokes on their mind

and how when Frederick had finished
they all applauded –

but Frederick
they exclaimed
you are a poet

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, ‘I know it’.

 

 

And for those of you still reading here is the story translated fom the fable.

Frederick    by Leo Lionni

 

All along the meadow 

where the cows grazed and the horses ran, 

there was an old stone wall.

In that wall

not far from the barn and the granary, 

a chatty family of field mice

had their home.

But the farmers had moved away,

the barn was abandoned,

and the granny stood empty.

And since winter was not far off,

the little mice began to gather corn and nuts 

and wheat and straw. 

They all worked day and night .

All – except Frederick. 

Frederick, why don’t you work?  they asked

I do work, said Frederick,

I gather sun rays 

for the old dark winter days.

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, 

staring at the meadow 

they said,  and now Frederick?

I gather colours, answered Frederick simply.

For winter is grey.

And once Frederick seemed half asleep,

Are you day-dreaming Frederick? 

They asked reproachfully. But Frederick said, 

Oh no I am gathering words 

for the winter days are long and many

and we’ll run out of things to say?.

The winter days came, 

and when the first snow fell

the five little field mice 

took to their hideout in the stones.

In the beginning there was lots to eat,

and the mice told stories 

of foolish foxes and silly cats.

They were a happy family.

But little by little they had nibbled up 

most of the nuts and berries,

 the straw was gone 

and the corn was only a memory.

It was cold in the wall 

and no one felt like chatting.

Then they remembered

what Frederick had said 

about sun rays and colours and words.

What about your supplies Frederick ! they asked 

Close your eyes, said Frederick,

as he climbed on a big stone,

Now I send you the rays of the sun

Do you feel their golden glow?

And as Frederick spoke of the sun

the four little mice 

began to feel warmer.

Was it Frederick’s voice ? Was it magic?

And how about the colours Frederick?

they asked anxiously ,

Close your eyes again, Frederick said,

And then he told them 

of the blue periwinkles

the red poppies

in the yellow wheat 

and the green leaves of the berry bush.

They saw the colours as clearly 

as if they had been painted in their minds 

And the words Frederick?

Frederick cleared his throat,

waited a moment,

and then, as if from a stage, he said: 

Who scatters snowflakes? who melts the ice? 

Who spoils the weather? Who makes it nice? 

Who grows the four-leaf clovers in June? 

dims the daylight? Who lights the moon?

Four little field mice who live in the sky

Four little field mice . . like you and I. 

One is the Springmouse  who turns on the showers

Then comes the Summer who paints in the flowers

The Fallmouse is next with walnuts and wheat 

And Winter is last . . . with little cold feet.

Aren’t we lucky the seasons are four 

Think of a year with one less . . or one more

When Frederick had finished,

they all applauded.

                       But Frederick,

                                     they said

                                                  you are a poet. 

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, ‘I know it’ 

 

 

 

 

Below is Thomas our young poet, this spring, March  2020 (Northern Hemisphere)

sitting in his cherry tree  in his own yard, reading Frederick. So proud of him.

 

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