Saturday, August 20, 2011
Number 240: Kenneth Grahame "Mr. Toad"
The world has held great Heroes,
As history-books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared with that of Toad!
The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed.
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad!
The animals sat in the Ark and cried,
Their tears in torrents flowed.
Who was it said, "There's land ahead"?
Encouraging Mr Toad!
The army all saluted
As they marched along the road.
Was it the King? Or Kitchener?
No. It was Mr Toad.
The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting
Sat at the window and sewed.
She cried, "Look! Who's that handsome man?"
They answered, "Mr Toad."
-- Kenneth Grahame
Hap Notes: Of course this is the poem about Mr. Toad written by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) in his classic book, The Wind In The Willows. Grahame was a gifted student who could not afford college. He took a position at the Bank of England where he rose up in the ranks, retiring as the bank's Secretary in 1908 for health reasons.
Grahame wrote The Wind in The Willows as an outcropping from bedtime stories he told his son, Alistair. Prior to his most famous book, Grahame had written a few other books, too, full of fancy. Mr. Toad from "Willows", however. was based on his son (anyone who has had a toddler or small child in the family will see a resemblance, really, between their offspring and the cagey Mr. Toad.) Disney has used Grahame's books as a basis for movies including the aforementioned "Willows" as well as Grahame's book/story The Reluctant Dragon.
Grahame and his siblings were raised by their grandmother (their mother died and their father was incapable of raising them for a variety of reasons.) His beginnings were fairly inauspicious but his beloved book has been treasured by generation after generation. When Teddy Roosevelt visited England the two authors he especially wanted to meet were Rudyard Kipling and Grahame.
Here's the whole book: www.literatureproject.com/wind-willows/index.htm
and here are ALL his books: www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/g#a153
Here's the Kenneth Grahame Society: www.kennethgrahamesociety.net/
You can see the whole movie of stop-motion animation of "Willows" at YouTube starting here:www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pKVVmmp4N0
Here's "When the Toad Came Home" from an animated version: www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH0_V6IVOXY&feature=related
On a somewhat related note – Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXZNkxJFiQ0&playnext=1&list=PLD8CD8A0661E85728
Which sort of leads us to Tex Avery's classic Screwy Squirrel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTttAkELFZc
Okay, and here's Warner Bros'. Slappy Squirrel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwYacTjyD3U
Let's wrap it up with the Squirrel Nut Zippers: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdAt4qWvz_8