Sonatas, storms, and stories
Tunes for a Monday Morning

Creativity and play

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"Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play." - Henri Matisse (Matisse on Art)

"The capacity to relax and play renews the spirit and makes it possible for us to come to the work of writing clearer, ready for the journey."  - Bell Hooks (Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work)

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"To enter into play is to enter into uncertainty. It involves letting go, and it involves the risk that in your looseness, in your un-self-conscious spontaneity, you may say or do something strange, something that someone could shame you for. Therein lies the risk, and therein lies our poetry."

- Matthew Burgess ("Serious Play: Odes to the Everyday," Poetry Foundation)

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"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both."
- L.P. Jacks (Education Through Recreation)

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"A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived within him and who he will miss terribly."  - Pablo Neruda (I Confess I Have Lived)

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"So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us."   - Gaston Bachelard (The Poetics of Reverie)

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"I believe that half the trouble in the world comes from people asking 'What have I achieved?' rather than 'What have I enjoyed?' I've been writing about a subject I love as long as I can remember -- horses and the people associated with them, anyplace, anywhere, anytime. I couldn't be happier knowing that young people are reading my books. But even more important to me is that I've enjoyed so much the writing of them."   - Walter Farley (author of The Black Stallion)

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"We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  Karl Groos (The Play of Animals)

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Photographs above: Howard, Victoria, Tilly and I on a dog-friendly beach near Paignton, south Devon, last week.
The L.P. Jacks quote above is often misattributed to François Auguste René Chateaubriand, and the Karl Goos quote to George Bernard Shaw.


The light seems so beautiful there ... as does the play. Loved the photographs :-) writes this landlocked New Zealander living in Belgium.

delight delight the light and delight!

Seeing all those dogs playing and having fun made me wonder if dog's have a developed sense of humour. Then I remembered Harry. Harry was a Jack Russel; a small fire-craker of a black and white mutt who was the only male amongst a pack of four (sometimes five) gigantic bitches of mixed but massive breeds.

One day when I was staying with the dogs' owners I was asked to take them for a walk as everyone else was so busy. I was a little daunted having more experience of cats and none of walking a pack of enormous canine's and one small trouble-making doggy-thug. But I manfully accepted the challenge and took them out into the hills. It was there that Harry came into his element; he spent the whole time challenging the most enormous and ferocious looking hounds to battle; straining at his lead with popping eyes and bared teeth. Despite the noise, everything was fine, but then he somehow managed to slip his lead and wade into warfare in deadly earnest. Well, the girls weren't going to allow their pet male to get hurt, so all four hugely muscled harridans also joined in, dragging me squeaking in protest with them.

No one was actually hurt; it was more display and noise than actual combat, and the pair of enormous dogs that Harry had challenged, fought a controlled retreat while their owners and my good self eventually managed to wrestle the snarling mass apart. When it was 'all over bar the barking' I turned round to see Harry sitting calmly at a distance, watching everything with obvious enjoyment, and a laughing smile on his face. His fur wasn't even ruffled because he'd obviously slipped out of the maelstrom before it got properly started.

Do dogs have a developed sense of humour? Oh yes, Harry thought the whole situation was hilarious.


Lovely pictures - and we've been on that beach! One of my brothers lives in Stoke Gabriel, close to Paignton - so we and our dogs have romped there also! And our boys love the Paignton Zoo.

A lovely collection of quotes & photos overall today - but I must single out the photograph of your husband, daughter and dear Tilly playing in the waves. That single picture captures the essence of play. Of joy. And of love.

This lovely post made me wonderfully happy. No one teaches play so well as dogs at the beach.

This is such a timely post for me. Thank you!

Beach walks!! Yes!

This is why I love this blog: a feast for the eyes and the spirit!

thank you for this wild romp along the beach
the wonderful Australian artist, writer & cartoonist Michael Leunig talks about the creative experience, play & letting the work go "Into the unknown" here's an excerpt-
"The essential quality of playing freely is enjoyment. We play to please ourselves. It awakens the sleeping part of the imagination - and allows the exhausted part to have a much-needed sleep: a situation conducive to invention, insight and originality. The true self is free to romp about in pleasure; to dabble like a duck, to take chances and make discoveries or mistakes without consequence. In such joyous abandonment inhibitions melt, a special sensitivity is primed, windows fly open and a fresh vision becomes possible. Art and love may intertwine and flourish."

You can read the whole essay here:

Not exactly about play, but the Bachelard quote got me thinking:

How the Bluebird Brought A Memory

On my walk, two and a half miles,
the circuit all the elders of this town
take to ward off the effects of aging,
I saw a bluebird on an overhead wire
looking down at many little worms
excavated by the fierce rains.
I watched him eye them, as if surprised
by such an apocalyptic feast, measuring
what was there against the hunger in his belly.

So I, too, once creeping down the long hall
in the silent night, the snores of my father
and my mother’s soft mewings behind me,
found a feast in our city kitchen,
the remains of a grown-up’s party.
I tasted what I'd never had before,
the amethyst spark of rum cake,
the acid breathiness of sangria left in a glass,
more than my belly could comfort.

Going back to bed, I dreamed a haze
of images before morning, my parents
astonished I could sleep so late,
till they saw the smears on my pillow.
Then rage rose between them
as to who should have cleaned up after.
Yet here I am now, older than either,
and that memory, like a banked fire,
flares up again to make me once more a child.

2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

This is a keeper. It is rich and wise, the joy not only of trespassing, feasting, and the
secrecy. Don't we all have this in our childhood? It proves the child we carry around in
all our days is sacred.

Stuart--that kind of behavior is called being "Leash aggressive". A dog who might not otherwise be that assertive, on a leash/lead suddenly lunges forward, as if being attached to the Master gives him permission to be the savior of Master or Pack or whatever.


Hi Jane, So Harry's behaviour fits recognisable patterns! I have very little experience of dogs but I can now see they're a whole world unto themselves.


These photographs are blissful, so natural and beautifully captured. I think an animal, whether pet or some wondrous creature observed in the landscape evokes the playful spirit within us, the wandering/explorative child. I know the first time I actually saw a roadrunner on my garen wall ( here in the high desert of California), I was delightfully in awe. It brightened the morning and loaned me a cheerful disposition to finish some mundane household chores. Also, love those quoted perspectives and totally agree with them.

Thanks so much for this!
My Best

Hi Jane

What a wonderfully delightful poem and one that has such natural truth. I can remember doing as similar thing as a kid and what lingered in my memory, was the magic of the wanting to taste, the anticipation and the adventurous sense of attaining it.

Also, how beautifully you draw parallels between the behavior/discovery of the bluebird to that of the curious child. I really enjoyed this poem and am so glad you composed and shared it!


I know this isn't the point of the post but I love how you look romantic even when you're playing in the sea, and the whole family in wellies! And all the dogs with their balls! I've started my day with a smile.

You even make an overcast day bright and cheery.
I love this post!

Yes. What Phyllis and Wendy said. And how wonderful that the Bachelard quote sparked it. The imagination works in mysterious ways....

Thank you so much, everyone. It's a family tradition to head for one of Devon's coasts (north or south) when our daughter comes home from her work & studies in London, and it's always a joy.

Dog's absolutely have a keen sense of humor. Some of them, people.

I love that, Mo. Thank you!

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