In the Story Made of Dawn: on magic and magicians
The magic of hope

The magic of art

Woodland stile

"I have always been interested in the way that elements of stories twine and combine. At school I had an art teacher, a great influence on me, who disliked man-made objects unless they were old and showed the effects of time and wear; she loved all natural things. I share this attitude and it plays a large part in my writing. I'm fascinated by the ambiguity of man's relationship to the huge, mysterious universe around him; how, on the one hand, we make ourselves little boxes and think to exist safely and snugly in them; on the other, we extend our knowledge further and further into the limitless void; and yet from time to time these opposites collide and produce astonishing results."

  - Joan Aiken (1924-2004, from Faces of Fantasy)

Gate to Nattadon

"[W]hen the modern mythmaker, the writer of literary fairy tales, dares to touch the old magic and try to make it work in new ways, it must be done with the surest of touches. It is, perhaps, a kind of artistic thievery, this stealing of old characters, settings, the accoutrements of magic. But then, in a sense, there is an element of theft in all art; even the most imaginative artist borrows and reconstructs the archetypes when delving into the human heart. That is not to say that using a familiar character from folklore in the hopes of shoring up a weak narrative will work. That makes little sense. Unless the image, character, or situation borrowed speaks to the author’s condition, as cryptically and oracularly as a dream, folklore is best left untapped." 

- Jane Yolen (from Touch Magic)

Dog and stile

"The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world."

G.K.Chesterton (1874-1936, from "The Falling Value of Words," The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton)

Footpath signpost

"My first thought, as a child, was that the artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and that he does it without destroying something else. A kind of refutation of the conservation of matter. That still seems to me its central magic, its core of joy." 

- John Updike (1932-2009)

Woodland wall

Woodland wallPictures above: the gate, stile, and boundary wall at the bottom of our hill. The poem in the picture captions was first published in Poetry, January 2002; all rights reserved by the author.