When at home alone I sit
And am very tired of it,
I have just to shut my eyes
To go sailing through the skies—
It is raining in June. That is not right. Rain in the winter is acceptable, as a precursor to snow. Nostalgic like an old friendship in autumn, bright and fresh in the spring. But rain in June is a sad aberration. It should never rain on a summer day.
A thought today for every child locked in, who cannot go out to play.
To go sailing far away
To the pleasant Land of Play;
To the fairy land afar
Where the Little People are;
Where the clover-tops are trees,
And the rain-pools are the seas,
And the leaves, like little ships,
Sail about on tiny trips;
A thought for every child today, trapped in an assembly line. For the one hundred and sixty-eight million locked inside a shift, a function, a place. Sewing clothes they will not wear, wrapping toys they will not own. Assembling cars that will go places they will never go. Doing this over and over, so long, no time to go outside and play.
In that forest to and fro
I can wander, I can go;
See the spider and the fly,
And the ants go marching by,
Carrying parcels with their feet
Down the green and grassy street.
A thought for every child today, trapped in a hospital bed. With cancer for a playmate, cholera, the flu. A sprained ankle or HIV. Pneumonia, measles, mumps. On a sterile mattress, in a sterile room, unaware of the summer day. Too tired or in pain anyway, to go outside to play.
I can in the sorrel sit
Where the ladybird alit.
I can climb the jointed grass
And on high
See the greater swallows pass
In the sky,
And the round sun rolling by
Heeding no such things as I.
And then a thought for every child today, trapped under the covers by fear. For the forty million around the world, who have been ignored, abused, hit. For those feeling unloved, and those feeling unsafe. Who, though the door may not be locked, do not dare go outside to play.
Should a leaflet come to land
Drifting near to where I stand,
Straight I’ll board that tiny boat
Round the rain-pool sea to float.
Little thoughtful creatures sit
On the grassy coasts of it;
Little things with lovely eyes
See me sailing with surprise.
A thought for the children locked in by bars. By law, doors, fences. Plexiglas, walls. Another for those locked in their own heads. By sadness, ignorance. Locked in by hate.
Through that forest I can pass
Till, as in a looking-glass,
Humming fly and daisy tree
And my tiny self I see,
Painted very clear and neat
On the rain-pool at my feet.
Locked-in syndrome is a neurological condition in which a person is awake and conscious, but trapped in a body completely paralyzed. Unable to move or speak, at best blinking an eye. A life lived, literally, locked inside.
And yet, even then, some have been able to step out. Scientists have solved conundrums, poets read and written books. Some have started awareness movements, built computers, relearnt to spell. Strolled down memories of Sunday fairs, ridden the Ferris wheel, smelled the fries. Taken trips around the world just by blinking their eyes.
Children have built Indian villages, cowboy forts, mountains and valleys in bed sheets. Discovered caves and buried treasure in between pillows. Made imaginary friends in the dark by night, pictured shapes in the clouds by day. Flown off to Neverland more than once, on pirate ships in their mind.
O dear me,
That I could be
A sailor on the rain-pool sea,
A climber in the clover tree,
And just come back a sleepy-head,
Late at night to go to bed.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘The Little Land’
‘Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.’ Those whose minds can wander free are never locked in on a summer day.
It is still raining, it is still June, and there are still millions of children around the world, who cannot go out to play. A thought for them, until the sun returns. And the hope that if they listen closely, they can hear the birds outside.
The 12th of June is Child Labor Day. This post is dedicated to every child, with the wish that every one that day will get to go out and play.