Monday, November 24, 2008

The Happy Prince by Janet Frame
Janet Frame

From The Guardian, Saturday November 22 2008

In the children's record of the Happy Prince,
before each gold flake is peeled from the Prince's body,
the voice orders, Turn the Page, Turn the Page,
supposing that children do not know when to turn,
and may live at one line for many years,
sliding and bouncing boisterously along the words,
breaking the closed letters for a warm place to sleep.
Turn the Page, Turn the Page.
By the time the Happy Prince has lost his eyes,
and his melted heart is given to the poor,
and his body taken from the market-place and burned,
there is no need to order, Turn the Page,
for the children have grown up, and know when to turn,
and knowing when, will never again know where.

• From Women's Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English, published by Welsh literary publisher Seren, £12.50.

"The Happy Prince" was first published in the NZ Listener in August 2004 and it was included in The Goose Bath. It was also printed in World Literature Today in the USA in 2005 so it's proving to be a well-loved piece.

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