All One

I’m reading Mary Poppins by P.L.  Travers for the first time, and it is so much more rich and beautiful than what I ever expected from a children’s book.

In the excerpt below the children, Michael and Jane, have sneaked off to visit the zoo at midnight and find themselves conversing with the real king of the jungle, a hooded cobra:

“And after all,” he went on, flicking his terrible little forked tongue in and out as he spoke, “it may be that to eat and be eaten are the same in the end.  My wisdom tells me that this is probably so.  We are all made of the same stuff, remember, we of the Jungle, you of the City.  The same substance composes us– the tree overhead, the stone beneath us, the bird, the beast, the star– we are all one, moving to the same end.  Remember that when you no longer remember me, my child.”

“But how can tree be stone?  A bird is not me.  Jane is not a tiger,” said Michael stoutly.

“You think not?” said the Hamadryad’s hissing voice.  “Look!”  and he nodded his head towards the moving mass of creatures before them.  Birds and animals were now swaying together, closely encircling Mary Poppins, who was rocking lightly from side to side.  Backwards and forwards went the swaying crowd, keeping time together, swinging like the pendulum of a clock.  Even the trees were bending and lifting gently, and the moon seemed to be rocking in the sky as a ship rocks on the sea.

“Bird and beast, stone and star– we are all one, all one–  –” murmured the Hamadryad, softly folding his hood about him as he himself swayed between the children.

“Child and serpent, star and stone– all one.”

The hissing voice grew softer.  The cries of the swaying animals dwindled and became fainter.  Jane and Michael, as they listened, felt themselves gently rocking too, or as if they were being rocked…

~Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, ©1934

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