Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Open the door

It’s a new year. I’ve got a new chair. So I started thinking about chairs and how much time we spend sitting in them, the books we read while sitting in them, the talks we share with other people. Then I started to wonder about chairs in stories, thrones and little elfin chairs, and also about the chairs that craftsmen make for storytellers to sit in. But I’ve never liked sitting in a big chair when I’m telling stories. I’d rather a low stool if it’s with children or, if it’s lots of children or adults, I’d rather stand up.

Chairs took me on to doors. I started looking for a story where a chair might figure. Maybe there’d be a figure of a person sitting in the chair. Who would it be? What I came across instead was the poem, The Door,  by the Czech poet, Miroslav Holub. In the version I have in my file-box for poems, his poem is in a translation  by Ian Milner and George Theiner. It seems to me like a jolly good poem for a new year.

The Door

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

After finding this poem, I remembered an incident I once witnessed which has remained as a little true tale in my mind. Here it is.

We were in Cannizaro Park which is part of Wimbledon Common. In the park was an arts students’ exhibition of sculptures and other art objects that could be outside. One which was set in the middle of a wide open grass lawn was a wooden door-frame complete with door. Two children suddenly went running across the lawn. One bypassed the door. The other ran through it and then, turning round to look at it and realising that he’d opened it and left it open, went back and closed it.

PS: My top photo is of a most interesting planted chair that stands outside the front door of a house in a street off South Lambeth Road. My other photo is of a lovely key-hole in a door in Venice.

One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Open the door”

  1. Meg Says:

    Thank you, Mary.
    Certainly a good poem for the beginning of a new year.
    You made me think of the Grimm’s tale “The Three Feathers.”
    It seems so random to be sent off on a quest, dictated by where a feather flies… and doesn’t the youngest son’s just land right in front of him. His two elder brothers gallop off east / west laughing and Dumbkin is left where he stands … till he notices that beside his feather there’s a trap door. He opens it, see stairs, goes down them and knocks on the door at the foot… his story gallops on after that!
    Here’s to new beginnings and unexpected journeys.
    Cheers Meg

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