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Sunshine and Moonbeams: a Treasury of Poems and Prayers is a poetic harvest!

By Jeremy Fitzgerald

It would seem a great irony that poetry, like its origin in verse, requires any explanation whatsoever.  Nonetheless, poetry, or further, verse, and even deeper, song, is also of thought of as the most beautiful of the basic, universal expressions.  Whether you are a fan of poetry or not, the magic of verse oriented mnemonics has been in almost every human brain since “the mouse ran up the clock.”

Consider then, Sunshine and Moonbeams: A Treasury of Poems and Prayers, written and collected by Jill S. McIntyre, illustrated by Rebecka L. Sasich, a new volume of verse, descended from the brood of Mother Goose, to rekindle a love for nature, earth, seasons and spirituality. Uniquely illustrated in a vivid Bauhaus style, each artwork creates a delightful visual tapestry that provides each verse with a depth of imagery re-defining the term “eye-candy,” and reminding the reader that as early as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, life experience gathered, planted and sewn in poetry and verse has been marked out with glorious etchings from an illuminators hand. One of the great evocative qualities of poetry being inherent its ability to move an artful hand to canvas.

Yet what is the purpose of poetic convention?  What is it about meter and rhyme that instill us with recollection of sequence, image and melody? Truly, this is a question for the birds, set forth by Father Sky, Mother Nature or both!  Is poetry at its basic best, like the psalms and lamentations of scripture, humanity’s best effort at acknowledging, praising and connecting with those natural forces humans cannot fully comprehend? Or, dare I say it: our gods? If so, then what of our praises and tribute to the figure of our goddess instincts, our mother nature, our mother necessity? Indeed, many poets of old created odes to nature herself, celebrating the spirituality of the seasons, or perhaps further, the seasons of our spirituality.

Throughout time, the great myths of the universe have always involved, not only the tales, rhymes and songs of the male gods, but also the deeds, verses and poems dedicated to the female. One of the oldest creation myths goes even deeper to describe the evolution of our natural universe as a result of the love and passion between Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky).  In the realms of verse and spirituality the female manifestation can take many forms, high or low, but the most honorable form, the most feared and lovely form crowned has been that of the goddess. A specifically female celebration of a form infused with the powers of creation, harvest and nature itself, which adds a beautiful harmony to the male, mercurial essence of god and sky.  Originally dubbed as “a Treasury of Poems and Prayers for Children of the Goddess,Sunshine and Moonbeams is a warmly welcome addition to the canon of rhymes for children inspired by, in the words of Arthur author Marc Brown, “Thomas Fleet of Pudding Lane in Boston” who collected and published the “melodies” of his mother in law, the eternally beloved “Mother Goose,” in 1719.

It is no question that great visual art can emote a variety of emotion, both spiritual and verbal.  The illustrations that enliven the background of this treasury, as created by Rebecka L. Sasich and rendered in tribute to the spirit of Lyonel Feininger, the first faculty member of the famous Bauhaus group, give McIntyre’s verses the whimsical, kaleidoscopic vibrancy that they playfully demand, reminding us that poetry, like its sibling, song, is an art form that begs to be performed aloud, as the imagery converses with our souls in a universal language.

In her book, WEE RHYMES, author Jane Yolen presents an even richer rationale for poetic connectivity in her introduction, A Letter from Two Grandmothers:

“Rhymes are our earliest cultural artifacts.  Children who are given poetry early will have a fullness inside.  Mother Goose rhymes, baby verse – that kind of singsong, sing-along rhythm — is as important as a heartbeat.  Add pictures to them, and you have the whole early childhood package.  Just add the love.”

Which brings me to my concluding praise for Sunshine and Moonbeams: A Treasury of Poems and Prayers, a true chest full of original and archival verses for spiritual children of all ages.  These poems represent a fifteen year labor of love, achieved by two women who are earthly goddesses in their own right, as artists, cousins, daughters, and mother.  In faith, the very ribbon on this delightful poetic package comes from its original inspiration, the authors daughter, Emily Owenn McIntyre, now a creative artist on her own journey, which may have begun when, at four years old, she first wrote the verse that inspired this “treasury” in 1998 (see dedications):  Moonbeams, they glitter like stars!  Moonbeams, they shine on flowers!  Moonbeams, they sparkle on me! Sunshine and Moonbeams: A Treasury of Poems and Prayers is guaranteed to sparkle in the heart of every reader.  Available now on amazon.com.