Sunday 10 December 2017

Raymond Briggs and Lord Tennyson

On the face of it Raymond Briggs, cartoonist and children's writer, might have little in common with Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the Victorian poet, but they both left us with the same over-riding message - it's just that Alfred did it in words.

Briggs lost his wife to Leukaemia in 1973, they never had children. He wrote The Snowman in 1978, when the wind blows in 1982 and The Bear in 1994. His works are full of loss, and it is shown in such simple terms that even the youngest of children can understand.

Characters enter your life and then they leave, and at some point you will leave too. Briggs teaches us that well, but he also teaches that it is better for the story to have happened. The story ends, but we are glad we were able to share it while it lasted.

Watching a performance of The Bear last week and hearing a small child cry out in grief as The Bear leaves, I sobbed. I couldn't keep it in at all. I was still crying when I arrived home and it was because I could see the truth so clearly and so could my children.

As Tennyson said, after the death of his beloved friend.

I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

You never truly regret being part of that story, however much it hurts when it ends. It shapes you and leaves you with memories and magic that can never be replicated or replaced. You helped write that story and it stays part of you forever, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

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