October 4, 2013

munro leaf

He dreamed up:

a ferocious looking bull that whiled away the hours

refusing fights to spend his time admiring the flowers

The Story of Ferdinand

3 Responses to “MUNRO LEAF’S BIRTHDAY”

  1. True Stories

    More than thirty years after
    my Uncle Mun’s death
    I can close my eyes and there he is:
    A white smile flashes in his weathered
    ruddy-brown face; I can hear
    his easy laughter; I am warmed by
    the outpouring of good-humor
    in the slow musical drawl of his speech.
    He retains a fondness for whiskey on-the-rocks
    and unheated debate.
    He was my favorite uncle.

    He wrote The Story of Ferdinand
    (the one about the bull who wouldn’t fight,
    preferring flowers to glory in the bullring)
    on a yellow legal pad
    in twenty minutes.
    An antidote to restless boredom,
    brought on by a rainy day.
    He rushed to show it to his friend, Bob Lawson,
    who was to illustrate it.
    They knew right away that this little story,
    so simple, and
    so true,
    would make them both famous.

    It really was the story of my uncle’s life,
    told well in advance
    of the full living of it.
    Ferdinand set my uncle free
    to live as he pleased, to write
    many more stories in years to come,
    taking his ease
    in fields of sweet flowers
    for the rest of his life.

    He always said
    that any truth
    worth telling,
    should be told to the young.
    His life was itself such a truth –
    the unfolding of a beautiful myth,
    unique, colorful, and
    sweetly scented.
    My own childhood was tinted
    in the warm and glowing shades
    of my uncle’s stories,
    his kindly mirth,
    his simple truths.
    Be yourself.
    Live and let live.
    Do what you love.

  2. Hello –
    I guess I should have explained that I wrote this poem about my dear Uncle Mun about 5 years ago. I’ve never seen this picture of my uncle when he was so young before – I wonder wear you found it? I have so many magical memories of holidays spent with my uncle and his family, and a handful of very funny stories as well. He wrote a lot of other books too, none so famous as Ferdinand. One I like a lot is “Noodle”, written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans of “Madeleine” fame.
    Thanks for remembering him!

  3. How wonderful!

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