The Personality Behind “Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star”
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Then the trav’ller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often thro’ my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
‘Tis your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the trav’ller in the dark :
Tho’ I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”
Is The Above Poem Folklore?“Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star”
Is the above poem folklore? On the lips of innumerable children dancing as an instinct for 214 years all over the world? Whether in the posh colony of New York or London or a distant Indian village. The kids learning English and going through nursery rhymes first catch ‘Twinkle twinkle little stars. Of course with differences in accent and pronunciation. And when you ask about its authorship, it’s really a matter of wonder “how I wonder ‘who’ you are?” Though well versed in the poem very few will answer the question, ‘who wrote it. The writer of the poem is long lost behind its worldwide and long-lasting popularity. And the irony is that readers now take it as folklore where the authorship is always anonymous.
The poetess no other than Jane Taylor, who wrote this immortal nursery rhyme ‘The Star’ at the age of 23 years, never knew that it would prove such a masterpiece that would overshadow her own name.
She was born in September 1783 in London and lived Shilling Grange in Shilling Street Lavenham Suffolk. Here only she wrote ‘The Star’. Her father Isaac Taylor of Ongar and mother Anne Martin Taylor, who herself was a writer of seven moral advice, were encouraging parents. She had an equally talented elder sister Anne Taylor, who also had a flair for writing poems and stories for children. And they wrote and published together. It was a literary family.
Field Of Children’s Literature“Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star”
Both the sisters did great work in the field of children’s literature. In 1804 and 1805 they published two volumes of ‘Original Poems for Infant Minds’- a collection of poems written not only by the Taylor sisters but by many other young poets also. Now comes in 1806 ‘Rhymes for the Nursery. This collection included that very poem ‘The Star’ which transcended time. But in this collection poems were not credited with the name of the poets. Because of the great collaboration between the Taylor sisters in the literary works, there was confusion about ‘The Star’ that who of the two wrote it. But later it was cleared that it was penned by Jane Taylor. Canon Isaac Taylor, Jane’s nephew had a copy of ‘Rhymes for the Nursery’ and respective authorship of Ann Taylor and Jane Taylor was recorded there.
The Star’ was so popular and catchy that many literary figures used it. In 1865, 42 years after Jane’s death ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ reappeared parodied in a poem recited by the Dormouse in the famous children’s literature writer Lewis Carroll immortal novel ‘ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
And then it is supposed that the character Jane Taylor, which appeared in one of the episodes of ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ was named after Jane Taylor.
Attracted The Attention
Though she wrote copiously, Jane Taylor did not stop at poetry but she wrote novels also, one among them ‘Display’, and attracted the attention of serious critics. They found in her style smacks of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth. Even the famous poet Robert Browning acknowledged her influence on his work. Stuart Curran, the contemporary critic observes, “Taylor’s capacity to reveal the inner life as a thing is, it could be asserted, unrivaled in English literature before Dickens.”
Unfortunately, Jane Taylor could not enjoy her full life and died of breast cancer at the age of forty on 13 April 1824. She left with unfulfilled literary projects still teeming in her heart. Away from the dazzle, she preferred simple pleasures. Going through the extracts of her memorable letter we find her philosophy:-
Memorable Letter “Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star”
“I wish to be thankful that I can find enjoyment in simple pleasures, and such as are, as far as I can discover, purified from the dross of selfishness and vanity. I am pleased to look within and find that I am really happy when our complete family circle is formed, and useful and interesting conversation rises and circulates. Memory can recall many livelier scenes, and fancy could present others still gayer, but neither memory nor fancy can persuade me to be discontented with the present. The loss of every external source of happiness, by the death of our early friends here, forced us to seek it in its native soil:–I loved home, but I knew not how to value and enjoy it; and to the beauties of nature, though blooming around me, I was blind.
I Am Surprised
When looking back only a few years am surprised. I remember how totally insensible I was to those very scenes which are now constant sources of delight:–though I should have been not a little startled had my taste and feeling been questioned;–I, who have spent many a summer evening on the old ivy-grown town wall, reading Thomson to the friend of my bosom; and would often strain my eyes till they ached, that I might read by moonlight.
But now, though I confess I prefer the convenience of a commodious apartment, and willingly endure the gross vapors of tallow, and the barbarism of artificial light; yet, I flatter myself, I know better how to enjoy the glowing landscape, as well as to taste the beauties of the poet; and that I can contemplate the fair face of the moon with sensations not only more rational but more pleasurable, than in those days of idle romance.
Heart To Feel The Beauties
That I have an eye to see, and a heart to feel the beauties of nature, I acknowledge with gratitude; because they afford me constant and unsatiating pleasure; and form almost my only recreation. And I indulge the hope that having acquired a love for these simple enjoyments, I shall never lose it; but that in seasons of solitude or of sorrow, I shall continue to find sweet solace in them. When I am low in spirits, weary, or cross; or especially when worried by some of the teasing realities of life, one glance at the landscape from the window of my attic, never fails to produce a salutary effect upon me.
And when “’tis night and the landscape is lovely no more,” if the moon, planet, or star, condescends to beam through my casement, I revive under its benign influence. Many might smile at this; especially as I have renounced the title of romantic, and claim that of rational, for my pleasures; but I beg you will not. As a Londoner, I might apologize for dwelling so long upon such a theme; but to a poet, I cannot; and though to a correspondent I ought to apologize for so much egotism, to a friend I need not.
Inspired Me With This Effusion:“Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star”
its return is always reviving and cheering; and while all around is gay and young, we forget that our winter has approached a step nearer. I am sometimes startled when I recollect that very probably half my allotted days are already spent; and possibly much more. Years that once appeared such long and tedious periods, now seem to fly onward with such rapidity that they are gone ere they can be enjoyed or improved. Yet a few, at most, of these fleeting seasons, and I, and all I love, shall be forgotten upon earth …”(written by-SANJAY KUMAR KUNDAN)