from Evening Song by Willa Cather
Sometimes when our family drives into the Rocky Mountains, what looks like one mountain from far away will suddenly reveal itself to be two. That’s what happens to Meg as the book draws to a close and she prepares to rescue Father.
This was the moment for which she has been waiting, not only since Mrs Which whisked them off on their journeys, but during the long months and years before, when the letters had stopped coming, when people made remarks about Charles Wallace, when Mrs. Murry showed a rare flash of loneliness or grief. This was the moment that meant that now and forever everything would be all right.”
Meg saves her father. And then he saves her in the showdown with IT. But everything is not all right because IT-controlled Charles Wallace is left behind.
In the tessering away from her brother, Meg reaches a state of “absolute zero,” or in the words of Willa Cather’s poem, of blindness and sleep. She is as hurt as a body and soul can be, needing the attentions of Aunt Beast to recover. She also needs her guardian angels to return and announce, “WWEEE ARREHHERRE!”
But as wonderful as the three Mrs’s are, they can’t save Charles Wallace; they can only empower Meg to do the saving. They know only she is foolish enough and weak enough to save her brother.
How? By love.
Our poem by Willa Cather, “Evening Star,” tells us love is always the answer: none but Love, none but Love, none but Love. Meg’s strong mind and stronger heart are not enough. The thing that has her brother is evil, and she cannot love IT.
But she could love Charles Wallace.
She could stand there and she could love Charles Wallace.
‘I love you, Charles. Oh, Charles Wallace, I love you.’”
That’s all it takes — an all as wide as the world, an all as dark as the sea, an all beyond the light of every listless star, an all that is a true heart, an all that can bring us home.
Dear love, what thing of all the things that be
Is ever worth one thought from you or me,
Save only Love,
Save only Love?
The days so short, the nights so quick to flee,
The world so wide, so deep and dark the sea,
So dark the sea;
For Discussion or Journaling
1. Like Meg, have you known someone you love change to the point where they are almost unrecognizeable? How do you keep loving them?
2. In these chapters we see Father’s weaknesses. Parents, how have you held back your children in the interest of protecting them?
3. The end of the story is covered in joy — the word appears four times on the final page. It’s best expressed by the family dog, Fortinbras. Write the last scene from his perspective, including what he senses about the three Mrs’s.
We’re discussing Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time this month.
We’re also using the poem Evening Song by Willa Cather as a guide. If you have memories of discovering this book — either as a child or as a grownup — please share them below. And if this was your first time, we’re so glad you came along on the adventure.
Catch up on the other A Wrinkle in Time posts.
“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro