Themes

In April of 1996 the international press carried the news of the death, at age 75, of Christopher Robin Milne, eternalized in a book by his father A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh ,as Christopher Robin.

I must think suddenly of matters too difficult for a bear of little brain. I have never asked myself what lies beyond the place where we live, I and Rabbit, Piglet and Eeyore, with our friend Christopher Robin. That is, we continued to live here, and nothing changed and I just ate my little something. Only Christopher Robin left for a moment.

Owl says that immediately beyond our garden Time begins, and that it is an awfully deep well. If you fall in it, you go down and down, very quickly, and no one knows what happens to you next. I was a bit worried about Christopher Robin falling in it, but he came back and then I asked him about the well. “Old bear”—he answered—“I was in it and I was falling and I was changing as I fell. My legs became long, I was a big person, I wore trousers down to the ground, I had a grey beard, then I grew old, hunched, and I walked with a cane, and then I died. It was probably just a dream, it was quite unreal. The only real thing was you, old bear, and our shared fun. Now I won’t go anywhere, even if I’m called for an afternoon snack.”

Percy, the Prince of Northumberland’s son (his elder brother, called Hotspur, appears in Shakespeare’s royal chronicles), was a knight without stain or reproach. Animated with an ardor to carry the Christian faith to the heathen, he joined the Teutonic Order fighting at the frontiers of Christendom. We would have known nothing of his presence in our regions if not for an item noted down under the year 1393 in the chronicle of Lindenblat and Vigand. The Order’s troops, after they crossed the River Neman at Alytus (Aliten), marched toward Lida. The banner with Saint George was carried by Brother Rupprecht Sekendorf. This angered Percy, who considered that that honor should belong to the knights from England. He drew his sword and an armed clash was imminent, but at the last moment the elders of the Order succeeded in reconciling the parties.

Nearly six hundred years later the Vatican declared that the patron of knighthood, Saint George fighting a dragon, never existed.

The system of public speech in that country seemed impenetrable to foreigners who only wondered how people could live and even continue to smile under so strong a pressure of obligatory phraseology. I succeeded in finding a key to that system when I remembered certain games of my childhood that we used to play in our tenement house yard. Whether racing after each other or exchanging blows, all the while we knew that it was enough to pronounce a magic word and you would automatically exclude yourself …

This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:

Print Premium Subscription — $94.95

Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on nybooks.com.

Online Subscription — $69.00

Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.

If you already have one of these subscriptions, please be sure you are logged in to your nybooks.com account. If you subscribe to the print edition, you may also need to link your web site account to your print subscription. Click here to link your account services.