Halloween may be over but the celebration here at Gathering Books has just begun. Today’s poetry post is a classic from visionary director Tim Burton. During the promotional release of his latest animated film Frankenweenie, I found a hardcover picture book of one of my favorite Tim Burton films of all time – The Nightmare Before Christmas. While I’ve been on the lookout for the graphic novel of said film, it was such a delight seeing the picture book along with other Tim Burton memorabilia. Let’s get this party started, shall we? The Poetry Friday roundup is hosted today by Donna from Mainely Write.
It was late one fall in Halloweenland, and the air had quite a chill.
Against the moon a skeleton sat, alone upon a hill.
He was tall and tin with a bat bow tie;
Jack Skellington was his name.
He was tired and bored in Halloweenland —
Everything was always the same.
The illustration opposite those verses, as shown above, was one of my favorite illustrations in the book. It’s a signature “Nightmare” art, and the silhouette of Jack Skellington against the big, bright moon captured the interest of the little photographer in me. I love silhouette shots. Besides, the black and yellow color scheme always works out just fine.
All that night and through the next day,
Jack wandered and walked. He was filled with dismay.
Then deep in the forest, just before night,
Jack came upon an amazing sight.
Not twenty feet from the spot where he stood
Were three massive doorway carved in wood.
He stood before them, completely in awe,
His gaze transfixed by one special door.
Entranced and excited, with a slight sense of worry,
Jack opened the door to a white, windy flurry.
I haven’t seen the film for a long time, and it’s really nice revisiting the story because the scenes from the movie are coming back to me like it was just yesterday. The verses above reminded me of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A door that leads to a faraway land is a staple in children’s literature. There is an element of magic that one cannot dismiss.
In Christmas Town, Santa was making some toys
When through the din he heard a soft noise.
He answered the door, and to his surprise,
He saw weird little creatures in strange disguise.
They were altogether ugly and rather petite.
As they opened their sacks, they yelled, “Trick or treat!”
Then a confused Santa was shoved into a sack
And taken to Halloween to see mastermind Jack.
It was pretty hilarious trying to picture Santa Claus being shoved into a big sack by three little monsters, don’t you think? I like how the story toys with the idea that we all serve a special purpose in this world. Jack Skellington may be bored with Halloween, but he was the best in his trade. Five stars for his effort in learning Santa’s job but he simply wasn’t good enough. He belongs to the graveyard for all of eternity. Here are my favorite lines from the book:
He visited the house of Susie and Dave;
They got a Gumby and Pokey from the grave.
Then on to the home of little Jane Neeman;
She got a baby doll possessed by a demon.
A monstrous train with tentacle tracks,
A ghoulish puppet wielding an ax,
A man-eating plant disguised as a wreath,
And a vampire teddy bear with very sharp teeth.
Tim Burton is as normal as Jack Skellington could ever be. As I was reading those lines, characters from Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy sprung to mind. I wouldn’t say that The Nightmare Before Christmas is 100% kid-friendly. Yet, it is not for the faint-hearted, either. Tim Burton is all about the bizarre and the macabre. I love it. To this day, Tim Burton remains my favorite director of all time.
Here is another post-Halloween, pre-Holiday treat: the official movie trailer of Rise of the Guardians, in theaters November 21st.