the interesting thing about audiobooks

is how much more I notice and wonder, and how many more connections I make when my mind is free from processing words on a page and my ears are doing all the work. I started listening to Stardust this morning, written and performed by Neil Gaiman, and listening to him is such a treat – he’s got a wonderful storyteller’s voice, and conveys wonder and magic all the more for not being overbearing or trying to make a big theatrical thing of it. Magic is just there, and here’s a story with that understanding.

So in Stardust, there’s an inn called The Seventh Magpie. I had never given this much thought before, and I’ve read Stardust a few times. But this morning, listening to the description of Mr. Bromios the innkeeper, I made the connection between the name of the inn and the magpie nursery rhyme.

One for sorrow, 

two for joy;

three for a girl, 

four for a boy;

five for silver, 

six for gold; 

seven for a secret

never to be told.

And then I wondered what Mr. Bromios’s secret is, to name his inn as he did. But from his description he sounds a little strange – not the kind you’d look sideways at, but just strange enough to have exceptionally good beer and wine – and he’s described as having come to the village of Wall from the outside, and having stayed. And I realized, as I’d never done before, that Mr. Bromios is probably not human, hailing instead from the realm of faerie across the Wall.

I’ve heard lots of versions of the magpie rhyme. Here’s another version:

One for sorrow, 

two for joy/mirth;

three for a wedding, 

four for a death/birth;

five for silver, 

six for gold; 

seven for a secret

never to be told.

This train of thought also got me thinking about how I would change it. Here’s my version:

One for sorrow, 

two for mirth;

three for a journey, 

four for rebirth;

five for silver, 

six for gold; 

seven for a secret

never to be told.

What do you think?

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