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You Belong Here h/c

You Belong Here h/c You Belong Here h/c You Belong Here h/c

You Belong Here h/c back

M.H. Clark & Isabelle Arsenault


Page 45 Review by Stephen

You belong here.

You really do.

The publication of this quiet poem of profound truth could not be more timely.

For many weeks now we have, all of us, been assaulted by words, images and deeds seeking to divide and to destroy; to alienate individual human beings from one other. The isolationist emphasis has been on expelling and expunging.

Partly because of this ramped-up rhetoric of outright racism – and the long-term homophobia within the UK Independence party and elsewhere – lives have been destroyed, followed by confidence, a sense of security, physical safety and hope.

Here is a brightly shining beacon of hope just when we need it the most, and it is beautiful to behold.

It is in part a love poem with a gentle lilt whose personal refrain of constancy and commitment is interspersed by an ode to the natural order of things.

Free from fuss, it relies instead on its simplicity, its eloquence and its truth.

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault with an empathy for both its embracing sentiment and its quiet, comforting tone, the book’s colours glow gently, warmly, whether it’s light emanating from a window on a cold, wintry day or the sandstone shades of senescent leaves blowing past summer to fall.

You’d expect no less excellence from the artist of the equally tender JANE, THE FOX & ME but this is far more joyful throughout. The landscapes are all fully populated for a start, and not just by single species but by different creatures coexisting in tranquil harmony.

Why the animals are a silvery white will be revealed towards the end, and it’s ever so clever.

Each line of verse is artfully placed within the images, especially on the very first page whose final promise – and it is a promise – is set apart for maximum impact in a very specific location. It begins thus:

“The stars belong in the deep night sky
and the moon belongs there too,
and the winds belong in each place they blow by...”

we are told

“....and I belong here with you.”

What follows is an assurance that every living creature is in its right place, wherever it happens to be; for we all belong wherever we roam, and you all belong here with me.