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A Grain of Sand

by P.K. Page, Vladyana L. Krykorka, illus.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/And Eternity in an hour.” These mysterious, beautiful words of William Blake have inspired a lovely picture book about the child’s imagination. The text of A Grain of Sand by P.K. Page (one of Canada’s major poets for decades) is a poem originally written for Derek Holman’s oratorio “An Invisible Reality,” which was performed in Toronto during the celebration of the new millennium.

Illustrated here by celebrated Canadian artist Vladyana Krykorka, Page’s poem reflects on Blake’s words, applying them to a child’s sense of the mystery, possibility, and marvel in the natural world. While her language echoes Blake and W.B. Yeats, she includes a modern, scientific awareness in her celebration of the “compound eye” of the fly, the compression of “outer space” to the size of a child’s hand, and the passage of eons in a hour. Indeed, the mysticism of the poem seems quite close to some of the speculations of modern physics.

In the rich colours and delicate details of her watercolour illustrations to A Grain of Sand, Krykorka makes her child figures at one with the natural world they are contemplating. At the same time, she adds her own imaginative interpretation, as when the decaying tree of old Father Time becomes the wooden cradle rocking the new baby. Designed and produced as a gift book, and dedicated to Page’s great-grandchildren, A Grain of Sand encourages the sharing of poetry and vision among the generations.