MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE Revisited

Dear Reader,

I just reread Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (1947). The first time I read it I must have been 7 or 8. Then, its heft imprinted the skin on my forearms, and its story of wild horses, heroic kids, and exotic islands imprinted my imagination; now, its rigorous verbs and extended metaphors impress the writer and editor in me. To see what I mean read the following excerpt. (A storm caught a galleon transporting ponies from Spain to Panama.):

A cold wind spiraled down the hatch. It whistled and screamed above the rough voice of the captain. It gave way only to the deep flump-flump of the thunder.

The sea became a wildcat now, and the galleon her prey. She stalked the ship and drove her off her course. She slapped at her, rolling her victim from side to side. She knocked the spars out of her and used them to ram holes in her sides. She clawed the rudder from its sternpost and threw it into the sea. She cracked the ship’s ribs as if they were brittle bones. Then she hissed and spat through the seams.

The pressure of the sea swept everything before it. Huge baskets filled with gravel for ballast plummeted down the passageway between the ponies, breaking up stalls as they went by.

Suddenly the galleon shuddered. From bow to stern came an endless rasping sound! The ship has struck a shoal. And with a ripping and crashing of timber the hull cracked open. In that split second the captain, his men, and his live cargo were washed into the boiling foam.

The wildcat sea yawned. She swallowed the men. Only the captain and fifteen ponies managed to come up again. The captain bobbed alongside the stallion and made a wild grasp for his tail, but a great wave swept him out of reach…. The wind calmed.

The sea was no longer a wildcat. She became a kitten, fawning and lapping about the ponies’ legs.

What do you think? I think Wow! I think Marguerite Henry may have inspired many young (and unyoung) writers to write thriving stories that include believable metaphors and sturdy verbs.

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P.S. For the fun of it, try this simple extended metaphor exercise posted by Alaska SLRC: http://www.literacynet.org/alaska/extended.html. I’d love to read what you create through this exercise.

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2 Responses to “MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE Revisited”


  1. 1 mattiespillow 01/21/2009 at 10:03 pm

    I agree about Marguerite Henry as an influence on young writers. Reading the passage you quote, I realize what an influence on my own writing style and content she has been.

    I had the good fortune at 8 years old to meet Misty herself when my grandfather, who knew everyone on the Eastern Shore, took me to Pony Penning. I shook Misty’s hoof and saw Maureen Beebe, then in her early 20s, riding a horse in the Pony Penning parade. This was long before the bridge to Assateague was built and people could camp among the ponies.

    I’d love to add a link to your blog on my blog mattiespillow.wordpress.com .

  2. 2 Faye Quam Heimerl 01/21/2009 at 10:50 pm

    Hello, Hello! How great of you to respond to my review of Misty….. And to think you were able to MEET Misty? Lucky, lucky you. I took at look at your blog, and it’s wonderful–your perspective on the horses and so on. And you’re a dancer? Lovely. I don’t teach or dance now, but I still consider myself a dancer, always will. I desperately miss it sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t join in again…. Please do link to my blog. I’d be honored.


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