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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "


Opal The Movie

January 26th, 2012


Opal Whiteley

God’s bells are ringing a call to prayer in the woods today — in the shadows of the woodland I found Mission Bell blooming by the pathway — all its beauty blending with the shadows round about. Bronze Bells and Rice-Root both describe it — flowers of various modest shades, all mottled and checkered over — roots like little pearls or tiny grains of rice. Fritillaria is the name the scientists know it by; but to wee children’s hearts the name Mission Bell is most dear – God’s little prayer flowers, calling us to think of Him and all His goodness. 

Opal Whiteley – The Fairyland Around Us


I have written in previous posts about the extraordinary story of the nature writer Opal Whiteley. Her childhood nature diary was published when Opal was an adult but later became the subject of controversy, its authenticity  brought into question by many who believed that Opal had forged the diary as an adult.

Whatever the truth behind Opal’s writings, her work is deeply touching and does indeed possess a child-like, mystical and magical engagement with the natural world.

There is now a film about her life; an independently made and beautifully shot movie that deserves wider interest. For a short time the film will be available to buy at the movie’s website and it is also available via the Tribecca Film Institute’s Reframe Collection at .

Here is a poem from her 1923 collection The Flower of Stars:

The Little Room

In Man’s heart is a little room.

He has named it


And things are arranged along its wall

That he does not wish

To think about.

Every time he pushes something in there

He closes the door very tightly

But in hours when he is weary,

In the hours that walk around some midnights,

When high fires have burned

To a low flicker,

Then the little door swings on its hinges.

And no thing

Will make it stay closed

All of the time.


When he is near death

All the velvet-footed wanderers in there

Join the throng around his bed,

“We will not die,” they whisper

To one another

While Beauty waits with drawn lips and dry eyes.

But there is heard

The patter of a little sad rain

In her heart’s garden

Where some little flower buds

That were once thinking of the sun

Will never open

Because man keeps a little room

Of oblivion in his soul.

A still from 'Opal'

3 Responses to “Opal The Movie”

  1. I love the looks of this and very well might order it. It reminds of one of my favourite films….”FAIRY TALE …THE TRUE STORY ” . Something inside us all remembers and includes the beauty and magic of the nature realms. Thanks for putting bringing attention to this.

  2. Beautiful, I love that picture with all the butterflies. I remember when I was a little girl, waiting for fairies to come out and dance under a round bush at the bottom of the garden. Always at twilight, I would just sit staring out of the window, thinking I could see little coloured lights, fairies, flickering in the undergrowth.

  3. Sorry to hog your weblog Philip, it’s been another tough week with one thing another, and I have had to face some harsh realities concerning religion and church. Spirit/God has always been there for me, in black moments, in despair, in wanting to give up and die, but I was always aware of this other beneficient reality, it was always there without a doubt. And then this week I drove past a Roman Catholic children’s home, boarded up, sombre it’s physical reality took me along a path of research that I would rather not have gone. The suffering those children endured at the hands of nuns and priests, it just broke my heart. They did not have the luxury of looking for fairies, just violence and sexual abuse and I thought is all religion used in later life an extension from childhood beliefs in spiritual realms,magic and father christmas? An adult escapism from the horror that humans inflict on each other?
    I am going back to that orpahanage and I am going to place some flowers there for those children and light a candle for untold suffering.

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