|"Common Mouse" 2.25 inches high by 2 inches in diameter child's mug, ca. 1830|
It's a stretch connecting transferware patterns to the American classic Of Mice and Men. I have only been able to find a few patterns that show mice. I thought Steinbeck's title was from the Bible, but he took it from a line in Robert Burns' poem To A Mouse:
But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Burns was a ploughman, not a farmer (he didn't own the land). He was similar to the itinerant workers that people the California farm in Steinbeck's book. Below, see Burns apology to the mouse for accidentally destroying her nest while he was ploughing.
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!
Burns notes the bond between himself and the mouse who are both in thrall to chance and nature.
Steinbeck sees the same bond between George and Lennie. However, both Burns and George suffer from the knowledge of the past and the fear of the future while Lennie and the mouse are blessed with a constant present.
Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
|Scottish Field Mouse|