Velveteen: A Song for Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit was one of my favorite childhood books. As a kid, I empathized with the poor stuffed rabbit, who was ridiculed by other toys, the nanny, and actual rabbits, before the doctor orders him burned with all of the other germ-ridden toys once the boy falls ill with scarlet fever.

But the other day, a Facebook post by a parent suddenly made me think about the song from a totally different perspective. I was curious about Margery Williams, not knowing anything about her life. I read that she had two children of her own, and that many of her books focused on children who were isolated or different from others. Parenting is always challenging, but especially when you have extra reason to fear for your kids’ safety or acceptance.

So I wrote this song for those kids, and for the people who love and support them. May the nursery magic protect us all.

Velveteen, velveteen,
Are you real,
Are you seen?
Or are you lost in between?
Velveteen.

You were a gift, bright and new,
And everybody thought they knew
Who you were, what you’d do,
We couldn’t see

The part you kept deep inside,
How you longed to be alive,
To be yourself, not just survive,
To be free.

Velveteen, velveteen,
Are you real, are you seen?
Or are you lost in between?
Velveteen.

But one day you showed the spark that burned inside you,
And let us see the you you couldn’t hide.
And though others might tease you and deride you,
I hope you know you fill my heart with pride.

Velveteen, velveteen,
You don’t know how much you mean.
You are real,
You are seen
Velveteen.

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