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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Why Wordsworth and I would probably have had Words

Have spent the evening with Wordsworth, stuck inside a little box room, surrounded by books about education, books about English, books about books, studying a poet whose message is basically 'forget books: go and sit under a tree and learn something decent'.

I would, William, I would. Only, sitting under a tree, solitarilily (new adverb there, chaps at the OED), saying nothing, doing nothing, just cogitating on leaves and branches and hazelnuts, does absolutely zilch for me. Sorry and all that, because you being venerated as Big Chief Romantic Poet Man probably means I should have more respect. But give me a street market any day with a bookstall, loads of noise and traffic racing past and I'm much more in the zone. I have to have things happening, see?

We went on holiday to the Wye Valley with some friends once - older folks, William, who would have had a proper regard for chaps like you who think fresh air is essential for the soul. They asked me what I'd like to do on the holiday, where I'd like to walk to. I told them I'd like to go and see what the library was like in each village nearby. They were shocked, Wills, visibly shocked. "But ... but ... you're meant to be a Christian. Don't you feel inspired if you look at a view?" Nope, I told them. Too much green and brown for me. And the longer the walk, the more green, the more brown. Forget it.

The next day, the rest of them climbed some hill or other while I sat at the bottom and read a book until they came back. I was very, very happy. For the rest of the holiday, they dug me in the ribs every time we went out, saying, 'Look at the view! Look at the view!' It became a family mantra for years and years and now everyone says it even if we're just walking past a village green. I know you used a fair bit of repetition in your stuff, Will, so you know how irritating that can be.

Wills, old chap. You're probably turning in your grave watching me teach your stuff. I have told the kids I'm not into nature. But that' s not to say I'm not into your poetry, Will. You see, however much you go on about sitting under trees and watching mountains (watching them do what, exactly?), you put all your poems in a book, didn't you? And I love a bit of irony.

Here's a bit of irony for you, Willzo. The house we just moved to has a 'view' out of the back window. We've never had a view before, and now I've got one to look at. And I love it. Why? It's a graveyard. A silent, Victorian graveyard, with mossy stones and ancient paths and broken angels' wings. Okay, okay, so that's not exactly a place where things happen, I know. But in a sense, Wilzy, it's a library, a library of lives. Each stone tells a story of something that did really happen. Ah, you see, you're not the only one who goes off on flights of fancy, Willy, old boy.

Yes, yes, there are a few trees, since you ask, Wizza. They look great at the moment: stripped bare, thin-branched and barren. All non-green like that, I could even get to like looking at them.

4 comments:

  1. I LOVE that graveyard. It's so peaceful, and slightly creepy at times, which just adds to the atmosphere.

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  2. Just as well. You'll probably be visiting us there some years ahead.

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  3. There are a few magical,mystical vistas...not many I'll admit. For me it was a chance to walk alone in the ancient olive tree grove where Joan of Arc saw her visions and see the baron's castle atop one of the hills at Domremy.It was a cool, misty Autumn afternoon.The quiet was broken only by the little train moving along the river side. So lovely it was. The magic still lives there. Count Sneaky

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  4. Ah, Count, even your comments are poetic ... I can picture the scene. Wordsworth would be proud of you.

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