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Posts tagged ‘W B Yeats’

Emotion recollected in tranquility

If you have been with me a little while you may recall that I moved to a rather palatial temporary home in Grenoble in February and that I knew I would have to give it up at the beginning of July.  That time has come and in discussion with the local fire brigade, I have conceded that chaining myself to the stunning ornate pillars in the drawing room and refusing to move will simply be undignified, probably messy and not at all couth.  A teeny bit reluctantly, therefore, in a few hours I will close the door on this lovely interlude and very soon I will share what happens next.  In the meantime though, and given that it is summer and collective thoughts turn to high days and holidays, I thought a little less taxing on you might be to run a series of photographs accompanying poems, prose or lyrics that never fail to snare my heart and noose my soul.  Those which effortlessly conjure emotions and tempt my teeny-tiny brain to shimmy into something resembling coherence.

The first offering is this, a picture, taken more than three years ago in the north of le Cantal in the village that was then home and to whence I will head later today before decamping to the south of le Cantal to check on our seemingly endless renovation of a tiny square house.

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It seemed then, as now, to evoke this beautiful poem by a favourite amongst of all favourite poets …

He Wishes For The Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats

PS:  The title comes from Wordsworth’s brilliant definition of poetry that it is ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility’

And now I simply must dash  … .toodlepip!

NB:  My internet access will be tenuous until the weekend so please forgive me if I am tardy in responding to your messages and in reading your own wondrous blog-offerings

The soft look your eyes once had

I was fortunate to have two Grannies when I was small.  In fact I had two until I was nearly 16 but unhappily one succumbed to dementia and was in a nursing home for nearly 8 years before her life extinguished.  So, at the time, half of mine was spent with her vibrant, outspoken and faintly outrageous personality, full of bell-like tinkling laughter chiming through her house replete  with rather exotic and eminently touchable artifacts and half with a shrinking, fading somewhat pathetic reminder of whom she had been.  I remember being vaguely scared of her when we went to visit as she evaporated slowly away.  She was withered and bent and painfully thin with skin parched and almost transparent through which the vessels carrying her aged blood were defiantly visible.  Dessiccating.  She had the faint odour of care home and often didn’t utter a sound except the thinnest of hints of breath in and out.  When she did speak she had a habit of rambling in guttural spitty Arabic having lived in Egypt in the 1920s and 30s during the up-market tourist boom of that era when my grandpapa was chief accountant for Thomas Cook.  Sadly it was a relief to be sent outside to play with the nursing home dog – an unfeasibly large pyreneen mountain dog called Uggles who resembled Nana in Peter Pan and was similarly hard-wired to nurse-maiding children.  When she died at the age of almost 92 there were few left to mourn her so her funeral was tiny – eight of us including my cousins, my elder brother and I.  So feeble were our collective voices that the crematorium put a cassette tape of the Kings College Choir singing our chosen hymns to bolster us up.  Outside it was cold and damp and I realised my father was crying.  I realised my father was a son.  I realised my father was a feeling, emotional creature just like me.  It was a seminal moment.

As I’ve grown older I miss her even though I barely had opportunity to acquaint with her and I wish I’d had the moment to know her better.  I’m told I’m like her.  I take it as the greatest  compliment – she lost an arm in the First World War when nursing in France.  Gangrene.  Not carelessness, just caring for others in greater need.  When we were small children she used to swing one armed into a string hammock and then pull us all in with her, one at a time and read us stories under the lilac trees.  She also had a wonderful and positively enormous cat called Kim who resembled an overstuffed fur cushion.  She was, therefore Granny Kim.

This lady sitting in les Jardins de Luxembourg hijacks me, reverses time and  delivers me to a presentday now past and long forgotten yet seamlessly evoked.  A time I wish I had noticed when the then was now.  She knows nothing of her curious power of course as she casually soaks in the sunshine.  Behind her the children play, the lovers drift hand in hand, friends gossip on benches.  Every one of us growing older as time relentlessly moves us forward.  Carpe diem.

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I post the picture in response to The Daily Press Weekly Photo Challenge entitled ‘Time’ – you can see all the other, far worthier interpretations here

PS:  The title is from one of  the most touching and bittersweet poems I know ….

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

WB Yeats

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Converge is the title of the Weekly Photo Challenge and here you have it … all sorts of natural lines converging on a crisp November day in my village.  The river is La Tarentaine and I think she has the feel of a golden cloth as she drapes herself over the wier.  Hence the quote from Yeats.  Who I love unconditionally.

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Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.