One morning (raw it was and wet,
A foggy day in winter time)
A Woman in the road I met,
Not old, though something past her prime:
Majestic in her person, tall and straight;
And like a Roman matron's was her mien and gait.
The ancient Spirit is not dead;
Old times, thought I, are breathing there;
Proud was I that my country bred
Such strength, a dignity so fair:
She begged an alms, like one in poor estate;
I looked at her again, nor did my pride abate.
When from these lofty thoughts I woke,
With the first word I had to spare
I said to her, 'Beneath your Cloak
What's that which on your arm you bear?'
She answered soon as she the question heard,
‘A simple burthen, Sir, a little Singing-bird.’
And, thus continuing, she said,
‘I had a Son, who many a day
Sail'd on the seas; but he is dead;
In Denmark he was cast away;
And I have been as far as Hull, to see
What clothes he might have left, or other property.
‘The Bird and Cage they both were his;
'Twas my Son's Bird; and neat and trim
He kept it: many voyages
This Singing-bird hath gone with him;
When last he sailed he left the Bird behind;
As it might be, perhaps, from bodings of his mind.
‘He to a Fellow-lodger's care
Had left it, to be watched and fed,
Till he came back again; and there
I found it when my Son was dead;
And now, God help me for my little wit!
I trail it with me, Sir! he took so much delight in it.’
Sunday, 20 July 2014
Homage to QWERT YUIOP. Oh how the memories come back. I lived with this book for years. When I did eventually leave off reading it the cover had disintegrated and the pages had fallen out; free at last to float back to that looser wilder world of the newspapers and magazines. What a book! At least that is how I remember it. A degree course in literature in the years when I needed it most. Though Urgent Copy is the better collection, I think. Slow reviewing as opposed to fast. There is a lot of fast in QWERT YUIOP.
Sunday, 13 July 2014
A person changes. The effects are at first so subtle nobody notices them, although very quickly a threshold is crossed and we discover that a new kind of person has emerged out of the chrysalis of the old. An increase in confidence, an assurance in one’s own opinions and an ability to articulate them are all signs that Arati is now a working woman. She has the spirit of independence, which the household recognises before she does. This is not what anyone expected. The balance of power has shifted. And it is too late to turn back. For once a culture goes it cannot be reclaimed; one change leads to a thousand changes, until nothing is left of the old ways except superannuated custom.