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(P B S’s gravestone in The Protestant Cemetery, Rome.

28/8/04 Author: carptrash  Einar Einarsson Kvaran

transferred from en wikipaedia)

Cor Cordium‘ was inscribed on Shelley’s grave and means ‘heart of hearts.

Valentine’s Day  seemed an apt time to look into what happened to his

physical heart.

Apparently Mary Shelley kept it wrapped up in white silk and it was

placed between the pages of a book, at her husband’s poem on

Keats: ‘Adonais.‘  It can’t have been the whole organ, so must have been

a sliver which was saved from immolation on the beach at Spezia.

It reminded me of Robert the Bruce’s heart being encased in a lead

casket. It was meant to be taken to The Holy Land, but Douglas failed to

dispose of it there, so it returned to Scotland.

Hearts were often removed and, like Thomas Hardy’s, were buried

separately from the rest of the remains.

It is rather ghoulish to ponder on what Isabella had in her pot of basil,

or what Walter Raleigh’s widow carried around with her in a leather bag.

Yes, sometimes it was a head and not a heart.  People can be weird.

(I don’t know what you have to feed basil, the herb, with, but I never

seem to  have any luck with growing it in a pot.  Isabella seemed to be

quite successful, judging by Holman Hunt’s painting, but I don’t think

Monty Don would prescribe such an extreme compost.)

Anyway, my next dramatic monologue references Mary, in later life,

meditating on their September voyage up the Thames, in the

company of Charles Clairmont and the novelist Thomas Love Peacock.

They failed to reach Cricklade and the source of the river and, in any

case, did not have the £20 to pay the navigation fee for their skiff to

enter The Severn Canal.  So, they stayed two nights in Lechlade and

P B S ( pernicious bowel syndrome- not) wrote a poem in the

churchyard there.

Peacock called the inn ‘comfortable‘ so it would have had a good review

on ‘Tripadvisor,’ had such a site had been in existence.

The day before yesterday I traced the hostelry in which they stayed and

viewed a bedroom which MIGHT have been the one in which they lodged.

Then I walked through the churchyard of St Lawrence’s Church to admire

the snowdrops, which they certainly would not have done, their visit

having been in late summer, 1815.

My poem:

Cor Cordium  (a poem on Valentine’s Day)

see next post…

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