( The ‘Abbey’ WyrdLight.com; Antony McCallum, 2007
transferred to Commons from Wikipaedia by Kurpfalzbilder)
At Painshill, absence rather than presence
is tangible. Arnold’s cottage now gone;
no Temple of Bacchus: at least, not yet
(so no iconographical message
from Apollo, Mercury, Venus, Zeus);
the Gothic Tower and Crystal Grotto closed-
the latter seems to have lost its sparkle;
the former lost its marbles long ago.
A middle-aged couple are unable
to have a sly snog behind a pillar,
as I appear on cue with a camera,
desecrating a Romantic landscape;
ready to immortalise an abbey
that never was….
…..I forgot to take note
of one of Europe’s most lofty cedars;
I managed to miss the Gianbologna;
was underwhelmed by the mausoleum’s
empty, uncommemorative niches.
I can’t say that I noticed the cork tree
and walked around a silver, ghost-like Mole,
but saw no gentlemen in silk breeches
pop myopic heads up from mounds of earth.
Even the hermit scarpered to the pub,
with his employer’s seven hundred quid
and Hamilton himself retired to Bath.
Smoke spiralled from branches that left bare stumps;
no doves hovered over The Chinese Bridge;
nomads had vacated the ornate tent
and pushchair-strolling mothers ignored me.
But though there was no fruit left on the vine
and there were no fish on the angler’s line;
the cascade was a desultory drip
and I trod on Canadian Goose shit,
yet the Genius of the Place reached out and
touched my heart with elegant green fingers.
Adonais, Charles Clairmont, cor cordium, Cricklade, Douglas, dramatic monologue, Holamn Hunt, Isabella and pot of basil, Keats, Lechlade, Mary Shelley, Monty Don, Percy B Shelley, Protestant Cemetery, Robert the Bruce, Rome, Severn Canal, skiff, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Love Peacock, Tripadvisor, Valentine's Day, Walter Raleigh
(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
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
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.
Cor Cordium (a poem on Valentine’s Day)
see next post…
agapanthus, Alan Bennett, Alan Tichmarsh, Alethea, bidding prayers, Catherine Morland, designer handbags, Eastleigh, Echinacea, Glucosamine, Lady Catherine de Burgh, Sandbanks, St Cross, Talking Heads, Venus Fly Traps, Winchester Cathedral
(A continuation of our previous musings on Jane Austen’s eavesdroppings culled from her position beneath the floor of Winchester Cathedral.)
There have been seasonal floral displays in various churches in the Hampshire region, including St Cross, over the years. The last word on flower arranging was probably given by Alan Bennett in his Talking Heads 1 monologue Bed Among the Lentils, about Mrs Shrubsole and the precise placement of a fir cone in her floral arrangement, Forest Murmurs.
Nevertheless I can imagine Jane Austen tuning into covert cathedral discussions being conducted, though masked by arrangements of Venus Fly Traps and burgeoning bocage.
Flower Arranger 1:
I daresay floral occupations are always desirable in girls of your girth, as a means of affording you fresh air and more exercise than you would normally take. A passion for agapanthus may be deemed somewhat amateurish, but Alan Tichmarsh may yet attend and then, who can tell where your newfound skills may lead?
Ah Pansy, you enquired as to when my grand passion first surfaced, so to speak. It developed gradually, but particularly after my first visit to my paramour’s enormous estate in Eastleigh.
Unfortunate that the more vulgar might rhyme, or connote that once verdant lea with “beastly.”
Ita vero. Sadly, he is a fit and extremely healthy older man, notwithstanding his vast cache of stocks and shares and general lack of penetration. I could endeavour to live with him, however minimal his funds, providing that I should have access to them all. I would aspire to Winchester, but a villa in Sandbanks would, of course, be preferable and might prove an initial rung on the property ladder.
Arranger 1: Indeed, it would be wrong to marry for money, but foolhardy to marry without it.
How I would love to expose those furtive rummagers in designer handbags who rapidly switch off their mobiles before the bidding prayers, lest their lovers interrupt their devotions, or who use their fumbling as an avoidance technique when the offertory bags circulate.
At some of the local school services, one often hears some young prodigy, called Alethea or otherwise, make a smug, sententious remark to her doting mater. Through over-attention, the chit’s natural self-confidence has been honed into haughty assurance. Catherine Morland’s conviction still stands -ie/ that there is a violent and uncertain life which lurks beneath the veneer of society.
I am constantly privy to rehearsals of the accomplishments and marvels of female students, who all play musical instruments, achieve A*s and who compete in equine sports at the highest level. Yet, I have never heard a young lady spoken of, for the first time, without her being lauded to the Empyrean. Yet, deficiency of nature is often little assisted by education or society. A greater influence seems to be perpetrated by the expectation of property, usually acquired through trade, or, dare I suggest, a lottery ticket.
Nowadays, such nouveaux positively display themselves in society magazines, besporting themselves at various charitable functions of questionable taste. Their double-barrelled nomenclatures can scarcely be fitted into the copy without a prodigious profligacy of paper and ink.
Self-appointed, knowledgeable women offer their medical knowledge to others, whether invited to declaim, or not. They remind me of Lady Catherine de Burgh, when she held forth:
Ah, yes, my experience of the lifelong care of my valetudinarian husband has led me to recommend Echinacea during the winter months and Glucosamine throughout the year.
Their nerves command a high respect, as they have evidently been old friends with whom they have been intimately acquainted for a number of years. Truly these are women whom one cannot regard with too much deference.
And so we must leave Jane at the moment as she is a little fatigued by this peroration , but she promises to continue to amuse us on the morrow.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
Alan Bates, Andrew Marvell, Antiques Roadshow, Babylon, barmkin, Ben Batt, Corydon, Damon the Mower, Deep Heat, Downton Abbey, eclogues, Farmers' Markets, Fiona Bruce, Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, Green-Winged orchid, Grim reaper, Hayter, Highgrove, Lammas, meadow management, Mower to the Glow-Worms, Mr D'Arcy, One Man Went to Mow, pastoral, Pele Tower, Ph.D, Pig-gate, Poldark, Schroeckenfux, scything, snath, Stag's Breath liqueur, The Go-Between, troubador, Voltarol, wu wei
Diana Fotheringay-Syylk was administering embrocations
and a little tlc to a recumbent Murgatroyd, who is, as some
of you will recall, the owner of a Borders Pele tower.
Privately, Diana thought that he had been over-doing things
and Voltarol was not really having a great deal of an effect on
his lumbar aches and pains.
It had not helped when he had lugged plastic crates round the
local Farmers’ Markets, selling his Empress Bangers and porcine
Yes, Dear Reader, Pig-gate had already struck, before the
Cameronian variety hit the news.
(Photo:Alpha from Melbourne)
Once he had cleared out the pig-pen area he decided to
re-seed it, to please Diana, who had been upset when their
gardening firm had rotovated the wrong field and inadvertently
destroyed their recently established Highgrove-style wildflower
meadow and a group of what she took to be Green-Winged Orchids.
(Photo by Didier Desouens)
From then on, Murgatroyd had decided to do away with mechanical
Hayters and, Diana, having been inspired by Aidan Turner, like so
many females d’un certain age, had booked him in – Murgatroyd, that
is – for a Lammas weekend scything course in Brighton, where he was
going to learn the sociology of the bar peen.
His back-ache had been exacerbated by carrying the large A4 pack of
information he had been given at the start of the course. Someone had
probably gained a Ph.D in Rural Studies from producing it.
That meant she could watch the boxed set of Poldark in peace, while
he practised with his new, Austrian light-weight, zero-carbon
However, her pastoral idyll had been disturbed by Murgatroyd’s
complaints, not in the manner of a Corydon, or passionate troubador,
but more in line with the average husband who experiences muscular
twitches, or sciatica. He was recumbent and had hung his instrument on
the equivalent of a willow tree, while he lamented his estate, as if he
had been exiled from Babylon. He felt as if one of the Four Horsemen
of the Apocalypse had wounded him – perhaps that skinny one with the
hoodie and the big scythe.
We’ve run out of ‘Voltarol’. You’ll just have to use the ‘Deep Heat’ until
the shops open tomorrow and I go down to the pharmacy, Diana
informed him, noting that The Go-Between was on later that evening.
What a pity she didn’t have a little gopher, like Leo, to pop upstairs
with the tube of emollient. She was fed up running up and down stairs
pandering to the invalid.
Having taken him a Stag’s Breath liqueur and having poured a generous
shot for herself, she settled down with the remote in a comfy armchair, in
This had better be good, for she had enjoyed the Alan Bates version.
For some subliminal reason, she hummed One Man Went to Mow, Went to
Mow a Meadow…
It wasn’t too long before she found herself re-winding to check the length
of the snath handle Batt was implementing. Impressive-and that was just
his wu wei.
Meanwhile Murgatroyd was looking at a John Deere catalogue while Ben
Batt cut a swathe through Downton‘s viewing audience and no one could
remember what Fiona Bruce had been rabbiting on about on The Antiques
Roadshow. For, there was an attempt to high-jack a Mr D’Arcy moment for
Later, in bed – the spare bed – Diana could not clear snatches of eclogues
from her overactive mind. She kept thinking of Andrew Marvell poems, such
as Damon the Mower, The Mower to the Glow-worms and Mowing Song.
Snippets of the verses repeated themselves:
Sharp like his scythe his sorrow was,
And withered like his hopes the grass.
How happy might I still have mowed,
Had not Love here his thistles sowed.
…there among the grass fell down,
By his own scythe, the Mower mown…
T ‘is death alone that this must do:
For Death thou art a Mower too.
Well, she reflected, Life is too short for meadow
management. I think we will just pave it over again
and get some pots with pelargoniums. I’ll go to the
Garden Centre after I’ve been to the chemist’s.
And she decided that Alan Bates had, after all,
been more satisfactory.
a rose is a rose, Altissimo, Arthur Bell, Bobby Charlton, Bourbon, centrifoliate, Duke of Windsor, gathering rosebuds, Grandpa Dickson, Handel, hybrid, Josephine, Lilli Marlene, Madame Butterfly, Malmaison, musk, Paul, Persephone, Picasso, Pluto, Queen Elizabeth, Rob Roy, rose-coloured spectacles, Sarabande, Scherzo, St Rose of Viterbo, Uncle Walter, Violet Carson
From over 20 years ago. They say it has been a bumper year for roses.
In that quiet period which precedes dusk,
I ramble in my rose garden, inspecting every bloom-
whether it be centrifoliate, Bourbon, tea or musk
and feel for poor Persephone, who met her doom
while gathering flowers. Then, somewhat galled,
with secateurs in hand, I prune Picasso’s shape
and de-shoot Bobby Charlton; snip off Rob Roy’s balled
pompoms-all to avenge her rape.
I see The Duke of Windsor has reverted to his roots;
he’s mainly sucker. His infestation calls for a systemic,
to safeguard Queen Elizabeth and, if it suits,
his exile to another bed, to stall an epidemic.
Catharsis calms me, so I conduct and orchestrate
Handel, Sarabande and Scherzo. Altissimo’s too flush:
but such a quality I always tolerate
in any standard, climber, hybrid bush.
Would a rose by any other word smell quite the same?
If Violet Carson, Uncle Walter, Grandpa Dickson, Arthur Bell
should be compared to Madame Butterfly, or the lush Lilli Marlene?
Did jilted Josephine’s sterility inspire Malmaison’s cultivation?
And did she feel that floral beauty compensated for the tolling of Love’s knell
and comprehend, with Paul, that fleshly thorns are inherent in all exaltation?
Lovers believe no canker will attack their pedicels
and, like St Rose of Viterbo, their love will know no putrefaction.
If so, they look at Life through rose-tinted spectacles:
for Pluto may make bargains, but he still culls with satisfaction.
But, if a stem has never blossomed, then it might as well be briar
( the poets said)
and, with the unproductive fig, be destined for the fire-
else we must be what we must be: ripeness is all.
For a rose is a rose is a rose – evanescent beauty is its call.
A re-blog, as every year I get a kick out of
seeing the magnificent wistaria at the entrance
to The Cathedral Close in Winchester:
WAITING FOR THE WISTARIA
Waiting weeks for wistaria’s welter
of tendrils, to titivate Prior’s Gate;
to flourish its purple helter-skelter
ear-rings. For Winchester, it seems quite late;
elsewhere trailers blossomed against bright brick
facades, yet soon their petals will be spent.
But this one saves its special party trick
till last-like choice Cana wine, heaven scent.
blood geld, Cain, crown of thorns, Cybore, Dorset, George MacDonald, Haceldama, Jacobus, Joshua Tree, Judas, Laurence Whistler, Moreton Church, Moses, nard, parricide, Pilate, Redbud, Ruben, Sanhedrin, Scariot, Sicarius, Tree of Life
It’s that time of year when we remember Judas…
Ever since I wrote my poem called ‘The Forgiveness Window’ (in my Poetry
section), inspired by glass windows in Moreton Church, by Laurence
Whistler, I have been meditating on Judas Iscariot and the question of
forgiveness. This poem has been some time on my back burner, but I gave
birth to it this morning.
The Judas Tree
(George Macdonald: When a man begins to loathe himself he begins to be saved.)
Those plumb-like seed pods cannot mask the corpse.
The sagging branch touches the earth. Strange fruit
suspended from a limb: a pendulum
measuring a moment of treachery.
At each bloom’s heart is a crown of thorns.
From the scarified trunk blood beads burst forth-
a rosary protecting its blush of shame.
Cybore had a premonition:
she dreamt her son would ruin Issachar.
She and her husband, Ruben, cast him off-
Moses-like, adrift, in a pitched basket.
He then washed up on Scariot, whose Queen,
childless, lonely, feigned a pregnancy,
taking the outcast child to her own breast.
Anxiety dispelled, she then conceived
her own son, Jacobus, whom Judas loathed.
Supplanted, he destroyed, as Cain did; fled
to Pilate’s service in Jerusalem.
Then, asked to fetch his master some ripe fruit,
he argued with the owner of the land
and slew him with a rock. Haceldama-
The Field of Blood- is his, with the man’s wife,
who promptly tells him of his parricide.
Now he is Sicarius: ‘assassin.’
He follows Jesus, seeking redemption,
yet dips his fingers in the common purse
and, angry that three hundred silver coins
spent on some precious ointment should be poured
on the Messiah’s feet, he takes umbrage;
betrays his Master for a tenth of that-
the price one paid to liberate a slave.
Since bowels of mercy he had none, he spilled
his innards from that tree, so that his soul’s
quietus should not defile the lips
that had kissed God. He died not on the earth;
nor in the heavens (where men and angels range),
but dangled in the air, devils’ plaything.
Jesus harrowed Hell to plant His tree;
to cut down Judas and to set him free.
Look! Now we see the pods have seeds in them
and, though deciduous, those leaves return,
heart-shaped, assuring us of sins forgiven.
Its branches lifted up, like hands in prayer,
surrounded by an intense cloud of nard,
the Redbud props a ladder to the stars
and even men like Judas can aspire
to Paradise, via The Tree of Life.
Blood-geld bought the Gentile burial plot-
the first Garden of Rest, that Potter’s Field.
(Sanhedrin-laundered guilt’s slick charity.)
But the Potter makes new vessels from shards,
firing up His kiln from the Joshua trees.
Abel Tasman, Ancient Evenings, Beatles, Billy Connolly, Bjork, Blarney, Chris Ofili, Cloaca Professional, Damien HIrst, David Austin, David Walsh, Disneyland, Eden rose, Emerson, Evandale, Gilbert & George, Glenorchy, Golden Gay ice lolly, Hemingway, Hobart, Imagine, James Kelman, Jeffrey Archer, Jimmy Reid, John Brown's Shipyard, John Lennon, Keir Hardie, Lady Luck, Lenin, Leonidas, Matthew Barney, Michael Connor, MONA, muck brass, Norman Mailer, Pierre de Ronsard rose, Quadrant, taboos, tassie, Tours, W S Burroughs, Whitman, Wim Delvoye
Well, I have to admit those Tassies are nothing short of enterprising.
One has heard of carrying coals to Newcastle, but some of these guys
are trying to sell loads of sheep poo in plastic bags for five dollars-
and largely failing, from what I could discern from the car window.
I didn’t unwind it to check.
We passed a somnolent vendor who had parked his pick-up filled
to the gunnels with the stuff at the roadside and had hung out a
handwritten sign advertising his wares, in the open sun. Not too
many takers, but full marks for bright, or something that rhymes
with that adjective, optimism.
For something a little more fragrant-and I don’t mean Jeffrey Archer’s
wife, Mary, do visit the Old Municipal Building in Evandale. At least it
was open to customers, unlike nearly every other establishment on
the tourist trail, at the height of the season. The garden outside the
cafe is resplendent with, and perfumed by, cascading Pierre de
Ronsard roses, whose beauty I last witnessed in the original Abbey
Gardens near Tours, where the poet once composed, and perhaps
composted this Eden variety. Mind you, it was probably before
David Austin perfected the floral breed.
When I saw the pick-up was just as laden on our return journey,
I thought its owner could do worse than making a donation of his
unsold goods to the aforementioned garden. I’m sure the
Romanticae would be appreciative and would bloom even more
In the heat I was tempted to partake of a Golden Gay ice lolly,
but I was unsure of making a politically incorrect request. Not
that the descendants of Abel Tasman have particular scruples in
respect of language use. Even the term Tassie apparently refers
to female genitalia.
David Walsh, the evil -??- genius behind MONA, in Hobart (Museum
of Old and New Art) does not mince his words. He is quite capable
of challenging the untouchables in the art world, such as Damien
The first fact about Damien Hirst is that he is the richest artist who
The second fact is that he doesn’t deserve to be.
Walsh is not backward about coming forward and has
broken all sorts of taboos, even decorating the walls of
his amazing temple to Art with a line of plaster- well-
Described as presiding over a subversive adult Disneyland,
Walsh exhibits a keen interest in all things excremental,
so, maybe the vendor chappie could pitch up and station
his pick-up in the parking space irreverently marked: God.
He might be able to shift a few tons, justifying it as a multi-
sensory installation. After all, the medium has been popular
with Gilbert & George, Chris Ofili and the like. It might sit –
oops, nearly made a typo- well with the Cloaca Professional
by Wim Delvoye, which literally turns food to faeces before
your twitching nostrils. I don’t think the fact that the artist
is Belgian has any bearing down on it.
I think most people prefer the other similarly-hued national
Michael Connor of Quadrant commented:
MONA is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation.
However, I found the building aesthetically stimulating and
Walsh’s statements self-ironic. Or were they?
He has made remarks such as:
I suspect that our marketing is probably better than our
Now I am the bloody institution. Now I’m the arbiter of good
taste. The thing I abhor.
For someone who grew up in the allegedly working class
suburb of Glenorchy, and who beat the casinos at their own
game, Walsh has dug something back into his Tasman soil,
producing a tourist magnet, so I say, Good on you, mate!
If one doesn’t like anything in the museum, there is an
opportunity to vote on the exhibits by expressing approval
or dislike, via an Ipod.
What will Walsh do with the feedback?
W: Take the popular stuff out.
The main exhibition which The Husband and I took in was
Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, which had connections
to a Norman Mailer novel.
Apparently zombie actors had roamed around Barney’s studio
in New York, which was fitted out like Mailer’s former Brooklyn
home. The undead spoke dialogue from Mailer, Hemingway,
Whitman, Emerson and WS Burroughs. There were speeches
on rot, decay, defecation, putrefaction and fermentisation.
No wonder Bjork, his erstwhile partner, has voted with her elfin
Barney referred to descriptions from Ancient Evenings, on waste,
city sewage systems, sanitation and re-cycling plants.
If this is art, then his name would be better represented as
Blarney, some would say.
I wish I had Lady Luck on my side and patronage by the bucket-load
and then I could produce River of Tenements, representing the Clyde
in a frozen stream, with pop-up talking heads rising out of its silted
depths, mouthing philosophical patter by holograms of Billy Connolly,
Keir Hardie, Jimmy Reid and James Kelman, amid abandoned shopping
trolleys. Mangled cranes would form the entrance arch
I would gild the gates of the old John Brown’s Shipyard, re-named with
a consonantal substitution and would have a video on a loop, recalling
the epic moment in the Seventies, when an encouraging bouquet of
roses arrived at the usurping workers’ entrance, bearing a card from
one of the Beatles and his Japanese companion-in-politics.
They’re from Lenin?! cried an incredulous wee would-be Communist.
Ah thought he wis deid!
Spin the wheel one more time, David, cast the die and pull the
pokie lever one more time, baby, and find me the dosh and I’ll
be right over deluging you with my creative juices. But first I
have to find a supplier for formaldehyde. Maybe Damien has
some left over?
And finally a dedication to the successful gambler
who is King of the Tasmanian art world:
Baa baa black sheep
have you any poo?
Yes, sir; yes, sir,
I have a bag or two.
Two for the gardener,
who’ll mix it with leaf mould
and one for that mad alchemist
who’ll turn it to gold.