…and maketh me to lie down in green pastures
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
[Addressed to Charles Lamb, of the India House, London]
Photo credit: David Ross ; Britain Express.
Colerige’s friends- Charles Lamb and the Wordsworths- had gone off walking,
leaving him alone at his cottage,as he had had an accident and could not ramble
with them. (His wife had spilled scalding milk on his foot, probably distracted by
having all these literary guests inflicted on her when she was trying to look after
He imagines that he is with them and can ‘see’ the terrain they are walking
He is able to travel in his imagination, but also can appreciate Nature at
How true is this for those of us sequestered and quarantined at home. That is,
for those of us fortunate enough to have gardens.
John Donne’s monument in St Paul’s Cathedral ( in his shroud)
William Dunbar 15th century Scottish poet.
Photo by Stephen C Dickson (Wikimedia)
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
To God be humble,
to thy friend be kind
and with thy neighbour, gladly lend and borrow;
his chance tonight,
it may be thine tomorrow.
Primitive I ate my fill of a whale that died And stranded after a month at sea. . . . There is a pain in my inside. Why have the Gods afflicted me? Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith! Wow! I am sick till I cannot see! What is the sense of Religion and Faith : Look how the Gods have afflicted me! Pagan How can the skin of rat or mouse hold Anything more than a harmless flea?. . . The burning plague has taken my household. Why have my Gods afflicted me? All my kith and kin are deceased, Though they were as good as good could be, I will out and batter the family priest, Because my Gods have afflicted me!
Medi/Eval My privy and well drain into each other After the custom of Christendie. . . . Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother. Why has the Lord afflicted me? The Saints are helpless for all I offer-- So are the clergy I used to fee. Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer, Because the Lord has afflicted me. Material I run eight hundred hens to the acre They die by dozens mysteriously. . . . I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker, Why has the Lord afflicted me? What a return for all my endeavour-- Not to mention the L. S. D! I am an atheist now and for ever, Because this God has afflicted me!
Progressive Money spent on an Army or Fleet Is homicidal lunacy. . . . My son has been killed in the Mons retreat, Why is the Lord afflicting me? Why are murder, pillage and arson And rape allowed by the Deity? I will write to the Times, deriding our parson Because my God has afflicted me. Chorus We had a kettle: we let it leak: Our not repairing it made it worse. We haven't had any tea for a week. . . The bottom is out of the Universe!
Conclusion This was none of the good Lord's pleasure, For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free; But what comes after is measure for measure, And not a God that afflicteth thee. As was the sowing so the reaping Is now and evermore shall be. Thou art delivered to thine own keeping. Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!
Photo : Kim Traynor, 2011. Wikipedia.
Now to redeme that thow hes maid of nocht,
That is of vertew barrane and denude;
Haif rewth, Lord, of thyne awin symilitude;
Puneiss with pety and nocht with violens.
We knaw it is for our Ingratitude
That we ar puneist with this pestilens.
Thow grant us grace for till amend our miss,
And till evaid this crewall suddane deid;
We knaw our syn is all the cause of thiss,
for oppin syn thair is set no remeid.
The Justice of god mon puneiss than bot dreid,
for by the law he will with non dispens:
quhair Justice laikis thair is Eternall feid,
of god that sowld preserf fra pestilens.
Bot wald the heiddismen that sowld keip the law
Pueneiss the peple for thair transgressioun,
Thair wald na deid the peple than owrthraw:
bot thay ar gevin so planely till oppressioun,
That god will not heir thair intercessioun;
bot all ar puneist for thair Innobediens
be sword or deid withowttin remissioun,
And hes Just cause to send us pestilens.
Superne/ Lucerne/ guberne/ this pestilens,
preserve/ and serve/ that we not sterve thairin.
Declyne/ that pyne/ be thy Devyne prudens.
O trewth/ haif rewth/ lat not our slewth us twin.
Our syt/ full tyt/ wer we contryt/ wald blin.
Dissiver/ did never/ quha evir the besocht.
Send grace/ with space/ and us Imbrace/ fra syn.
Latt nocht be tynt that thow so deir hes bocht.
O prince preclair/ this cair/ cotidiane,
We the exhort/ distort/ it in exyle.
Bot thow remeid/ this deid/ is bot ane trane,
for to dissaif/ the laif/ and thame begyle.
Bot thow sa wyiss/ devyiss to mend this byle
Of this mischief/ quha ma releif/ us ocht
for wrangus win/ bot thow our syn ourfyll?
Latt not be tynt etc.
Sen for our Vyce/ that Justyce/ mon correct,
O king most hie/ now pacifie/ thy feid:
Our syn is huge/ Refuge/ we not suspect;
As thow art Juge/ deluge us of this dreid.
In tyme assent/ or We be schent with deid;
We us repent/ and tyme mispent forthocht:
Photo of kanji by Jmettlen on Wikimedia Commons
Even our friends’ graves
will one day be ploughed over.
through time and we smile once more.
headstones will be eroded.
The deceased’s peers die;
his name is then forgotten.
The pines which are deemed to live
for a thousand years
are, in actual fact, chopped down –
or just pragmatically,
according to how life’s viewed.