Reference to Emerson and T S Eliot
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
The lengthened shadow of a man is History, said Emerson,
Who had not seen the silhouette
of Sweeney straddled in the sun…
The rest of my version of T S Eliot’s poem:
I have spoken of trivial things,
in ignorance, negligence and through my own deliberate fault.
You have restored through my bright cloud of tears
the years the locusts have wasted
and given me a new verse to an ancient rhyme,
enabling me to redeem my dream; redeem the time.
No lost word is lost; no spent word is spent.
Your word is heard- the Word within
the world and for the world.
Your light shone in the darkness.
What has He done for me?
I do hope to turn again;
I do hope;
I hope to turn.
I no longer waver between profit and loss,
in this brief transit in which all dreams lead to the cross:
the dream-crossed twilight between birth and dying.
I am flying with unbroken wings -seaward,
towards a granite shore.
I hear the cry of quail and whirling plover
and glimpse shining forms between the ivory gates.
This is the time of tension between dying and birth.
Suffer us to have a sense of irony.
Teach us to care and not to care,
nor take ourselves too seriously.
Teach us to be still;
our peace is in His will.
And I pray the spirit of the sea
shall never let me know severance,
but will let my cry come unto Thee.
(Bear with… it is closely based on Eliot’s poem and so
goes on a bit!)
(T S Eliot, 1934
Image by Lady Ottoline Morrell;
cropped by Octave.H)
Because I do hope to turn again…
because I do hope;
because I do hope to turn,
desiring my own gift and my own scope.
I do strive to strive towards such things.
( Why shouldn’t I mount up with eagles’ wings?
Why shouldn’t I celebrate
my replenished power and the banishment of pain?)
Because I do hope to feel again
the glory of the positive hour;
because I do think;
because I am known and I shall know
the sole veritable eternal power.
Because I can drink
there, where trees flower and springs flow,
for there is something again.
Because I know that time is always time,
but place is never only place
and what is actual is actual for eternity
and not just for the here and now.
I rejoice that things will be as they will be
and I cherish the blessed face;
internalise the voice.
Because I hope to turn again-
consequently I rejoice, not having to construct something
upon which to rejoice. I have been given choice.
I pray to God to have mercy on me
and know that He will forget
those matters that with myself I too much discuss-
too much justify and explain…
because I do hope to turn again,
let these words answer
for what was done and for those things
from which I should have refrained.
Judgement need not lie heavy upon us.
Because these wings still have a capacity to fly
and will buoy me up in the air-
the air which is fresh and pure, though dry,
expansive and inspirational.
Teach me to care and not to care.
Teach me to sit still,
confident that an advocate prays for me
now and will do at the hour of death.
After the leopards fed to satiety on my heart,
my innards and the contents of my mind,
my skeletal remains shone with brightness;
your oblivion transformed what had been rejected
into something substantial and resurrected.
Now my bones live; I do not prophesy to the wind,
but am transported to a garden where torment has vanished
and I am glad to have my bones scattered under a tree
in the cool of the day, where neither unity nor division matter
and I am to have my inheritance and will not be banished.
I no longer fear the devil on the stair-
the one whose face shows hope and dark despair.
I have climbed beyond the second stair
and caught the scent of hawthorn there.
I heard the antique flute’s distracting notes
but found the shibboleth I needed in my throat.
Lord, You made me worthy.
The final stanzas tomorrow. This is a long haul poem
and I am trying to follow, but counter Eliot!
Feria Quarta Cinerum
(Image- Jennifer Balaska 2/2/12; author Oxh973)
I won’t go into all the Lenten references to words spoken over
Adam and Eve, referring to the dust to which they shall return.
I won’t go into Cranmer’s dismissal of the procedure as
‘superstitious’ nor its ecumenical resurrection in the 1970s.
What I did- prior to preparing to sing Palestrina’s Reproaches– was
re-read and listen to T S Eliot’s acclaimed poem. I found his voice
lugubrious and the tone exhausted. Still, he seemed to have squeezed
through the eye of the needle, in spite of his cultural baggage.
Thanks be to God!
Here’s my version. I tried to be more positive! And if you don’t think
I succeed, then I abhor myself in the proverbial dust and cinders and
promise to roll around in a bit of sackcloth. But fasting? Well, that’s
See following post…..
Angouleme, carpet bag, Cinderellas of the Forces, Circuit des remparts, Concours d'elegance, Delahaye, Freedom of Information Act, General Registrar, Her Majesty's Passport Office, Istanbul, Land Girls, National Trust, Ouspensky, perjury, Pierre Loti, release certificates, Rumi, Russell Square, Simon Bolivar, Snodland, Sufi, T S Eliot, theosophical, Women's Land Army
Sonia said, Yes, I’ve heard of Ouspensky. He was theosophical, was he
I died a mineral and became a plant
I died as plant and rose to animal
I died as animal and I was Man..
-sort of Sufi-inspired Rumi concepts..
Something like that, said Dru. She had dropped in at Royalist House
to see her mother and to discuss the latest proceedings.
I had a look at some newspaper cuttings which were in the envelope that
Bunbury, Quatrefoil and Quincunx, Solicitors gave us. There were some
leaflets for a series of lectures that Ouspensky gave at Lady Rothermere’s.
I think that Augusta- she of the Bosphorus- attended when she came over
to London to arrange the birth of her first child. It was all the rage to go
and hear him at the time. I think T S Eliot and other literary figures went
along. Augusta had heard him first of all in Istanbul.
So, Diana tried to keep on track, she gave birth in London to Augusta 2?
Yes, said Dru. She had taken a room in Russell Square, near to
Ouspensky’s lodgings. Lord Wyvern arranged it. I think it was in his
town house. Some of her letters were on his notepaper.
Lord Wyvern? How did he come into it? asked Diana.
Well, she had had a fling with him a good few years before, but they had
parted amicably, before he married Aurelia Tindall. Augusta’s baby wasn’t
his; it was definitely the rug seller’s; his name was on the birth certificate.
She popped Augusta 2 into a carpet bag and bounced back to the Bosphorous
to live the female equivalent of a Pierre Loti dream.
How had they- I mean Lord Wyvern and Augusta1- come across each
I think Aurelia’s mother and Augusta worked on the land during
World War 1. Lord Wyvern’s first wife and Aurelia’s mother had been
friends at a London Finishing School. The Land Girls used to hang about
The Red Lion Pub, spending some of their 18/- a week. Because Augusta
1 used to nostalgically talk to her daughters about the rural idyll that was
Kent, they developed a fascination for it and, after Augusta 2 left St Vitus’,
having been Head Girl, she went to join the WLA, as one of the Cinderellas
of the Forces and headed for the hop-picking. She didn’t want to live in
WLA? queried Diana.
Women’s Land Army, Sonia butted in.
She wrote to Berenice and told her what larks she was having and
Berenice got herself expelled and, once she was seventeen and a half,
she signed up too. Wearing breeches appealed to her. She had an
affair with Anthony for a couple of years. Of course, her mother hadn’t
given her any moral compass.
So, that’s why he recognised the family resemblance in Augusta 2 in
Snodland Nursing Home?
Yes, I suppose so. The sisters were alike.
When did he take up with Aurelia? Sonia was a stickler for detail.
Oh, not till about 1948 or 1949-after he rescued Peregrine.
And Gus was born in 1950, added Diana. She had always
remembered his birthday, if only to supply him with socks.
Correct. Aurelia paid Berenice to pretend that the baby was hers,
but Berenice took Father to Istanbul. Her mother wasn’t interested
in him and so Augusta 2 eventually arranged his enrolment into St
Birinus’ pre-prep department, Dru explained.
And Berenice took the money and ran off? Sonia frowned.
..to Venezuela, to follow romantic dreams about Simon Bolivar, taking
after her vagabond mother, Dru clarified. The sisters had received
their release certificates from the WLA in 1950.
But Berenice was born in Istanbul? Diana probed.
In 1923. Lord Wyvern married Aurelia in 1934 when he was
How old was she? Sonia asked.
About eighteen, Dru looked disapproving. Some of her girls in the
boarding house were of a similar age.
And when did he die? Sonia was analysing every detail.
Well, the boys were born in 1935 and 1936..
Lionel and Peregrine? Diana checked.
Yes, in quick succession! But Lord Wyvern died on his way to the
Circuit des Remparts, in Angouleme, in 1939.
Angouleme? Sonia couldn’t quite place this French city.
‘Monaco without sea’, as it was known. In the Charente.
He was travelling in a Concours d’Elegance and he got a flat
tyre. He jacked up his Delahaye, but it collapsed on top of
him and crushed his chest.
So Lady Wyvern had been a widow for six years when Anthony
arrived to tutor the boys? Sonia was on the ball.
She was thirty-six when Father was born. By 1955 she was dead and
the house and estate given over to The National Trust. Except for
grandfather being allowed to remain in the stable block apartment
until his decease, by special arrangement. Lionel had gambled away
most of his inheritance.
What I can’t understand is why Berenice, or the others, were not
prosecuted for perjury on the registration document? said Diana.
Mum, there may be a warning about criminal offences and falsification
on the certificate itself, but no one has been prosecuted for the last
thirty-five years for faking parentage. Under The Freedom Of
Information Act, I checked all this from her Majesty’s Passport
So, there isn’t much incentive to tell the truth? remarked Sonia.
‘The Registrar General does not routinely investigate the
circumstances in which erroneous information came to be given
at registration’ were the exact words, as I recall, said Dru. And,
anyway, there is a time limit of three years to report suspicions
to the police. You would need DNA from all involved and Anthony
and Aurelia are dead, as is Berenice.
So, the records are not likely to be changed? Diana said.
You’ve got it! replied Dru.
Birdsong, Bradford, Delius, Desert Island Discs, First Cuckoo, garden warblers, Gaugin's Nevermore, Grainger, Grez-sur-Loing, Grieg, Jelka Delius, Lark Ascending, laughing thrushes, Messiaen, orchard orioles, Philip Hobsbaum, Quartet for the End of Time, Richard Hickox, River Test, Skylarks, Solano, Stalad VIII-A, T S Eliot, Vaughan Williams, Yorkshire Post
Birdsong, Brassica said, It’s so lovely to hear the wildlife out and about,
making their nests. I could have sworn that I heard a cuckoo when I was
out walking Andy with Castor and Pollux at the weekend.
(The dog has the more sensible name. Mythology only affected her
twins. Badly, some might say, as their nicknames at school are Bastard
People were always competitive to report the first time a cuckoo was heard in
a given year, I remarked. I saw a posting on YouTube which demonstrated a
very early instance on the first of March this year.
Isn’t there a piece of music about skylarks which was voted the most
popular choice for the nation’s Desert Island Discs? mused Brassie,
nibbling a watercress scone.
Yes, The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams, I informed her. But I
once sang a lot of Delius under the baton of Richard Hickox and it stirred
my interest in the latter composer. Of course, he was not the only
musician interested in birdsong. Messiaen was the one who most obviously
springs to mind, with his precise references to garden warblers, orchard
orioles and laughing thrushes.
Wasn’t he the one who was able to have his work performed in Stalag
VIII-A camp, near Dresden? Brassie asked.
Yes, under the auspices of a sympathetic guard. But we were talking of
Delius, I reminded her. I was so surprised to learn that he had been born
A lot of people are, Brassie munched on.
She is incredibly fatuous at times!
Anyway, when I heard a cuckoo the other day, it reminded me that I
written a poem about one, said Brassie laughing and showing that she
is fairly perceptive after all. E-mail it to me later tonight if you want.
I haven’t read one of your poetic compositions for a while.
Okay, I promised. I had the idea when I was walking by The River Test
one day a few years ago. Just to let you know: his wife was called Jelka.
My Lit Theory teacher, the great Philip Hobsbaum, would have challenged
that the poem should be clear in its meaning without notes, Brassie
Well, that writes off T S Eliot then, I countered. So, I will just have to be of
the devil’s party!
On Hearing My First Cuckoo in Spring
Two notes transported me to Picardy,
for this birdcall, with its insistency
was a clarinet conceptualised
by a syphilitic man, who, near-blind,
was propped in his wheelchair in Grez-sur-Loing.
His Gaugin Nevermore had then been sold;
Grieg’s Scandinavian scenery mere
pointilliste impressions. Now sound was all-
the lapping of the river at the end
of his garden; his giggle at the church
when he broke out at his confirmation;
the rhythms of his poet friend, Verlaine;
those Negro spirituals he’d overheard
through the cigarillo smoke in Solano,
when the grove could have been a kind of grave;
Grainger’s laugh; Heseltine’s accusation;
Fenby’s chords; a populous city’s noise;
the barking of the dachshund he once gave
to a favourite sister those years ago;
the rustle of his father’s Yorkshire Post:
(I see that Fritz has given a concert);
the sound of spiteful stones smashing shutters
and soldiers’ boots searching out their wine hoard.
In the New Year they made his cuckoo sing,
but by Autumn it sang over his plot,
laurel-lined in Lingfield. Jelka heard it,
tumour-riddled, from the nursing home.
That day they sent her a boxed-set greeting
on a gramophone recording, but found
she’d already heard it; flown to meet him.
Now as I walk along this river bank,
the trite threnody does not interrupt
the inexorable ongoing flow
of Life itself. This is what makes us rapt:
what Delius sensed, and helped us to know-
that two notes must not usurp the whole scale.