Thursday, December 6, 2007

Life is Full of Surprises

Life is full of surprises, some good, some bad, but invariably their occurrence provokes a ripple far larger than the original impact. This week I was surprised by William Blake, a name I had previously consigned to the poets read at school category - which ranks only marginally higher than poems written by boyfriends during puberty - and subsequently forgotten about. Yes, the Tiger, Tiger stimulated a few cerebral whiskers, but never enough to change an innate impatience with poetry, so my conversion to born-again Blake Worshipper is indeed, a great surprise.

And the ripples?

The discovery that Blake's poetry was only half, perhaps not even that much, of the entire man.
Jerusalem, the nationalistic schmaltz anthem that, previously, I could not hear without rising bile, was in fact a fierce criticism of Victorian society, its stifling of ideas and its materialism. So far from being a eulogy, it is a lament, something I can understand a great deal better. Blake rejected all forms of imposed authority; indeed, he was charged with assault and uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the King in 1803. The charges were brought by a soldier called John Schofield after Blake had bodily removed him from his garden, allegedly exclaiming, "Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves." According to a report in the Sussex county paper.

To add to all this, he was a musician, artist (see example in photos) and best of all he preferred to live inside his head, rather than with everyone else in the rest of the world. I do not behold the outward creation... it is a hindrance and not action."

His relationship with his wife, Catherine, was unique for the time. For a start, they were truly in love. He taught her to read and one day a friend walked into their garden and found them both sitting naked while reading Paradise Lost to each other. Can you imagine anything more romantic, aesthetic and impossible in Victorian Society?

I could fill pages on this one theme, but it would only be more on the same and tedious for the unconverted, so I will close and leave you to guess what is on my Christmas list for this year.
Christmas .. now really close. We have sent out cards out promptly, thanks to Lucy who wrote them all because my handwriting is so illegible, particularly when it is involves boring repetition - Love from … have a good one … hope everything works out in 2008 … I am trying to be upbeat about it, but Christmas with a family of three and one of them a teenager is not a great prospect. A theme that could lead me onto wishing we had a wider of circles of friends, wishing I had done this and not that so that I wouldn’t be doing this and not that now, but I won't.
More upbeat, this is the second week of wearing multi focal contact lenses and I can see! The first few days were tough, with long sight being fine while anything close resembled jelly in a fog, but both ends of the frame improve by the day and we have decided that Paul should have a go too, which has to be a good move. Ten new pairs of glasses every 6 months is a big addition to our tight housekeeping budget.
And so to rainbows, without even an attempt at linking subjects. Gorron, our local town, was engulfed in rainbow colours just a few days ago, with the church picked out in indigo, a truly stunning spectacle that should have been recorded for posterity, but of course I did not have a camera. In fact it was so stunning that I drove all the way home to get one. Needless to say, it had gone by the time I got back. Still, not wanting to let the magic moment go, I have come up with the, probably ludicrous, idea of collecting rainbow photos and putting them on a website. In fact I have gone so far as to float the idea on the GoSmelltheFlowers website, so depending on the response, I may have given myself yet more to do.
Meanwhile, the rain hammers on, the horses continue to look miserable and I have got a cold to beat all colds. Paul is coping with my misery, but I sense a trip to anywhere but here is on his mind, which reminds me … we have said that we have accepted Vlad and family's invitation to stay with them in Russia next year - something to really look forward to.
The guide book is growing and we have reached Langre, a milestone in Paul's mind, though not mine because I haven't a clue where it is in relation to all the other places we are writing about. How about this for a closing quote?

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. Albert Camus

1 comment:

Heiko said...

Hi Babette,

I like your blog. Had a similar aha experience recently with Shelley, Percy Byshe that is. Living around here you keep being reminded of him and Byron constantly. The Gulf of La Spezia is also known as the Gulf of Poets, because these two spent some time around there. Every other hotel around the Gulf is either called Shelley or Byron. Si I decided to read them both, because frankly I did not know much about either of them. Apart from being revolutionaries Shelley was also an outspoken atheist, quite ahead of his time.