Monday, 31 October 2011
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Unfortunately I did not look like this delightful lady when I woke one morning this week! It was a very dark and rainy October morning here in Cornwall,not romantic just miserable! Summer has really gone , What can you do on a day like this but read poetry! Well any excuse!
I reached down Laurie Lee's Selected Poems, a book I love but have not dipped into for a while and realized I should not have neglected it.
Day Of These Days
Such a morning it is when love
leans through geranium windows
and calls with a cockerels tongue.
When red haired girls scamper like roses
over rain green grass,
and the sun drips honey.
When hedgerows grow venerable,
berries dry black as blood,
and holes suck in their bees.
Such a moring it is when mice
run whispering from the church,
dragging dropped ears of harvest.
When the partridge draws back his spring
and shoots like a buzzing arrow
over grained and mahogany fields.
When no table is bare
and no breast dry,
and the tramp feeds off ribs of rabbit.
Such a day it is when time
piles up the hills like pumpkins,
and the streams run golden.
When all men smell good,
and the cheeks of girls
are as baked bread to the mouth.
As bread and beanflowers
the touch of their lips,
and their white teeth sweeter than cucumbers.
Laurie as a young man.Women seem to have adored him!
Laurie Lee was born in Stroud but spent his early life in Slad a small Gloucstershire village. His most famous book "Cider With Rosie" lyrically tells the the tale of his boyhood. This is the cottage he grew up in with his family. In the story Laurie paints a tender portrait of his upbringing in comparetive poverty but rich in love and experience.
His mother would fill the house with jars of wild flowers in spring and summer,there was music and laughter as well as hardship.
He went to London at nineteen ,walking all the way and secured a job on a building site.He made extra money playing his fiddle and when he had enough put away set off for Spain. He fell in love with the country and worked his way across to Andalusia busking. When the Civil War broke out he was forced to leave but returned via the Pyrenees to fight against Franco.
Above all I think Laurie Lee was a great lover of life,someone who had a generous capacity for lyrical precision and sensousness.You can almost touch and smell his writing!This picture shows him in later life having a pint in his native Slad at the local pub.
Slad Church where Laurie Lee is buried.
He was a fascinating man and this biography by Valerie Grove gives an insight into to his complicated character.
His poem turned my dull morning around !
Friday, 7 October 2011
His early life was spent somewhere in Guinea which was was a loose name for the interior of West Africa. He was taken from there as a slave to Brazil but then appears to have been taken to Lisbon in Portugal where we first see him. Sometime in his life he was introduced to music and his master in Lisbon sent him to a teacher. It was not long before he was playing second violin in the city's operatic orchestra.
Fate had something else in store for this young slave.
In his book Philip Mardsen tells us that he was heard at a concert by the captain of a British ship holed up in Portugal for repairs.Sir Edward Pellew was captain of the frigate Indefatigable at the time and he stole Joseph carrying him off on the man of war. He was a prisoner on the ship for about four years where he played the fiddle for Pellew and his crew! He must have seen action during that time however when Pellew was posted to another ship Emidy found himself free again on the coast of Cornwall at Falmouth. Falmouth was a thriving cosmopolitan port in those days and Joseph was accepted ,he married a local girl the daughter of a tradesman and began to make a name for himself with his amazing musical talents.
The family moved to Truro and his fame grew. Attempts were made to introduce him to the London Music world but were not altogether successful although his own work and his rendition of the greats of the time won him praise in high places. It was thought as a black man he would not have been totally accepted in the big city! It was said that if he had been lucky enough to have the same advantages he could have been a Beethoven or a Mendelssohn .As it was this amazing black musician lived out his 60 years in Cornwall with his family. Joseph's compositions seem to have died with him which must be a great loss to music.
I personally hope he had a happy life playing music down here in the far West so far from his African homeland.
His grave is well kept and we added a bunch of rosemary from our garden.
It was a beautiful day and the walk to the churchyard was a circular one along the lanes.
Romantic remains of old farm machinery ,there was a wren darting about on the overgrown wagon.