The Blackbird by William Morris

 

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 The Blackbird

Listen to the blackbird singing
To the red flush in the west!
Of all that sing the spring in
The blackbird singeth best

O! how the music swelleth!
As he flutters there hard by,
For joy of the tales he telleth,
For the song that shall never die.

The young lime where he singeth
Will remember all his song,
When on his trunk time bringeth
The mosses clinging long.

To the bees by the blossoms humming
The leaves will tell the tale
In the summer that is coming
As they flutter in the gale[.]

 His singing riseth higher
To the small clouds overhead,
It goeth on to the fire
By the small clouds that is fed.

Sunsets will keep his singing;
When the lime is on the ground.
In the ivy about it clinging
Will thoughts of the song be found.

William Morris
unpublished Draft in B. L. Add. MS 45,298A, ff. 34-34v, in what may be Morris’ hand; see 3.

 

 

A new broom

When I started this blog over six years it had a very particular purpose: a means of documenting a specific research project. When the project was completed my interest in the blog waned, my posts became sporadic and inevitably ceased. The blog was abandoned and alone, left to languish in cyberspace with only the occasional bit of tumbleweed for company.

The trouble was my blog became a place where I only really talked about art, mainly Pre-Raphaelite art. Now don’t get me wrong, I love, live and breathe the Pre-Raphaelite movement, but therein lies the problem. My PhD research is on the Pre-Raphaelites, so I’m constantly thinking and writing about them and often ‘the other stuff ‘I enjoy doing, thinking and writing about gets pushed to one side because it doesn’t fit the parameters I imposed on the blog.

I thought about starting a new blog for ‘the other stuff’ but soon realised that it was a silly idea, not least because there is a perfectly good blog sitting there. All that’s needed is a rethink, revamp and reboot.

As of today I’m reclaiming this space, taking a brush to the tumbleweed and building myself a cabin. Much of the content will still be fuelled by the titular terms of art and aesthetics; but in their broadest sense. The below painting by Pieter Claesz pretty much sums up the direction I want to take, i.e the embracing of all the senses and not limit myself to just the visual.

This gives me the freedom to explore my many passions, which, I will no doubt manage to somehow link to the Pre-Raphaelites, because let’s face it, that’s how I roll.

Dear Mr Lee, Shakespeare is a national disaster

Its Shakespeare’s birthday hurrah!

I love Shakespeare, however I’m feeling a bit mischievous and here offer the irreverent musings of the poet UA Fanthorpe. Although I don’t share the adolescent protagonist’s assertion that ‘Shakespeare… is a national disaster’, I am amused by it.

UA Fanthorpe had a distinguished career as a teacher, but chose to turn her back on it to become a receptionist and pursue her interest in writing poetry. I’m so glad she did. Her poetry is linguistically simple, but extremely witty.

More about UA Fanthorpe can be found here: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=157#

Dear Mr Lee

Dear Mr Lee (Mr Smart says
it’s rude to call you Laurie, but that’s
how I think of you, having lived with you
really all year), Dear Mr Lee
(Laurie) I just want you to know
I used to hate English, and Mr Smart
is roughly my least favourite person,
and as for Shakespeare (we’re doing him too)
I think he’s a national disaster, with all those jokes
that Mr Smart has to explain why they’re jokes,
and even then no one thinks they’re funny,
And T. Hughes and P. Larkin and that lot
in our anthology, not exactly a laugh a minute,
pretty gloomy really, so that’s why
I wanted to say Dear Laurie (sorry) your book’s
the one that made up for the others, if you
could see my copy you’d know it’s lived
with me, stained with Coke and Kitkat
and when I had a cold, and I often
take you to bed with me to cheer me up
so Dear Laurie, I want to say sorry,
I didn’t want to write a character-sketch
of your mother under headings, it seemed
wrong somehow when you’d made her so lovely,
and I didn’t much like those questions
about social welfare in the rural community
and the seasons as perceived by an adolescent,
I didn’t think you’d want your book
read that way, but bits of it I know by heart,
and I wish I had your uncles and your half-sisters
and lived in Slad, though Mr Smart says your view
of the class struggle is naive, and the examiners
won’t be impressed by me knowing so much by heart,
they’ll be looking for terse and cogent answers
to their questions, but I’m not much good at terse and cogent,
I’d just like to be like you, not mind about being poor,
see everything bright and strange, the way you do,
and I’ve got the next one out of the Public Library,
about Spain, and I asked Mum about learning
to play the fiddle, but Mr Smart says Spain isn’t
like that any more, it’s all Timeshare villas
and Torremolinos, and how old were you
when you became a poet? (Mr Smart says for anyone
with my punctuation to consider poetry as a career
is enough to make the angels weep).

PS Dear Laurie, please don’t feel guilty for
me failing the exam, it wasn’t your fault,
it was mine, and Shakespeare’s
and maybe Mr Smart’s, I still love Cider
it hasn’t made any difference.

Possession at a decadent pace

The world moves at such an incredible pace that it is easy to forget how joyful taking your time over something can be, whether its eating, walking or simply just being.

About a month ago I started reading possession by A.S Byatt and rather than read it voraciously over a couple of days I decided to take my time and luxuriate in its beautiful prose. Just the act of reading it slowly and carefully has left me feeling refreshed, inspired and creative. I have only read about two hundred pages so far, so I’m not even half way through yet and am very excited to see what happens next…

So far Possession has inspired me to revisit the beautiful fairy-like poetry of Mary Coleridge and to read’ Christabel’ by her great great Uncle Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Both these poets have a lovely enchanted and uncanny quality to their writing but since ‘The Deserted House ‘ by Mary Coleridge is a current favourite here it is:

The Deserted House

There’s no smoke in the chimney,
And the rain beats on the floor;
There’s no glass in the window,
There’s no wood in the door;
The heather grows behind the house,
And the sand lies before.

No hand hath trained the ivy,
The walls are grey and bare;
The boats upon the sea sail by,
Nor ever tarry there.
No beast of the field comes nigh,
Nor any bird of the air