måndag 15 augusti 2011

A rainy day

Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing;
What a little thing
To remember for years—
To remember with tears!
............................... William Allingham

I know that there are more than four ducks in this picture — but this poem came to my mind when I saw it.

"A West Country Pilgrimage" by Eden Phillpots, illustrated by A. T. Benthall, is the kind of book I can't resist. I'm not quite sure why — reading about places I'd like to see, is of course one reason, but it takes more than that to rouse my interest. Illustrations — I love all kind of illustrations. Bad ones, because they can be so wonderfully terrible. Old photos, because they tell you how it were, and makes you wonder what happened to people in the picture — and what it looks like today.
The illustrations in this book fire my imagination, makes me want to leave at once to see if I can find the places and if they look the same today as they did in 1920.

East of Exe River and south of those rolling heaths crowned by the encampment of Woodberry, there lies a green valley surrounded by forest and hill. Beyond it rise great bluffs that break in precipices upon the sea. They are dimmed to sky colour by a gentle wind from the east, for Eurus, however fierce his message, sweeps a fair garment about him. Out of the blue mists that hide distance the definition brightens and lesser hills range themselves, their knolls dark with pine, their bosoms rounded under forest of golden green oak and beech; while beneath them a mosaic of meadow and tilth spreads in pure sunshine. One field is brushed with crimson clover; another with dull red of sorrel through the green meadow grass; another shines daisy-clad and drops to the green of wheat. Some crofts glow with the good red earth of Devon, and no growing things sprout as yet upon them; but they hold seed of roots and their hidden wealth will soon answer the rain.

In the heart of the vale a brook twinkles and buttercups lie in pools of gold, where lambs are playing together.

Elms set bossy signets on the land and throng the hedgerows, their round tops full of sunshine; under them the hawthorns sparkle very white against the riot of the green. From the lifted spinneys and coverts, where bluebells fling their amethyst at the woodland edge, pheasants are croaking, and silver-bright against the blue aloft, wheel gulls, to link the lush valley with the invisible and not far distant sea. They cry and musically mew from their high place; and beneath them the cuckoo answers.

Don't you want to pack your knapsack and take off, to see it all for yourself, when you read things like this?

It's a perfect day to get lost among Gutenberg's books. It's raining, but it isn't cold (around 18°C, 64°F) so we're sitting on the tiny veranda — the darling sleeping on his cushion between us.

I think I was about eleven or twelve years old when I first read Angela Brazil's "The School by the Sea", in Swedish (Skolan vid havet). The book came out in 1914, which explains why the girls suspects one of the students to be a German spy. As a girl my mother bought most of her books second hand — books that I got as soon as I was old enough to read them. Sometimes I wonder how (if) this has affected me, growing up with the ideals of family girls around the turn of the century — and not the last turn of the century!
Anyway, I liked the book a lot — and because of the book I had to get out a map of England to find out where Cornwall was. I even found a lot of the places that are mentioned in the book. Of course I had to reread the book when I found it in English at Gutenberg.

And talking about schoolgirls, "Appropriate Clothes for the High School Girl" from 1917 is very interesting.

8 kommentarer:

  1. What a lovely enjoyable post and when you talk about growing up in different worlds I look at the end of my younger daughter's (she's 8) bed and See Angela Brazil's " Madcap of the school"
    It's been read at least twice so far I think!
    There is an inscription in faded ink inside the covers that is dated 1920.."were you alive then Mummy?" "No darling Granny was born in 1923 that book is older" It's one of her favourites at the moment.

    Among their favourites are some quite old books and I wonder too how the company of books influences who we are? I vividly remember the sensation of finding friends with common interests between the covers of books.

    btw Aren't cats a pleasure when they show us how to enjoy moments.

  2. Val,
    How nice to hear that your daughter is reading those old books!
    I do think what we read as children influences who we are - to a certain extent. I know that I didn't agree with everything I read, especially what i thought was patriotic rubbish - but I also remember that a lot of things forced me to think things over.
    If nothing else reading old books broaden your vocabulary.
    And yes, cats are a pleasure!

  3. I loved everything about this post! And i feel the same as you about illustrations. I hope you keep bloging here! <3

  4. Thank you Jodi,
    I'll try to post more often, my problem is not to come up with what to write about - rather to do it!
    busy picking
    black currants

  5. Really fascinating! I love old etiquette books from the late 1800s and early 1900s....Our social changes have been so fast I think, even in my lifetime (66 years). Dear Margaretha, I hope you will keep on blogging from time to time!

  6. Dear Margaretha
    I found this such an interesting post. My mother-in-law came from the Exe valley and many parts of it are unchanged from the days of her childhood. We are quite lucky that Devon and Cornwall are so cut off from the rest of England. The transport links are poor and that has protected the area from too much modern development.

    I love Angela Brazil's books and hope to get hold of some old copies to share with Millie as she gets older.

  7. Maureen,
    I almost envy you, that you can take a trip, book in hand (well, computer in hand) tosee if, and how much things have changed.

    Angela Brazil was quite modern - and some people obviously didn't like that. I need to take a break after every Brazil book, to read several in a row is a bit too much. But I do enjoy her every now and then. Are her books hard to find today? If so, Millie can always read them online - Gutenberg has quite a few of them - even if it isn't as nice as to curl up with a book.

  8. I thought that Angela Brazil's books were all out of print and was preparing to look around the second hand bookshops. However, I just saw some recent editions on Amazon, rather expensive but perhaps I will get a few for when Millie is a little older.