For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Yorkshire And Kent: The North/South Divide?

Some more quotations from my mother's commonplace book. The 1st is a poem by Vita Sackville-West: Bloomsbury-ite, bisexual, wife of Harold Nicolson, and lover of Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf.

Full Moon

She was wearing the coral taffeta trousers
Someone had brought her from Ispahan,
And the little gold coat with pomegranate blossoms,
And the coral-hafted feather fan;
But she ran down a Kentish lane in the moonlight,
And skipped in the pool of the moon as she ran.


She cared not a rap for all the big planets,
For Betelgeuse or Aldebaran,
And all the big planets cared nothing for her,
That small, impertinent charlatan;
But she climbed on a Kentish stile in the moonlight,
And laughed at the sky through the sticks of her fan.

I think this is a perfect gem of a conceit of a poem: the devil-may-care lightness of touch, the well judged repetitions, the exoticism (bringing the East and the romance of Space to the humble Garden of Kent, where Sackville-West lived in the not-so-humble Sissinghurst Castle), the sheer delicious exuberance.

And now for something completely different, as the saying goes, and one specially for The Weaver Of Grass...

Creation - Nobbut God

'First on, there was nobbut God...' Genesis 1.1 (Yorkshire Dialect Translation).

First on
There was silence.
And God said:
'Let there be clatter'.

The wind, unclenching,
Runs its thumbs
Along the dry bristles of Yorkshire Fog.

The mountain ousel
Oboes its one note.

After rain
Water lobelia
Drips like a tap
On the tarn's tight surface-tension.

But louder,
And every second nearer,
Like chain explosions
From farther nebulae
Light-yearing across space:
The thudding of my own blood.

'It's nobbut me,'
Says God.

From Seasons Of The Spirit by Norman Nicholson.

5 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Absolutely wonderful, Robert. Thank you for that!

Bella said...

Bohemian splendour - what a delightful poem.

Has me wanting a pair of coral taffeta trousers, gold coat and fan!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I like the 'delicious exuberance'!

Dominic Rivron said...

Wonderful poems - I find myself reading and rereading them. The first reminded me of one by Robert Graves about constellations - it's annoying me that I can't think what it's called or how it goes!

The Solitary Walker said...

What..? Bella! I thought you wore these all the time...

Thanks for all your comments.