Sunday, 24 June 2018

Not One of Us


                                                                                       Greensleeves



Dear Reader,

I thought you might enjoy this piece from Francis Kilvert's diary on Friday, 12th June,1874.

' Bathing yesterday and to-day.  Yesterday sea was very calm, but the wind has changed to the East and this morning a rough and troublesome sea came tumbling into the bay and plunging in foam upon the shore. The bay was full of white horses.  At Shanklin one has to adopt the detestable custom of bathing in drawers.  If ladies don't like to see men naked why don't they keep away from the sight? To-day I had a pair of drawers given to me which I could not keep on.  The rough waves stripped them off and tore them down round my ankles.  While thus fettered I was seized and flung down by a heavy sea which retreating suddenly left me lying naked on the sharp shingle from which I rose streaming with blood.   After this I took the wretched and dangerous rag off and, of course, there were some ladies looking on as I came up out of the water.'

                                                                                 *

There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future consort Anne Boleyn.  Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry's attempts to seduce her and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer's love "cast me off discourteously". However the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry's death making it more likely to be Elizabethan in origin.

So what does the song mean?  One possible interpretation of the lyrics is that Lady Green Sleeves was a promiscuous young woman, perhaps a prostitute.  At the time the word 'green' has sexual connotations, most notably in the phrase ' a green gown' being a reference to the grass stains on a woman's dress from engaging in sexual intercourse outdoors.
                                                                                    *
It has to be said that things have changed dramatically in England in the last few hundred years.   For the better, I wonder?
                                                                                    *



Not one of us

A small figure at school in
a hot, strange land.  The
children left her alone,
she didn't speak their language
or know their games or rules.
She was not one of them.

Winter now and an English
boarding school, where the rules
were known, but not to her.
She was clumsy, wore spectacles,
couldn't tie her tie, dropped the netball.
Couldn't master dance steps gracefully
to the music of "Greensleeves',
was not an asset, wouldn't do.
She was not one of them.

She simply asked,
why do the safely-grounded
hear the beat of a terrified heart
and seek to silence it?  Is the beat
too loud, something not understood,
something to frighten?
Are things better when the group
destroys the alien in its midst?

She never knew,
she was not one of them.

                                                                            *

Very best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your poem this week could be read as a metaphor for the time we are living in and the intolerance we see around us every day.
Oh for those much simpler Kilvert Times. Nowadays he would be had-up for indecency.
Peace and love. M x