Sunday, 23 February 2020

Gentleman of the Road








Dear Reader,

I had a very old friend to lunch this week which was a delight.  We caught up on family news and laughed a great deal.  She always looked pretty and still does and I hope to see much more of her as my own years are diminishing; I am going to be eighty in March.  I can't really believe it.  I try to look back on my life but find it difficult.  I would rather look forward to tomorrow and enjoy today as best I can.  Francis and I exercise every day (not for long!) and walk in the fields behind the house, we try to eat fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish but sometimes treat ourselves to something special.

I have put images of willow trees on the blog this week and if you read the poem you will know why.
This poem is a true story and took place when I was working as a volunteer at the Porch, a cafe for the homeless in Oxford.

*

February 24th, 1798, Dorothy Wordsworth, Somerset

'......The sea, like a basin full to the margin; the dark fresh-ploughed field; the turnips a lively rough green.'

February 24th, 1916, D.H. Lawrence, Cornwall

'Just at present it is very cold.   It has been blowing here also, and a bit of snow.  Till now the weather has been so mild.  Primroses and violets are out, and the gorse is lovely.  At Zennor one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock-mingled colours, and the gorse is sunshine itself, already.  But this cold wind is deadly.'


*

Gentleman of the Road

The old man shuffled into the cafe
head bent, shoulders hunched
with a weather-beaten face
and straggly beard
he looked sad and lonely.

In a deep voice he said
he would like a sandwich.
I made him one, and
sat down beside him.

"I am a gentleman of the road,' he told me,
'been on it for fifty years or more.
I have walked the byways of England,
watched the sun come up
watched the sun go down.'

He told me his life story.
Often being cold and hungry,
frightened when sleeping
on a city street,

how he felt old and
out of sync with the times
how he hoped to die
in the countryside, under a willow tree.

When he left I hugged him
and tears came into his eyes,
'I haven't been touched by another
human being for over thirty years,' he said.

And tears came into my eyes

*

With very best wishes, Patricia

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