Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sideburns, 2014


Dear Reader,


                                                                    A 20th-century man with sideburns


                                                                              Thomas Hardy,  1840-1928                                  


                                                      Thomas Hardy's birthplace, Upper Bockhampton
                                                                                    Dorset



I thought you might like to read this extract from Thomas Hardy's journal written on December 7th, 1886:

"Winter.  The landscape has turned from a painting to an engraving:  the birds that love worms fall back upon berries:  the back parts of homesteads assume, in the general nakedness of the trees, a humiliating squalidness as to their details that has not been contemplated by their occupiers."

This also seems to be the case where I live, a small market town, where lots of things I would rather not see are completely obscured in the summer months by beautiful trees and plants, but not so now the leaves have fallen.

Incidentally, I see that Larry, the Downing Street cat, has been joined by two other cats, Ossie and Evie.  Larry has not turned out to be a proficient mouser, in fact he is useless, and would rather spend his time terrorizing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Phillip Hammond's,  two dogs who also live in No. 10 Downing Street.  The cats came from a rescue charity and on arrival had little publicity.  They were, a source said, "quietly getting on with their job".  So mice - Beware!


                                                                              *

Sideburns, 2014

Astonished, I see the sideburns,
the slicked up hair,
the ill-fitting suit,
large red hands
jolting it back on the shoulders
with awkward gesture,
at a young man's funeral
in the village church.
White lilies fill the air
with their sweet scent,
while soft music plays.
I see tears on every cheek,
sad young women, and men too
there to seek some comfort
from the vicar's words.

I blink and thought
I saw Thomas Hardy standing
in a nearby pew,
back in time from his day.
The ancient poet seemed to be
embodied in the blood and lives
of this congregation,
among whom nothing has changed over the years,
not the people, nor the service,
and death is still great sorrow.

But there is tea and beer
at the Bull Inn,
gossip and laughter
tears and memories, as
life's cycle keeps turning,
our beginnings and our endings
the only certainties.

                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this poem - and especially those last lines. And the characters you depict are so real and yet could have come from a time long ago. Hardy's time.
And I agree with both you and Thomas Hardy, the winter landscape is sad. xx