Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Panelled Room

Dear Reader,
                                                                           17th-Century Bedroom


                                                                         14th-Century Peasants' Bedroom

                                                            Dutch Mattress 18th Century

From time to time I have stayed in hotels and found the bed uncomfortable, and the mattress lumpy and not conducive to a good night's sleep.  And I have done a bit of grumbling about this to my husband in the morning.  But if we had lived in years gone by, we really would have had plenty to grumble about.  Mattresses in the 19th century were havens not only for bedbugs, fleas and moths (which loved old feathers when they could get at them) but for mice and rats as well.  Apparently, the story goes, an American woman reported in 1867 how she and her sister took armloads of shoes to bed each night to throw at the rats that ran across their bedroom floor.  Historically, the most common filling for a mattress was straw, whose pricks through the ticking was a torment, but people used whatever they could find.  I thought it was very interesting to learn that as late as the 19th century people staying in inns were obliged to share their beds with complete strangers.  Can you imagine some of the problems that might create today?  Political Correctness police would, of course,  have lots of warnings and advice on this matter.

                                                                        *

The Panelled Room

He asked me to tea
in his college room.
Two china cups
a small white teapot
and a bowl of sugar
on a Russian tray,
perched on his desk.

Outside the window
small flakes of snow
fell silently
into the dusky twilight.

There was a cupboard
in the study with a wooden door.
"It leads to a panelled room
where a man with a flute
who sings sweetly, lives"
he said.

Holding hands we slipped
through the door.
The room was lit
by a hundred candles, and
while the flautist played softly
we danced under
holly berries and green garlands
threaded with red ribbons,
holding each other tight.

"This room is my secret," he said
"tell no-one you have seen it.
It houses my heart
to be shared one day
with the lady I love."

Later, in the panelled room
I saw from the window
a hundred stars,
and a crescent moon.

While he poured out the tea.

                                                                    *

With best wishes, Patricia

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very magical, I can see why you two get along! Jess x

Anonymous said...

What a magic poem. And real or not, what a magic moment it depicts. Personally I think it's true! Xx