Wednesday 18 November 2009

The Wisdom of Hawker's Pot #3

We are all made of stars, but some of us are looking in the gutter.

Crashaw's Diary (part vii)

Thursday 17th November

A Mr Hardacre visiting. Mr Hardacre is very taken with the latest scientific ideas of Darwin and Wallace, and expatiated on them to us over tea. However, as time went on we found it hard to shift him from his single subject. Whatever we talked about, were it cabbages, horses, even members of our congregation, he returned always to his burden that everything exists solely to breed copies of itself. Even the beautiful canna lily that Margaret brought in became a text for him, and he informed us that its sole purpose was to produce more lilies, and that this was how evolution moved on. “Oh, fie,” cried Mr Jenkins, “you would not leave a single thing in the world beautiful for its own sake!” I rather agreed with him.

After tea, I accompanied the Miss Milligans home. It was already twilight, the road was shadowy and the first stars were out. Suddenly we heard the clear call of an owl from a dark clump of trees across the road. “That owl,” I said, “has only one thing on its mind. It called simply to attract a mate.” “For shame, Mr Crashaw,” said the older Miss Milligan, “you have quite gone over to Mr Hardacre’s side.” However, I insisted: “That is the sole reason it called out. To wit, to woo.”

I swung my stick in the gloom and felt the day had turned out rather well, after all. Without another word, the Miss Milligans trudged on through the twilight.

Thursday 5 November 2009

The Wisdom of Hawker's Pot #2

The Police Force are sometimes accused of over-reacting, but never the Fire Brigade.

Crashaw's Diary (part vi)

Tuesday, 1st November
On my way to C--- today I glanced in at the graveyard, and who should I see but Frank, apparently unconscious on a seat. All around him were hung the vivid hues of autumn, and the graveyard presented a most affecting scene, with the fallen leaves piled up thickly against the mouldering gravestones of the many generations who had found their final rest. The sun was bright and the air like glass, and as I approached Frank I was struck by how pale he looked. Hearing me draw near, he opened his eyes. “Three nights!” he exclaimed. “For three nights I have not slept. And all that time the final line eluded me.” I must have looked puzzled (indeed I was) for he continued: “The Sonnet from the Portuguese. Don’t you remember? You said I should write a new ending to it! And now I have it!” If I was impressed by his commitment to the ardours of his craft, then I was all the more impressed when he stood up and declaimed:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints -- and after my last breath
If God choose, shall love thee more in Heaven.
How many ways? I make that about seven.

I told Frank it certainly was an improvement.

As we were leaving I was reminded what an unaccountable fellow Frank is. He stopped for a moment and swished his cane dismissively as he cast his eye over the scene in the graveyard, the graves under a thick carpet of autumn leaves. “That lot,” he said, “they’re never going to achieve much, are they?”