Clementine and Winston Churchill

Winston and Clementine Churchill. Bronze statue in the gardens of their home Chartwell, Kent.

By Winston Churchill’s own admission, his wife Clementine was a driving force in his becoming British Prime Minister and helping him steer the country through the second world war.

The above statue of The Churchills can be found in the gardens of Chartwell, their home for over forty years from September 1922 until shortly before his death in 1965.

I love this statue and like to imagine them both taking a quiet moment beside the lakes in the grounds of Chartwell, perhaps discussing the way forward for the country. ‘Behind every great man…’

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

H

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer – 1886-1918

Batemans and Rudyard Kipling.

“We had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself]said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…”

Rudyard Kipling on discovering Batemans, his future home.

Rudyard Kipling’s Jacobean Batemans.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/features/house-at-batemans

The Trees by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

On this day in history

Three hundred and one years ago today, 25 April 1719, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe- the novel about a man stranded on a tropical desert island-was published.

Desert island risks: Robinson Crusoe at 300

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

Lighthousekeeping is rich and poetic. It’s about the relationship between orphaned Silver and mysterious and pragmatic lighthouse keeper Pew. And it’s about stories. Silver’s hunger for stories and Pew’s willingness to tell them. Stories about people and past lives. Every life has a story long after the physical body has gone. Oral stories passed down through the generations.

‘Tell me a story Jeanette’-

… you certainly told a magical one in Lighthousekeeping.

The Fisherman.

Eastbourne, East Sussex January 2020.

The Fisherman

By W. B. Yeats

Although I can see him still.
The freckled man who goes
To a grey place on a hill
In grey Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies,
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped ‘twould be
To write for my own race
And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face,
And grey Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark under froth,
And the down-turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream;
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, ‘Before I am old
I shall have written him one
poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.’

“The Fisherman”, published in 1916, depicts Yeats’ considerations into the loss of Irish tradition through the persona of a fisherman.

This image, caught on my Eastbourne seafront run last Sunday morning, made me think of The Fisherman by W. B Yeats.

Romeo and Juliette by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I missed this at O, A’ and Degree level, then recently read David Nicholls ‘Sweet Sorrow’ which finally inspired me to give Romeo and Juliette a go. I actually listened to it on audio- I struggle to read Shakespeare, but love to listen and let that beautiful language wash over me. Looking out for a Globe production now to complete the experience.

View all my reviews

Romeo and Juliet (Wordsworth Classics)

Sweet Sorrow: the new Sunday Times bestseller from the author of ONE DAY