Grasmere, a mini-journal

Just back from Grasmere, where the aimiable poet Mark Ward (Thunder Alley) was my host. Good grief.  Why have I never given William Wordsworth more thought? Why? Well, mostly because his famous daffodils poem is the stuff of enforced colonial curriculum for anyone who grew up in the Caribbean up until quite recently. The firebrand poet Kamau Braithwaite railed about British poems. In his legendary History of the Voice, he said:

we (Caribbean people) haven’t got the syllables, the syllabic intelligence, to describe the hurricane, which is our own experience, whereas we can describe the imported experience of the snowfall

So I have ignored Wordsworth et al because he was imported to the Caribbean and served up on a plate by the British as an example of what poetry should be.

But my recent visit to Grasmere has had to make me rethink my past prejudices. Worsdworth himself was accused of being a poet who wrote about  ‘low’ people: leech gatherers, shepherds and the like. Okay, so he wrote poems in even metre and rhyme and form. All this is very unfashionable today – super unfashionable. But – he heralded a period of romance, a period which named and even iconised the English obsession with England’s nature.

The Christian Scholar C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves says:

For some people, perhaps especially for Englishmen and Russians, what we call ‘the love of nature’ is a permenent and serious sentiment.

Wordsworth was a serious poet.

Serious and mad. Of course, they were all mad up there. Moonbathing at night, walking for hours over the fells, bathing in the icy tarns.

Mark Ward is an excellent raconteur and guide. He told me of Dorothy Wordsworth’s wooden teeth – or clackers. A lot else.

I must also report that there is some excellent walnut and date cake served up there too. At a big house where Dickens once stayed, I think.

We visited a Roman fort on a high mountain. I fell in a small bog.

Great weekend.


~ by moniqueroffey on May 26, 2009.

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