Thursday, 18 September 2008

Calm on the Wold

It was nice today to wake up to a proper autumn morning. It was misty, but by the time I'd walked back from dropping the kids off at school the day had turned both crisp and bright. I'm drinking coffee and blogging now (well duh!) but I'm contemplating sweeping up the leaves that have fallen on the drive (perhaps I'll just leave it to he fairies it the Rackham picture above) and sorting out the veg patch. But before I spring (or should that be fall?) into action I shall leave you with the poem I was thinking of on my walk this morning. Despite the traffic and the falling leaves and the children's chatter it was so very calm. Well, here's Tennyson, he says things so much better than I.

Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
And only thro' the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground:

Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And on all silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold:

Calm and still light on yon great plain
That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main!

Now, for a complete change of tone. Here's what people did for fun on this day before the telly was invented. Fabulously and utterly mental; there's nothing like an ancient folk tradition to get your head spinning! The extract is taken from Miles Hadfield's The English Almanac.

Once a famous fair, connected with the university, was held at Stourbridge, near Cambridge. In the seventeenth century its fame attracted visitors from London. Later its popularity waned, but the enthusiasm of a celebrated eighteenth-century squire, Jacob Butler, kept it going. He used to invite the giants and dwarfs to lunch with him.

On the Sunday nearest this day the ceremony "clipping the church" takes place at Painswick in Gloucestershire. Children join hands and form a ring all round the church, and then advance and retreat three times. The villagers eat "puppy-dog pies" - now round cakes with a china dog inside. Other features of the occasion, which is certainly very old, persuade some antiquarians that it is a direct descendant of the Lupercalia* - Painswick was a Roman settlement.

Well, there you have it. Dwarfs, giants, puppy-dog pies and Roman rituals around the Parish church, it makes last season's Desperate Housewives look like a very dull deal!

*Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. Plutarch...may now hot-foot it to Painswick in Gloucestershire, just to observe the fun!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Lol, life is certainly a little duller these days eh? :)

Gorgeous poem chuck.

Why does it seem so much quieter in Autumn, is it something to do with the weather?