No opportunity for eavesdropping today as we moved onto the shops in the next village along. Deep devastation ensued when we realised that the posh charity shop was closed for a refurb. The rest had little to offer and no interesting conversations to ear flap over.
On the way back we listened to BBC Radio Devon and a rather gentle feature on pratfall words: words that are easier to read than say. Bizarrely, the Radio Devon list included ‘edited’ and ‘brewery’. Fascinatingly, the presenter confessed to persistently tranposing the m and n in emnity and, if they were still awake, listeners were then invited to ring in and share theirs, whereupon an old gentleman rang in to state publically that he had always had a problem with Huntingdonshire.
As the CD player isn’t working in the car (bound to happen the second you pay £450 for a service) and the roads are too winding to be fiddling around with other stations we were stuck with the show, so the kids amused themselves by saying ‘specifically’ and ‘particularly’ and ‘Penelope’ and some such and when the journey (ordeal) was over I remembered I had used to struggle with saying this flower’s name myself.
The flower was in the posy on my mother’s dining table last night. I was pretty poor value for money conversationally, and to look at, suffering from some terrible exhaustion but I managed to pull my face out of the soup to snap this bloom grown from some bulbs I succeeded in sending to her a few Christmases ago. (I know.)
In the meantime, the CD player still doesn’t work. Grrr.
I have blogged about spring before – it happens every year after all. I have walked plenty this week, and seen much that is new after the dank, dour months of a brown winter: tight-budded pinpricks studding the hawthorn, a lone bee and butterfly brushing against cream walls, both discombobulated by the sun. A battalion of birdsong firing over the rooftops and this unnamed tactile splendour: a catkin that’s been down the gym.
And yet, as the snowdrops bloom with all their puny might, with the blowsy crocuses and uniform daffodils following hard on their delicate white heels, I always think of the Fran Landesman lyric, that spring can really hang you up the most. The Landesman lyrical sentiment is taken from the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land
I. The Burial of the Dead
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
The words speak of change, which many of us are hardwired to resist although we generally seem to do worse, psychologically speaking, with external circumstantial changes, not directly within our control. Every year we are aware that spring, a change, is coming about this time – and we might feel, for the most part, that the seasonal change is welcome after months of short, dark days. So what of Eliot’s Waste Land?
For me, it is stark reality of bright light on the ‘dead land’ that unsettles. The sunscald in what once passed for a garden, the illumination of winter dust suddenly strewn everywhere… the fear that spring will, this time, undo us. These tensions provoke action. Spring cleaning and gardening for some, artistic productivity in others. Busyness will save us from the memory and desire, stirring, we hope.
Yes, April is the cruellest month. Be sure to enjoy March whichever way you can.
The title of this post is inspired by a new book about language and nature titled ‘Landmarks‘ by Robert MacFarlane and published in hardback this week.
N.b. This post has given me terrible trouble what with dodgy punctuation and big ideas gone astray. Apologies if it does not quite cohere.
We all have one.
Sometimes, I just want to flip the lid, take it out of my cranium and rest the damn thing on the window ledge.
There is no meaning. There is meaning. There is no meaning. There is meaning.
Chunter chunter, huffle puffle puff.
Wittgenstein was right.
If I were an artist, with a studio and paints and rags and stuff, today I would just sweep the whole lot aside onto the floor. I might jump up and down on canvases and throw tubes of oils out of the window. If I were a potter, I’d take pleasure in throwing each piece at the wall and watching all the work smash into little pieces on the ground.
Take that, I would say, although no-one would hear me.
It wouldn’t be in a fit of rage either. It would be a calm destruction. A clearing of the decks to start anew. If there’s one thing I dislike over all things, it’s being stuck.
Words don’t lend themselves well to being torn asunder. There they will remain, 2D and lifeless, on the screen or the paper, waiting for someone to string them together for long enough to give them meaning. Individual words are fixed in nature, evolving barely in one lifetime. Maybe that’s why I like poetry – you can make them do things they don’t ought to. Stuff square words into round holes, make them work a little harder for their imagery.
I find these properties of words frustrating sometimes; I really do. Still, I shall kick on, in my head, at least. Meanwhile, enjoy these clouds heading in the wrong direction…
Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth at Snape Maltings
Anything more than that and words are probably needed.
But I have noticed, as time goes on, that if I take an image I like, I feel instantly happy.
Writing does not work in the same way. There cannot, like a picture, be another set of words. The words are the words and they can only be redrafted, rewritten, until enough is enough. These are today’s words and there can be no others.
Visuals just don’t work that way.
I am glad of it.