Monday, July 25, 2011

The Bookman Visiting Vide Grenier resulting in poetic memories

Here in deepest rural France, somewhere north east of the Dordogne, staying in the village of l'Hopital St.Jean (pop 300), we have spent most of the weekend visiting vide grenier which literally translated means "out of the attic". They are in effect I guess huge open air garage sales with all sorts of interesting stuff - plates, bowls, jugs, rugs, books, glassware, electrical appliances, clothing etc etc.
Of course it is the books and comics that interest me most, 99% French language, and it is especially interesting to see so many famous authors in translation from English. At one stall I noticed some 40 Agatha Christie titles but current and past big name authors were well represented.I also noticed a pair of Laurel and Hardy bookshelves which I would have snapped up were we not so far from home and with ongoing luggage weight worries.
I also stumbled on to a stall being run by an English couple who live in the district where I picked up a copy of Feet on the Ground - An Approach to Modern Verse by Margaret J. O'Donnell Pub. Blackie in 1946 and reprinted 23 times before this 1963 edition. It cost me the equivalent of NZ80 cents.

I bought it because when I started browsing through it I was immediately transported back decades to my 5th form English class at Gisborne Boys High School with teacher Geoff Sharp. He really introduced me to poetry. It was of course totally focussed on the great English poets and here in this book I found many of them Rupert Brooke, Hilaire Belloc, T.S.Eliot, John Masefield, W.B.Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Walter De La Mare, G.K.Chesterton among them.
Here are a couple of verses of poems committed to memory all those years ago that appear in my purchase:

NOD - Walter De La Mare

Softly along the road of evening,
In a twighlight dim with rose,
Wrinkled with age, and drenched with dew,
Old Nod, the shepherd goes.

CARGOES - John Masefield

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack
Butting through the Channel in the mid mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays

TARANTELLA - Hilaire Belloc

Do you remember an Inn,
Do yo remember an inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the high Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark verandah)?

LEISURE - W.H.Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait til her mouth can
Enrich that smile that her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

"W.H.Davies......pre-eminently the poet of  simplicity; in words almost all of one syllable, he sets forth his simple philosophy".
The Bookman suggests it is a philosophy we might all consider...............

No comments: