Saturday, May 06, 2006

Comfort Zone

I am out of sorts this evening, hardly volatile, but, shall we say, moody? I've been edgy all day, in that unfocused, non-attributable way that greasily murmurs 'hormones' . I am after all, une femmme d'un certain âge, and we're not talking l'âge d'or. Mais san fairy Anne. Ça y est!

I came here to exorcise the ghoul with my favourite poem.

A smart move would have been to go to the gym, get on a treadmill and work it off: release the endorphin within. I recognised this at around 8 o'clock, some two hours ago, but couldn't muster that degree of discipline.

Instead I wandered around some blogs by way of displacement activity. This was fairly effective until I wandered into the thoughts of a woman going through a very tough time; and then there was a foolish boy capering in the body of an adult, gleefully shrieking naughty words at the world without Mummy knowing. Going down. But Chevy Girl's got Alannis Morissette. Upturn!

Definitely hormones.

POEM! It's A Fanfare for the Makers, by Louis MacNeice, and I first discovered it in 1974, as I know from the fly-leaf of Helen Gardner's New Oxford Book of English Verse. After thirty-two years, my New Book has begun to develop that old book smell which either soothes the spirit or brings on acute claustrophobia.

My maternal grandmother's house smelt of books, rugs, strong French coffee heated in a saucepan, and gentle, soft-bodied, soft-skinned, untidily chignoned old lady. We lived too far apart for me to really know Grandmère as a person - and I calculate that she was 62 when I was born (though Mother may correct me if she ever gets as far as this blog - Can you 'ear me, Mother?!) but (so?!) I found her enchanting.

At a time when my parents were elbow-deep in the responsibilities of raising seven children, I suppose that my other-worldly grandmother suggested a romantic happy-ever-after to someone who rather prided herself on her commonsense but almost lived in books!

Grandmère gave me a beautiful black doll in hand-knitted clothes to go in the wooden cot with powder blue corduroy covers from my parents. She gave me the blue hardback Grimms' Fairy Tales that someone later stole from its temporary hiding place under the big creosoted shed outside 3C's classroom; and The Arabian Nights, carefully sleeved in magical wrapping paper with wizards in robes of cobalt blue, buttercup yellow and magenta on a black night background; The Children of the New Forest, with my name on the flyleaf in her beautiful copperplate handwriting, now faded from black to brown; and a nightdress case of thick thick white linen with a Goodnight message and a border of hearts cross-stitched in red silk.

Grandmère was indeed from a different age and culture, but part of who my mother is, and who I am, comes from her: certainly our appreciation of colour, texture and detail, whether in the garden, in embroidery and textiles, or even in the ironing!

My scholar grandfather, who I never knew, imparted a love of books and study, and the appreciation of a good mind, something I also see in my father, who has always enjoyed books, but also playing with words, teasing out incongruities, and making shamelessly bad puns. Ach!

Anyway, enough of my shameless wallow. Here's the poem, A Fanfare for the Makers, by Louis MacNeice. This is what it's all about.

A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what?
To the small fire that never leaves the sky.
To the great fire that boils the daily pot.

To all the things we are not remembered by,
Which we remember and bless. To all the things
That will not even notice when we die,

Yet lend the passing moment words and wings.

So Fanfare for the Makers: who compose
A book of words or deeds, who runs may write
As many do who run, as a family grows

At times like sunflowers turning towards the light,
As sometimes in the blackout and the raids
One joke composed an island in the night,

As sometimes one man's kindliness pervades
A room or house or village, as sometimes
Merely to tighten screws, or sharpen blades

Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes
At midnight means to share them, as one man
In old age plants an avenue of limes

And before they bloom can smell them, before they span
The road can walk beneath the perfected arch,
The merest greenprint when their lives began

Of those who walk there with him, as in default
Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite
Of all assaults conscripts counterassault,

As mothers sit up late night after night
Moulding a life as miners day by day
Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite

In an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers play
Their fish, as workers work and can take pride
In spending sweat before they draw their pay,

As horsemen fashion horses while they ride.
As climbers climb a peak because it is there,
As life can be confirmed even in suicide:

To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair.

1 comment:

CG said...

Glad that you enjoyed the music.

Always good for the soul and hormones (oh god, those efffing hormones).