Sunday, 9 October 2011

Stopping Ghosts By Byron's Pool

In The Orchard by emka, trek earth.com
For over a week, there has been a Lighthouse Festival in Cambridge, celebrating all things Virginia Woolf. I attended a lecture held at The Orchard in Grantchester, the corner of England where time stands still (at ten to three, and there is always honey still for tea). In Grantchester, your heart could stop, and you would lay down happy, all sorrows long forgot, and dreams fulfilled, even if they were not.

Rupert Brooke
The lecture was on the Bloomsbury group - you know, the disreputable 'lived in squares, loved in triangles' lot - Woolf, Bell, Keynes, Strachey, Grant, Carrington, Forster, and on the outskirts Rupert Brooke. The lecturer was wonderful, and each illustrated detail of their lives and loves shimmered against the gold and green of the apple boughs outside the Tea Room. We were promised tea, and we had tea, finally outside on the green canvas deck chairs. And I thought of Dawn, my friend Dawn, who promised she would never be very far away, and clearly could not resist autumn in The Orchard. A couple seeing me all alone (a young woman! all alone!) engaged me in conversation and then led me across autumn leaves down to Byron's pool. (That sounds dodgy but I assure you they were delightful). Rupert Brooke, described by Yeats as 'the handsomest young man in England', wrote the following lines about Byron's skinny dipping adventures in the poem that has immortalised Grantchester...

Michael Sowa, The Little King, from Magpie Tales

'I only know that you may lie
Day-long and watch the Cambridge sky,  
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester...
Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly Lordship swims his pool'  

I felt the ghost draw near, and then we saw Byron's Swans, majestic and moody, and I thought of Brooke, writing these homesick lines in CafĂ© des Westens, Berlin, in the spring of 1912, dreaming of King and country, aching for a piece of green England, while around him, Germany gathered itself for war.

In Cambridge, the ghosts are everywhere. I don't mind them at all.

16 comments:

Tess Kincaid said...

Nice post, Shaista...from Woolf to Sowa!

christopher said...

I agree with Tess, a pleasant essay about a special time and place, well formed and to the point you wished to make. No false starts or trails that I noticed.

Juniper said...

I so love the smooth flow of your posts, this one particularly enchanting. Thank you for brining us with you. What a memorable experience and place!

Deborah said...

Wondefully done :o)

steven said...

rupert brooke - one of my most favourite writers! i really enjoyed reading this story of a day shaista - a special day! steven

Brian Miller said...

nice...really enjoyed the step through...and i dont mind the ghosts myself...

Shaista said...

Tess - thankyou for the Sowa :)
Juniper - you're welcome! Thanks for coming with.
Steven - it doesn't hurt that he was also divine to look at :)

Kathy Bischoping said...

Mm, a lovely flow of consciousness. Thank you!

Kristen Haskell said...

Your writing is lovely, as is your blog. I love following blogs that are special. Yours is special. Thank you for visiting my blog. Kristen

Helen said...

Your Magpie is lovely - Mr. Brooke was indeed a handsome fellow!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I always so enjoy your outings, you relay them so beautifully. Swans on Byron's Pool - so romantic. Sigh. It would have been even better had it been a single handsome young man with curls like Byron's, rather than a couple, but we take what shows up!

Shaista said...

Sherry you are such a romantic :) But I am afraid had it been a young devilish Byronesque figure, I would not have strolled down to a secluded pool!!
(At least I hope not...)

Leslie said...

I would love to see the ghosts in Cambridge - oh the stories

delightful...
thanks for the thoughtful visit

HyperCRYPTICal said...

What a wonderful imformative post. Thank you.

Anna :o]

Gerry Snape said...

Yeats, Brooke, Byron and the Charleston menage...could anything be more romantic! great post and lucky you to be there in Cambridge

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