Looking out the Window

View Of Rose Cottage from Dog Lane

One of my favourite occupations is to run my fingers over a shelf of books in my library and pull out a book, open its pages at random and read. As I read poetry every day, it is often a book of poetry I open. I have quite a few anthologies and one of them is a green and gold tooled copy of Poems of Today published in 1924. It contains many gems from poets as diverse as Walter-de-la-mare to Padraic Colum. I opened it at a poem that began,” I come in the little things saith The Lord.”

What, isn’t that Elizabeth Goudge speaking? Going back to the top of the page I see the poem is titled” Immanence” not a work or a word I know. I looked up the definition to find that it means “the theory that the divine encompasses or is manifested in the material world. That the spiritual world permeates the mundane. The author of the poem was one Evelyn Underhill.

Immediately I was on the road to The Highlands, and the start of Elizabeth’s book “The Middle Window.” It is written in three “books” with a Prologue. Each section starts with a relevant quote. The Prologue’s entitled The Search has this; “To those who cry out against romance I would say – You yourself are romance. You are the lost prince herding obscurely amongst the swine. The romance of your spirit is the most wonderful of stories.” Attributed to A. E. a pen name of Evelyn Underhill, a writer and theologian that Elizabeth much admired.

“I come in little things,
Saith The Lord:
Yeah! On the glancing wings,
of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart….”

I could picture Elizabeth and Cousin Mary and Edith gazing reverently at The Little Things in a house deep in the countryside, which was just on the cusp of Autumn.

That’s what I love about a Book by Elizabeth Goudge, her writing takes you and shows you not only what she has seen, but what others have seen before her. It is always a journey worth taking. As the nights begin to draw in, burrow into a Goudge novel and be taken somewhere else.

Silver Writing Desk From Elizabeth Goudge’s Collection

Comments

  1. How wonderful and uplifting to read this. I found another link with Elizabeth as I also love Evelyn Underhill.

  2. What a lovely ,current story! Just what I am doing; rereading Elizabeth Goudge . The poem is especially meaningful to me right now.

  3. Thank you for your reflections. I have been revisiting ‘Green Dolphin Country.’ I have always greatly admired EG’s insight into human relationships. GDC is one I have often thought about: the long difficult process of a real change of heart. Nothing facile here. Set in a vividly adventurous background, and spiced with her delightful humour.

    • I just finished The Middle Window. One of the few books of Elizabeth’s I had not read. It was enchanting. I had put it off as I had heard negative reviews or comments, but I’m so glad I decided to “burrow” in and see for myself. Her books are definitely a “balm”. They slow me down and let me find my footing, a good story, one that is beautiful and truthful does no end of good for me.
      I love her anthologies as well. I am so impressed with how well read she was and it is fun to look into the poems and prose she shares in them and in that way get to know her a little better.
      Thanks for a wonderful post.

  4. Dear Deborah,
    Your posts are always a bright star in time whenever they arrive.

    A dear friend of mine is in mourning and she wrote recently how tuning into the little things in nature — tiny spiders, the movement of butterfly wings, the setting sun transforming a tree’s bark to orange flames, a falling leaf — is what carries her from day to day. I look forward to sharing this post and poem with her.

    I’ve not read The Middle Window in many years and only once. With the first touch of autumnal coolness, I will begin again.

    Thank you so very much. You are greatly appreciated,
    Jana

  5. Last night at around 3am I finished the last 2 chapters of The Rosemary Tree for perhaps the 4th time, maybe the 5th. Entering back into Elizabeth Goudge’s world is like potion for me, as the scenes may be familiar, but her inner commentary is always fresh and relevant for right now. And it’s indeed like finding old friends after time apart.
    Right now is a hard time to traverse in the world as things unravel and fear stalks all our lives. What better time to be reminded to use the situation of the moment as exactly what I need to take in and grow on. And to rise to compassion no matter what, for the other, and especially for ourselves. That’s what I caught at 3am in the final 2 chapters of the book, hearing it as if for the first time, and exactly what I had forgotten and needed to hear.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I have always thought that The Middle Window was one of Elizabeth’s unappreciated works, but I love it too.

    • I found this a brave and interesting post. Thank you for sharing it. It seems that it often takes a sleepless night and the small hours of the morning to come to life changing insights. Many of Elizabeth’s characters and therefore by inference herself, come to life changing decisions during this period. Nadine and David in The Bird In The Tree, Mary Lindsey in The Scent of Water, Froniga in The White Witch, and many more. Living in the moment is a very powerful insight to have come to. As is having compassion for ones self as well as others. There has always been fear to battle and Elizabeth had a strong fear of “unravelling” becoming nothing. I think she would be gratified and shyly pleased that any words of hers could be a benefit to you.

      • Thank you, Deborah. I would give a lot to have been her neighbor and chatted with her over tea, or met at the corner grocery. In fact, I once lived close to where she lived in Oxford, and walked in the Port Meadow, where she walked…
        I wonder if she got her daily bread at the same little store we did?

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Fall is coming early here, and I thought just yesterday that it is time for re-reading one of her books. The Middle Window is one I haven’t met yet, so the search is on! I can’t begin to tell you how much Elizabeth’s writings have influenced my life. It is a joy to find others who appreciate her, too.

  7. Thank you for taking time to share today. . .
    Elizabeth’s stories have always been s balm and comfort to me, and to my husband.
    As Carolyn says, in her comment above: “. . . As things unravel and fear stalks all our lives.”
    The company of Elizabeth’s deep and wise stories, and knowing there are others in this dear world who look for, and are moved by the whisper of love in the little things.

  8. New to this group of friends (as I feel you are, in our shared love for Elizabeth Goudge – and her understanding) I find the quotes and comments enlightening and encouraging. Thank you, everyone.

  9. It is not surprising that the writings of Evelyn Underhill found resonance with Elizabeth Goudge. Kindred spirits find each other on the printed page. Thankfully! Which is also why I am so delighted with these lovely posts and the comments they inspire.

    Forty-five years ago, a dear friend shared a book by Elizabeth Goudge she had discovered in an old library. Our friendship has endured a lifetime, as well as our mutual love for the many Elizabeth Goudge books we have collected over the years.

    Autumn is such a wonderful time to revisit them all!

  10. Good afternoon! I’ve been reading and loving Elizabeth Goudge’s books since I was a teenager (over 40 years now, crikey!), and have collected copies of almost all of them. I’ve just found and read Christine Rawlins’ biography “Beyond the Snow” and came to look for any pictures, and found this site! Thank you for the stories. I would love to know more about the letter you found in Rosemary Sutcliff book – you say you wrote about it elsewhere but I can’t seem to find it. Can you point me in the right direction? I’ve signed up for the blog, and look forward to more stories. Go well and thanks again. Julia Heaney – Johannesburg

    • Thank you for your interest Julia, welcome to the World of Elizabeth Goudge. If you type Paper Treasure into the search engine at the bottom of the front page, that will take you to the blog about my wonderful find.

  11. Thank you for posting one of Elizabeth’s personal Little Things. That writing desk is quite a delight! I also appreciate the little things you highlight here, and God’s hand in them. They are what I turn to in times of great hurt, joy, shock and grieving. They are so much of what we are made of.

  12. I didn’t know Evelyn Underhill but will see if I can find some of her poems. This on was so beautiful ~ just what I like for a cosy evening in by the fire ~ or under the apple tree in the summer ~ or looking out on the rain. Timeless!
    Thank you for the posts and this lovely site ~ it feels like a real community.

    • yes it does and I’m so glad I looked in my “junk” file today as, sadly, that is where hotmail files some of the posts …!

  13. I’m so glad you felt like this was a real community, as I’ve been thinking just that as I read Gentian Hill for perhaps the 5th time over the years. Goudge’s novels feel to me like a safe space I come back to again and again, always discovering greater depths each time, somehow always relevant to precisely what is happening in my life at the moment. This time, with this particular story, I recognize such a feeling of kinship with her, this amazing artist/mystic who touches my heart down where my own best self lies. How lucky I am that years ago, a new friend introduced me to the Eliots, and they have been ‘family’ to me ever since. My go-to place when I am hurting, or need to shut myself away from this hurting world to go deeper into the core of myself. I wish I could know each of YOUR stories, you others who feel so at home with this extraordinary woman and writer!

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