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Happy New Year

Open a book and let Elizabeth speak…..
“During the next twenty minutes he passed through one of the oddest experiences of his life. As he moved up and down before the bars, trying ceaselessly for another sight of that boy, he began to recognise some of the faces that came and went in front of him. One hulking brute of a fellow had the bluest Irish eyes he had ever seen. Another, a boy, with the face of a depraved old man, had a mouth as sensitively cut as Stella’s own. A third, hunchbacked and deformed, had a pock marked face that startled the Abbe by suddenly splitting into a grin. He noticed other eyes, other mouths, other gallant attempts at cheerfulness. Occasionally, when he slipped a coin into a wooden spoon, his eyes would meet the eyes of the poor devil that held it, and he had the sensation that the trivial act was not trivial at all but an actual entering in of himself into the being of the man before him”

(Gentian Hill p 378)

Front cover of 1st Edition Gentian Hill

Like many of us, we were taken out for dinner over the festive break and went to a small market town to enjoy it. The town is a pretty and ancient one, the evening cool enough to be seasonal and the Christmas lights added their glamour to the occasion.

As we walked up the charming narrow street soaking up the atmosphere, we passed in a doorway a hump of sleeping bag and blankets, and a man looked up and gave me a cheerful wave as we passed. Not behind bars, but a prisoner none the less; of circumstances, of fate, from a society that had locked him out. In 2020, I am appalled, ashamed and amazed that this is one of the problems that not only has not been eradicated, but sadly is on the rise.

Elizabeth spoke to me through the medium of the random page of the first of her works I pulled off the shelf. Many of her works contain prisoners, their inner turmoil, their crimes and punishment. Prisoner welfare was a cause close to her heart, one that she carried out quietly, consummately away from the public eye, all her life.

One of her favourite quotes was: – “what the dead had no speech for, when living, they can tell you, being dead: the communication of the dead is tongued with fire..”
(T. S. Eliot Little Gidding). I have no doubt that Elizabeth would have had similar feelings towards the homeless as my own.

She would also have taken away the gifts of his smile, the total lack of judgement he displayed, the fact that in his destitution, he could look up and be happy for us. She would also have enjoyed the other aspects of the evening just as keenly; companionship and the importance of family, the quiet appreciation of the beauty of starlight over old roofs.

Thank you for the companionship of like minds. We wish all of you a safe, peaceful and happy New Year.

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

Editor’s Letter January 2017

Editor’s Letter January 2017

The start of a fresh calendar year. A time of resolution and the gift of a clean sheet, anything seems achievable. I wanted to read something from Elizabeth’s repertoire that reflected this time and came up with nothing. Many of Elizabeth’s works end with Christmas. But the frivolity and secular nature of the New Year celebrations seems to not have inspired her. In desperation I turned to her short stories, a volume called “White Wings” and found that this collection had been printed in January 1952. A small gift of chance.

If anyone knows of a story or story line that Elizabeth wrote about the New Year, please let me know.

Steps Wells Cathedral

Visitation

Visitation

A poem by Deborah Gaudin
Chasing the ghost of Elizabeth Goudge
Pembrokeshire Autumn 2007

I thought I’d lost sight of you in the wet
empty town,
but your hair was white mist,
the scribbling waves echoed your pen
in their perfect, quiet constancy.

Extending a hand as your relict stepped
from within
the grey chambered spiral of her home,
stepping over the carpet to take your place
in the window overlooking the bay.

Sheltering in doorways I heard your gentle
themes in
the busker’s flute, the click of dogs claws
on the wet shiny pavements steep street,
accompanying the harp of rain.

I found your prose leaning against poets
at the back
of the small stone book shop, a shy guest
rubbing spines with their dusty eloquence,
a clean taste in the mouth.

The hidden hills were full of others work,
no words of yours.
But your bones were as strong and homely
as the ancient village which overlooked
the distant grey slab of sea.

Sweet Inspiration

Email from America

I grew up reading and loving Elizabeth Goudge’s many books. I loved “A Child from the Sea,” “The Middle Window,” and all of the books featuring the Eliot family. I have been able to acquire a few of these titles to add to my personal library, and I am always looking out for more.

I came upon your site when I was searching for audio book versions of Ms. Goudge’s works, and while I have yet to find any of these, I was pleased to find your site with its interesting sections including photos, biographical information, and readers’ commentary.

So, at your invitation, and as a reader of both Ms. Goudge and of the numerous Harry Potter books, may I point out that on the website the author of the Harry Potter books is incorrectly mentioned as “J. K. Rowlings” ? I believe there is no “s” in the surname.

I was delighted to read that as a child Ms. Rowling had read and been influenced by the work of Ms. Goudge,  what a lovely (and logical) connection between two marvellously gifted storytellers.

I look forward to visiting your site again and seeing additional details about the life and work of Elizabeth Goudge.

With my thanks and best wishes,

Rebecca Thornburn

Perceived Pronunciation

 

A couple of weeks ago, I received this question about the pronunciation of Damerosehay and thought that the information might be of interest to other Goudge readers.

This must seem a very silly question, but could you tell me how to pronounce Damerosehay?

Thanks,
John Goldsmith

 

 

Not silly at all.  After doing a bit of thinking and asking the advice of Sylvia Gower, who wrote The World of Elizabeth Goudge, I came up with the following.

 No one that we know ever heard Elizabeth say the word out loud so we don’t know exactly. But it comes from the Huguenot French, and I think is pronounced;

Dame as in Madam with a silent e, Rose the flower, Hay as in cut grass, Dame/rose/hay.
But as Sylvia pointed out, being fictitious it could be said anyway you wish.

 If I find out any more, I’ll let you know.

Thanks for visiting the site and an interesting question

 Deborah Gaudin

 

 

Thanks for such a helpful reply.

I tried dame as in game – but that sounded wrong,
I tried dame as in ham – but that didn’t seem right either.
Dame as in maDAM feels just right!

John