Goudgian Archetypes

Well she has been and gone, like the Persiad meteors a fleeting splendour. As Elizabeth says ” a shining star in every generation” and for us it is our daughter. The delight of the first visit since lockdown was mutual. Like David, she was returning to her childhood home, and while Riverside is no Damerosehay, it’s roots are even deeper going back to Saxon times and has it has it’s own myths and hosts of people to draw strength and a sense of achievement from.

Elizabeth has given us many archetypes during her writing career; the Matriarch, stern, loving, benign, the under valued hard working aunt, the struggling parish priest, the local workers, domestic, agricultural, the impoverished gentry, the misfits and outsiders, prisoners,  the mentally disturbed.

All of these however hold one trait in common, they grow, evolve, into the best they can be at what they are.

Lucilla learns to be humble and to know her faith, Margaret is lauded by both David and Lucilla for being the under valued but indispensable person she has become, Hilary, blissfully unaware of the depth of his spiritual growth and power, Nadine and George’s acceptance of the wonderful life they have created, Michael’s rehabilitation, Cousin Mary’s grace.

Whenever my daughter is spending time with us I always want to be Lucilla, dispensing words of wisdom and comfort. It’s invariably the other way round, and I find myself being cast into the role of Margaret, being more than capable of looking after creature comforts.

Do you have a Goudge archetype that you relate to and who inspires and impacts on your daily life? I suspect like me it depends a little on the situation you are currently living through.

“All bereavement, whether fate inflicts it on you or whether the relinquishment is your own, changes you” said Lucilla, “Don’t people say that nature abhors a vacuum? Something lost in the present means something new flowing in from the future; often a new or stronger faith. In your loss and gain you are bound to change and look at things a little differently.”

Contemplation

In Our Time of Trouble

In these days of self-isolation we work to reach out to one another in different ways. Reaching for consolation and advise from Elizabeth is probably one that we have all experienced.

She herself lived through the great flu pandemic of 1918, which killed more people than the horrendous world war they had just gone through, and was a contributing factor to Elizabeth’s spinsterhood.

So what would Elizabeth recommend that I read, I reached out and pulled The Rosemary Tree from the shelf. Not one of my favourite of her books, Daphne annoys me. I went to put it back and then remembered the themes that this work explores; confinement, isolation, imprisonment, illness, and the ultimate journey of death.

Perhaps it has something to say to me after all. Let Elizabeth keep you company and offer consolation for an evening or two, I don’t think the conversation will disappoint.

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.

Wells, Birth Place of Elizabeth Goudge

Visiting a City of Bells

Written By Susan Lee Hauser (2019)

The train swung round a bend, the blue hills parted like a curtain and the city of Torminster was visible. . .  . It seemed a buried city sunk at the bottom of the sea, where no life stirred and no sound was heard but the ringing of bells as the tide surged through forgotten towers and steeples. . . . and out of this sea rose a gray rock with three towers. . . The Cathedral. Chapt. I, ii

In July 2019 I re-visited the most beautiful cathedral city in England, Wells in Somerset, and soon after re-visited A City of Bells, Elizabeth Goudge’s loving tribute to Wells. I was delighted to recognize so much of what I saw and experienced in Wells reflected in her book. Goudge was born and spent her childhood in Wells and wrote Bells in 1935—one of her first books. Come on a tour with me and Miss Goudge!

by Barry Lewis – Picture Postcard Pretty- Wells CC

The water, that welled up no one knew how far down in the earth, was always inky black. . . . There were always pigeons wheeling round the holy well, the reflection of their wings passing over it like light. Chapt. I, iii

The most famous thing about Wells—and the origin of its name—is its ancient springs, which still flow around the Bishop’s Palace and right down the High Street through the market place. (Note that in this novel Miss Goudge has renamed the city “Torminster.”

Although the first church in the area was built in Saxon days (705 AD), there is some evidence that it was a holy place both for early British tribes and, later, for the Romans. The foundations of the Saxon church can be found today in the cemetery inside the cloister. The present cathedral was built from 1175 (under leadership of a Bishop Jocelin!) to the late 1400s, the first entirely Gothic-style cathedral in England.

The water from the wells is abundant around the city center. It flows in the gardens and moat of the Bishop’s Palace; it is home to fish and ducks, dragonflies and swans. (See below for more about the swans!) There is an actual well—Goudge’s “holy well,” above—that has stood in the market place for centuries. In the center of the photograph above you can see the well’s stone cover, and the channel to the right of the street runs with well water.

Springs behind Bishop’s Palace

Springs behind the cathedral

Between the tall Green Dragon and the equally tall bakery two doors off was wedged a little house only two stories high. . . . There were two gables, with a small window in each . . . and [a] large bow-window was to the right of the door and a smaller one to the left. Chapt. I, iii

The mystery house at the center of “The City of Bells” is still there on the high street at the market. (Both these photos, courtesy Robin McDowell Willis, 2018)  The house is now a restaurant on the ground level; it is said that William Penn once spoke from the double windows. The name “Green Dragon” that Miss Goudge gives the tavern may have come from  the fellow above, who can be found inside the Bishop’s Palace (see below).

Twice a week the market is full of vendors and shoppers for everything from books to delicious local cheeses or handmade jewelry to crocheted scarves or homemade sausage. But Wells is a busy city any day of the week. Tour buses now come barreling through “downtown” in a reverse of much of the same route Jocelyn took by foot in “Bells”: They completed the circuit of the Market Place and turned to their right up a steep street at a smart pace. Then they turned to their right a second time and passed under a stone archway into the Close. Instantly it seemed that they had come to the very center of peace. Chapt. I, iii

That ”steep street” is Sadler Street, and at its corner with the marketplace there is a pastry shop, much like the sweet shop Goudge often mentions. The “archway” of which Goudge writes is one of the old city gates, Brown’s Gate or The Dean’s Eye (1451). Incidentally, our apartment at 7A Cathedral Green—an apartment you may rent from Rural Retreats—was just two doors down from the gatehouse and several doors up from the Deanery, which is discussed below.

Gatehouse Wells

As for “the very center of peace,” that is the cathedral close, or green. It is a huge grassy area, sprinkled with starry daisy-like flowers and buttercups (are they in the aster family, dear reader?). The close may sometimes be the center of peace, but it was the center of football games, picnics, and play rehearsals while we were there (the city was conducting a theatre festival that weekend, with a local production of “As You Like It” set directly in front of the west doors of the cathedral.)

Jocelyn . . . looked across a space of green grass . . . to the . . . mass of the Cathedral. Its towers rose four-square against the sky and the wide expanse of the west front, rising like a precipice, was crowded with sculptured figures. They stood in their ranks, rising higher and higher, kings and queens and saints and angels, remote and still. Chapt. I, iii

Only the carved figures on the west front were still, those kings and queens and saints and angels who had faced a thousand such days and would face a thousand more. Chapt. II, iv

While Goudge describes the cathedral as being made of grey stone, Wells Cathedral is actually a honey color, made of local limestone. The entire western front is covered with some 300 statues, as Goudge says, of “kings and queens and saints and angels.” A good guidebook will help you figure out who’s who, but many of the statues are unrecognizable, having been destroyed in 1685’s Monmouth Rebellion. A handful have been restored recently, due to their actually crumbling. Interestingly, the front was originally painted with bright primary colors (as was much of the interior)!

In the photo above, you can see the audience and cast of “As You Like It,” which was performed on the front terrace that weekend. Inside the cathedral, I saw a new play about Jane Austin, “Austen Sisters,” written by and starring Susannah Harker and her sister Nelly. (Harker played Jane Bennett in the 1995 “Pride and Prejudice.”) It was fabulous!

My favorite carvings on the cathedral are the two seraphim flanking Christ triumphant at the top of the west front. They look like singing sunflowers, fresh from the set of “The Wizard of Oz”!  (The bible describes seraphim as having six wings; quite often in art even up in the eighteenth century seraphim are depicted literally with six wings, but with no arms or legs!) Goudge’s favorite carving, as described by Henrietta in Bells, was the infant Christ over the west door:

Henrietta . . . was in too much of a hurry to look up at the carved baby over the west door, as she usually did, always hoping that he would jump and crow in his mother’s arms at the sound of the bell. . . . ‘I do wish He’d laugh,’ said Henrietta, looking up at the Christ Child. ‘If I could I’d pinch his toes and then I’m sure He’d laugh.’ ‘Don’t be so silly,’ said Hugh Anthony. ‘He’s only stone. Come on. Run.’ Chapt. II, iv

Vicar’s Close Wells

To his left, on the opposite side of the road to the Cathedral, was another smaller mass of gray masonry, the Deanery, and in front of him was a second archway. Once through it they were in a discreet road bordered on each side with gracious old houses standing back in walled gardens. Here dwelt the Canons of the Cathedral with their respective wives and families. Chapt. I, iii

The Deanery Wells

The Deanery (photo above, left) is the former home of the Dean of the Cathedral, a magnificent 800-year-old mansion with its own Tudor garden out back. It is on the market for the first time, and rumors are that it may become an art gallery or a hotel. The photo on the right is of the Vicars’ Close, the oldest medieval residential street in Europe (1348). Built for cathedral clergymen, it now houses members of the choir and their families. I once had the good fortune to stay in the house in the far left back corner!

When she got to the Cathedral she turned to her left on to the Green by the west front, for it was possible for pedestrians to get from the Green to the Market Place through a little tunnel that bored through one of the houses. Chapt. II, iv

“little tunnel”

This “little tunnel” is another bit of medieval construction, known as the “Penniless Porch.” While it was a spot for beggars in earlier centuries, today one may frequently find a street musician playing and hoping for a bit of change. To the right through the opening is, as Goudge describes, the market place.

The interior of Wells Cathedral is nothing short of breathtaking. It beggars belief that the cathedral’s towering pillars and windows were built before the invention of hydraulic lifts and machinery. Some scholars credit the cathedral as being the first completely Gothic cathedral in Europe; certainly there are no Romanesque elements to be found anywhere, as there are in most medieval cathedrals. While the vaulting at the top of each pillar is spectacular, the other feature unique to Wells is the scissor arches at the crossing on all four sides. Absent from the original structure, the arches were added in the mid-14th century to bolster the building after the structure began to sink under its own weight.  

From where they stood at the west door it stretched away from their feet into the shadows in the distance so that they could not see where it ended. Great pillars stood in ordered ranks all the way up the nave, so tall that it gave one a crick in the neck to look up to the place where their straightness curved into lovely dim arching shapes that went up and up into the roof and criss-crossed high over your head like the branches of trees in a forest. Chapt. II, iv

Exterior clock face

Today you can tour the “higher parts” of the cathedral. During the tour you can observe the inner workings of the clock (see below), visit the masons’ drafting room, see a real stencil for the ceiling in the nave, sing through the singing holes in the western front (for the choir in the procession of psalms on Psalm Sunday); and enjoy some spectacular views in and outside the cathedral. This tour is relatively new and well worth the price and the stairs climbed!

“Jack Blandifers”

Then they . . . planted themselves in front of the clock on the north wall of the Cathedral to watch it strike nine. . . . It was a wonderful clock. A great bell hung between the life-size figures of two gentlemen sitting down. They had bushy hair and square caps on their heads, and held sticks in their hands, and for most of the day they sat perfectly still gazing at each other with every appearance of acute boredom. But at each hour they suddenly came to agitated life and made savage onslaughts on the bell. They struck it with their sticks and kicked it with their feet and made a great deal of noise indeed. Chapt. III, i

Interior clock face with jousting figures

The cathedral clock is a marvel. The interior clock face is the oldest in Europe, and it tells the months, days, and the phases of the moon. Above the face three men on horseback rotate in a circle, with one poor fellow constantly being knocked back on his horse and popping up again at every rotation. This performance draws quite a crowd every hour, on the hour!

Another hourly ritual at the cathedral is pausing for prayer. Led by different members of the clergy, visitors are asked to stop whatever they are doing to provide silence for the prayers that are then offered, reminding all present that the magnificent building monuments and carvings were built and are maintained for the glory of God. If you are lucky, you may also hear the organist or choir members rehearsing in the space. At 4:30, vergers rope off the eastern end of the cathedral to prepare for evensong (to which everyone is invited). If you have never been to evensong, do not miss this beautiful and ancient ceremony!

Man with toothache
Fan vaulting Chapter House
Man pulling a face

At the far end of the Market Place yet another of the archways in which Torminster abounded led to the great trees and green grass that surrounded the moated Bishop’s Palace. . . . Gray, battlemented walls, with loopholes for arrows, surrounded it and its gardens, completely hiding them from sight, and a wide moat, brimful of water, surrounded the walls. Chapt. VI, iv

The swan filled moat

The foremost swan turned gracefully towards her . . . and then turning from her with beautiful contempt he pulled with his beak the bell-rope that hung from the Palace wall. He rang it once, imperiously . . . and instantly a human menial showered bread from a window. Chapt. VI, iv

The swans of Bishop’s Palace have been a fixture for centuries. Apparently, Miss Goudge had some less than pleasant encounters with the swans as a child (see quote above), but most visitors are charmed by them. Now and again the swans fly away, but they are soon replaced and newcomers are trained to ring the bell for food as did their predecessors. It is certainly one of the most photogenic spots in a very photogenic city! There are a café and gift shop adjacent to the moat where one can watch the swans and have tea before visiting the spectacular palace ruins and gardens.

Fewer lovelier rooms were to be met with at this time in England than the gallery of the Bishop’s Palace at Torminster. It stretched the whole length of one wing of the Palace. . . . From the walls of the gallery the former Bishops of Torminster looked down upon it from their portraits. Chapt. IX, ii

The Gallery
The E

The bulk of the Bishop’s Palace was destroyed after the dissolution of the monasteries, but its ruins are still quite impressive. The portion of the palace described by Goudge—the gallery, stairwell, chapel, and some drawing rooms—remains for visitors. As you can see, the palace is still decorated for Christmas, recalling the party for the choirboys in City of Bells:

The polished floor shone like dark water.. . . At each end of the gallery a log-fire was blazing, its glow reflected on floor and walls, and in the center was a Christmas-tree, its top reaching to the ceiling and its branches laden with twinkling candles and presents done up in colored paper. Chapt. IX, ii

For fans of Elizabeth Goudge, no trip to Wells would be complete without paying homage to the house where she spent most of her childhood, a house affectionately called “the Rib.” Goudge was born elsewhere, the nearby but difficult to see “Tower House, but moved to this second location the age of three. The Rib can be found adjacent to both the eastern end of the cathedral and the Vicar’s Close. It is still a private home.

It is easy to fill a week or more with a visit to Wells. One can easily spend a couple days touring the cathedral—its carvings and stained glass, its high parts and outside carvings. There is a self-guided walking tour of the city, plenty of shopping (the cathedral also has a fine gift shop), several wonderful restaurants, a museum of the city and the surrounding area (including archaeological finds, as well as native flora and fauna), and nearby caverns and caves.

He saw this pattern now as a series of lovely things hung one behind the other like great curtains closest to him was the life of men with the moving figures of those he must love, an old man and a little girl and a husband and wife whose generosity would make their home his. Then came the city of bells and towers, then the blue hills behind it, then the sky that was now to him a rich o’erhanging firmament. And behind that? He was no imaginative child and his vision of wings and crowns was not as clear as Henrietta’s, but behind the things that are seen he was aware now of the things that are not seen and in his new-made pattern they were the warp.” Chapt. XIV, vii

For more information on Elizabeth Goudge, see this link, https://www.elizabethgoudge.org/index.php/a-short-biography/

All photos by Susan Lee Hauser (2019), unless otherwise noted.

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

A Christmas Message from Elizabeth

” He slept deeply that night. a thing he had not done for months past, then woke at his usual early hour, dressed and made his meditation.  Then he left the house for the first service of Christmas Day.  As he closed the garden door behind him he stood in amazement, for he had stepped not into the expected darkness but into light.  It was neither of the sun nor the moon but of the snow. The sky was a cold clear green behind the dark mass of the Cathedral, the wind had dropped and the stillness was absolute. The snow was not deep but it covered the garden with light.  He moved forward a few steps and looked about him.  The roof of the Cathedral, every parapet and ledge, the roofs of the houses and the boughs of the trees all bore their glory of snow.  He walked through the garden in awe and joy, thinking of the myriad snowflakes under his feet, each one a cluster of beautiful shapes of stars and flowers and leaves, all too small to be seen by any eye except that of their Creator, yet each giving light.  That was why he always wanted a white Christmas.”
(The Dean’s Watch p321-322)

Light through stained glass

Although these thoughts are attributed to Adam Ayscough, I am sure the experience was one Elizabeth had one Christmas in Ely. She saw that pellucid sky, the quilt of snow, was stunned by light. Her gift is being able to take a deeper meaning from the experience and give it to us, a Christmas gift.

We wish all of you a Joyous Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Pen Friends

In my quest for knowledge about the works and life of Elizabeth Goudge, my research has lead me to strange little odds and ends of information, which when put together add a piece to Elizabeth’s tapestry.

One of these was an ebay purchase I made a number of years ago. Another writer I admire is Rosemary Sutcliff and I noticed that a hard backed 1st edition of her Arthurian Trilogy was up for sale. I won the bid and waited for the books. When they came I was pleased to find that their condition was as described. When I opened them they were all three inscribed “Elizabeth with much love Rosemary” and from one of them fell a letter, which had been written by the author.

I have written about this find elsewhere, so lets just say that after a bit of detective work, I found out that Rosemary Sutcliff and Elizabeth had been friends, and both writers belonged to the same literary agent. Elizabeth wrote the forward to one of Rosemary’s over looked works “The Rider of the White Horse.” A quiet, descriptive novel set during England’s civil war.

“There is nothing nicer than being asked to write an introduction to a favourite book. ” Elizabeth writes, “But at the same time it is a difficult task. It is like being asked to describe the charm of a face you love. If you did not love the face so much, and even more the person behind the face, it would be easy.”

This book was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1967, and chronicles the military career of Thomas Fairfax and the fate of his family during the civil war. A theme Elizabeth had already visited in The White Witch.

But a deeper connection to Elizabeth’s work is the significance that the herb of grace, or rue has for the Fairfax family.

Anne Fairfax is waiting to meet her husband on a brief visit from the fighting in a dark, disused chapel. She is anxious, grieving the death of her youngest child  and restless, knowing that her husband has never loved her as she has him. She takes comfort from the ancient preaching cross that is part of the chapel, its rugged strength and symbolism.

“Somebody else, she realised suddenly, had felt the warmth as she felt it. for on the chest of rough black oak that stood against the wall below it, an unknown hand had set a knot of blue flowers in an earthen cup. For Anne they rang a small silver note of memory. but it was a moment before she realised that the flower was rue. The Herb of Grace. The Herb of Grace springing from the ruins among which the wild white unicorn trampled with his proud shining hooves; Herb of Grace set here at the foot of the old preaching cross that was the living heart of the besieged church, as though for a statement of faith.”
(Rider of the White Horse Rosemary Sutcliff)

This book contains many of the themes we have come to recognise in Elizabeth’s books, dealing with unrequited love, faith and family in a way that is familiar to readers of her work.

That they read each others work and seemed to have been inspired and enlightened by them is obvious.  Elizabeth admires Rosemary’s ability to map battle scenes, a prospect she admits to finding difficult. Although she has no trouble in mapping out the intimate worlds her families inhabit. I’m sure Rosemary found the emotional depth Elizabeth gave to her characters something that commanded respect.

It is tempting to think that the symbolism of the blue flowered rue in Elizabeth’s book “The Herb of Grace” slipped into Rosemary’s unconscious to emerge years later as a valuable motif in her civil war novel.

Elizabeth also wrote promotional pieces for Rosemary’s excellent Arthurian epic “Sword at Sunset”, in which she praises Rosemary for so identifying with the characters that “the distant time, so difficult for many of us to realise, glows with present reality.”

At this time of fire light and lengthening evenings, find companionship, open a good book and reacquaint yourself with old friends or make some knew ones by exploring one of Elizabeth’s worlds.

 

 

 

 

 

Last of the Summer Sun

This wonderful old photograph of Keyhaven with the boats at low tide was sent to me by Marion Sheath, a long time supporter of the website. It shows the river Beaulieu at low tide with all the sail boats at rest, the white wings of their sails furled. When we visited Buckler’s Hard and the surrounding area I looked for the precise site of Damerosehay, but was unable to locate it. Harewood House, the inspiration for Damerosehay had been knocked down and redeveloped many years before.

We took a trip on the river, on a boat we had all to ourselves in the wet grey morning and we passed many a house covered with wisteria and vines who’s gardens ran down to the river. But inland the woods hid any house that might have been. Perhaps it is as well that the house is ephemeral, a place of the spirit and imagination, where anyone can find healing and rest. The Bird in The Tree is a favourite autumnal read.

Photograph of Harewood House, Elizabeth’s spiritual retreat and the inspiration for The Eliot Trilogy.

The Bird

I have grown tired of sorrow and human tears;
Life is a dream in the night, a fear among fears,
A naked runner lost in a storm of spears.

I have grown tired of rapture and love’s desire;
love is a flaming heart, and it’s flames aspire
Till they cloud the soul in the smoke of a windy fire…..

Arthur Symons

As the sun slips further down the sky and autumn begins its run through the woods, which of Elizabeth’s books do you chose for company?

 

 

 

Being Inspired

One of the many gifts that Elizabeth has bequeathed to us is the desire to make a collection of “little things” such as cousin Mary makes in The Scent of Water.

I have a collection myself, some inherited, some given as gifts, others found by browsing second hand and junk shops. They don’t live together, but have found their own niches in our home.

This little cat came from my husband’s childhood home, and is currently, like most cats , enjoying a patch of sunshine. A bronze boxing hare stands on the frame of an ink drawing of a Hare caught hiding in a Welsh cwm. An owl blinks down from a beam.

After my last post, Jana Jopson got in touch with a selection of photos and stories about her own collection, so that she could share them with other readers and collectors.

The following is taken from her email to the group:

“The collection is a work in progress, some arrive as gifts and some I find.  I imagine it will continue to evolve.  It lives in a glass-fronted bookcase on the shelf with all of my Elizabeth Goudge books and warms my heart whenever I see it.

The top shelf holds small rabbits, the smallest being made of brass and only 3/4 of an inch in length.  I appreciate rabbits of all sorts, in nature, story, and myth.

  • Second shelf includes a handmade clay squirrel (winsome and devious creatures!), a bluebird of happiness, and a sea turtle (another animal that has my admiration).
  • The bottom shelf has a figure of collie dog because I couldn’t find a Shetland Sheepdog (I’ve been companion to three), and a wild duck figure purchased for me by my father at an outdoor fair decades ago
My kindred spirit friend and I once saw a tiny coach-and-six with an elegant woman inside in a display cabinet at an antiques shop.  When we went back the next time, it was gone and we still say one of us should have purchased it.  I have had tiny tea sets but they have gone into shadow box creations rather than my tiny things collection, but I do watch for one made of blue glass.”
I wonder if we will be able to see some of her intriguing “shadow box creations” they sound wonderful.
I know very little about Elizabeth’s collection, beyond knowing that they still exist. Some pieces may have come from Guernsey where her Mother lived, like this exquisite silver writing desk, which currently belongs to the family of the late poet Anne Lewis-Smith who was Elizabeth’s neighbour in Dog Lane.
The value of any collection for me and I suspect for others who collect too, is the connections and tales the objects tell.
If you too collect and would like to share, we would love to know about your favourite “little things.”

 

 

 

 

Charms for lost Serenity

“Never have we longed for peace as we do now, when war has become an obscene horror worse than any imaginable storm, and noise and confusion so invade cities and homes that we are in danger of having our very minds and souls battered to a uniform pulp.”
( Book of Peace 1968)

So wrote Elizabeth Goudge in the preface to her collection of poetry “A Book of Peace.” published in 1968. They apply to the world we inhabit today. I had turned to my collection of Elizabeth’s anthologies, because of an email I had received about them.

There are books in any personal collection which speak to the owner and this is one of my great books. It is a 1st edition American copy, published by Coward McCann and signed by the author. The dedication is to Mary McMaster of the Community of St Luke dated February 1975. The cover is beautifully unstated, a blue background with a sunflower.

Inside was this slip offering a protection for the book on its journey from America to my bookshelf in England. It also contains a letter written to me by Sylvia Gower, the author of “The World of Elizabeth Goudge” and a photograph of Elizabeth sitting on Froinga’s well in her garden at Rose Cottage. It has thick creamy pages which appear to have been hand cut. All perfectly valid reasons for it being an important book to me. But the real and most compelling reasons are the poems it contains, the writers and poets she introduces me to and the voice of Elizabeth, gentle, lucid, speaking to me through her choices.