19 August 2014

Where lies the Land

Hanna’s daughters and I met today in her house to discuss various matters that need our attention. At last all the large care products had been collected so we were able to quickly put the sitting room, more or less the way it always was. Now one can sit there and just imagine Hanna is in the kitchen making us some tea.

What to do with all the lovely nick knacks Hanna collected over the years? Many were of our shared journeys, some have only a sentimental value, but others are worth money to a collector.  And so many books. My humble abode will not take more books, but I was pleasantly surprised  when looking at one shelf I discovered a lovely 1973 Folio Society edition of “Poems by William Wordsworth”, tucked away behind other books. It is beautifully bound with a leather spine and sits in a nice cardboard sleeve.

I always have space for a book of poems, especially one so nice as this, so I took it and discovered it was a gift to Hanna from her Brother-in-Law in 1985 on her visit to London after her husband had died. I met this nice man during one of our later visits to London in the 90’s.

What was even more interesting was that there were a couple of bookmarks marking poems which must have interested Hanna. The first  one I looked at was entitled:

“Where lies the Land”

Where lies the Land to which yon ship must go?
Fresh as a lark mounting at break of day,
Festively she puts forth in trim array;
Is she for tropic suns, or polar snow?
What boots the enquiry? – Neither friend nor foe
She cares for; let her travel where she may,
She finds familiar names, a beaten way
Ever before her, and a wind to blow.
Yet still I ask what haven is her mark?
And, almost as it was when ships were rare,
(From time to time, like Pilgrims, here and there
Crossing the waters) doubt, and something dark,
Of the old Sea some reverential fear,
Is with me at thy farewell, joyous Bark!

Since I have no idea when she first read this poem, or why she marked it, to me it was a little allegorical. One could read it any number of ways. Whither is Hanna’s soul now sailing, for there was in me a reverential fear at her farewell and she did put forth in trim array at her funeral. Or is it my restless soul that is meant and where will the winds now blow me? That the word “pilgrim” appears in the poem is that also a sign that I am right in my intentions?

Am I an incurable romantic to search for meaning in such things? Hanna might say, “No just a foolish one.”