Saturday, 25 August 2012

A tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words

Tewkesbury Road
It is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,
Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why;
Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air,
Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.

And to halt at the chattering brook, in a tall green fern at the brink
Where the harebell grows, and the gorse, and the foxgloves purple and white;
Where the shifty-eyed delicate deer troop down to the brook to drink
When the stars are mellow and large at the coming on of the night.

O, to feel the beat of the rain, and the homely smell of the earth,
Is a tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words;
And the blessed green comely meadows are all a-ripple with mirth
At the noise of the lambs at play and the dear wild cry of the birds.

I can attest to the truth of this joy-filled John Masefield poem from personal experience over the past few days (my own road led to Evesham, not Tewkesbury, but it's the same general area!). Masefield, who spent his teenage years as a sailor, was a poet of voyages in all forms - a lover of the sea, but also of travellers and wanderers and roads (this poem of his seems to hint at a motivation behind his interest).

Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Vagabond' makes a fitting accompaniment to 'Tewkesbury Road':

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