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These I love...

This is to be one of my favourite poems, and it’s in the public domain and I reread it over Easter so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s called ‘The Great Lover’ and it’s written by Rupert Brooke, who lived from 1887-1915, so he was only 28 when he died in World War 1. Imagine what he could have written if we’d stopped fighting stupid wars!

“I have been so great a lover: filled my days

So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise,

The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,

Desire illimitable, and still content,

And all dear names men use, to cheat despair,

For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear

Our hearts at random down the dark of life.

Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife

Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,

My night shall be remembered for a star

That outshone all the suns of all men's days.

Shall I not crown them with immortal praise

Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me

High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see

The inenarrable godhead of delight?

Love is a flame:—we have beaconed the world's night.

A city:—and we have built it, these and I.

An emperor:—we have taught the world to die.

So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,

And the high cause of Love's magnificence,

And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names

Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,

And set them as a banner, that men may know,

To dare the generations, burn, and blow

Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming . . . .

These I have loved:

White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,

Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;

Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust

Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;

Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;

And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;

And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,

Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;

Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon

Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss

Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is

Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen

Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

The benison of hot water; furs to touch;

The good smell of old clothes; and other such—

The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,

Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers

About dead leaves and last year's ferns. . . .

Dear names,

And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;

Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;

Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;

Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain,

Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;

Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam

That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;

And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold

Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;

Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;

And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;

And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;—

All these have been my loves. And these shall pass,

Whatever passes not, in the great hour,

Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power

To hold them with me through the gate of Death.

They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,

Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust

And sacramented covenant to the dust.

——Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,

And give what's left of love again, and make

New friends, now strangers. . . .

But the best I've known

Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown

About the winds of the world, and fades from brains

Of living men, and dies.

Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again

This one last gift I give: that after men

Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed,

Praise you, 'All these were lovely'; say, 'He loved.’ “

I’ve always loved poetry, and this is one of the poems that has shaped my life and brought me comfort in dark times. I think it's the way he was writing so passionately in the trenches, and, I hope, finding escape for a little while, just as I do in writing and reading and I hope you do the same that affects me so much. So my own current little list of things that are lovely and that I love includes

Walking in woods in the spring

Seeing the flowers come out after a grey winter

Airing out the house on a warm day

Seeing little sailboats and windsurfers going out to play in Poole Harbour after a winter shut up indoors.

That first day when you decide that you don’t need gloves when you go out. Then you don’t need a coat. Then the sock drawer stays closed.

The smell of fresh bread first thing in the morning

Laying a pretty table for breakfast early enough that you can pretend that someone else did it and you live in spoilt elegance.

Clean, freshly ironed pillowcases, even though I’m the one who does the ironing and changes them.

Clean nighties and pyjama after a hot bath or shower.

A line full of washing drying in the sunshine and gentle breeze

Apple blossom

Cherry blossom

Changing the loose covers in the living room and dressing the room with quilts that reflect the colours of spring

Having the windows flung wide open to let the clean air in, even if it is still cool.

What’s your little list? And dare I hope that it involves looking at the books that are newly out and on special offer this week?

On Thursday, Be Thankful You’re Living, publishes under my other name of Eleanor Neville. It’s set in the run up to World War Two, and introduces one of my favourite heroines, Jenny Stannard, a young woman who isn’t rebelling against femininity, but instead uses her skills to save a life, and changes her world forever in the process when she falls for Miles Kinsella after she finds him unconscious outside the door of her sleeping compartment. Getting him across Germany at a time when the Nazi’s are coming to power isn’t easy, but it’s simple compared to the trouble she finds herself in after that…

And on 99p in the UK and 99c in the US we have

Ravens Knowledge - Again under my Eleanor Neville name. It's part of the Shadows 2000 sequence and I enjoyed writing this cosy thriller about a former spy coming to terms with disability and the feisty hotel manager who gets herself into more trouble than ever before for two reasons. Firstly, because it let me move my then series hero and heroine into a new stage of my life and secondly because I wrote it at a time when I was increasingly disabled by rheumatoid arthritis. Thankfully, new drugs came along which control it far better now and I’ve won so much of it back after a lot of hard work, but I hope I got some of the sense of frustration when you struggle with things you one took for granted into this book.

And then there’s Vintage Girl Summer, written as Tia Brown and part of the Windy Bay series, which is froth and fun and happiness after shadows and a young woman coming to realise exactly how competent and capable she is when people stop seeing her as ‘Dis-Gracie’ because she doesn’t fit the mould. I love her as a heroine because she says what she thinks and she is a ray of sunshine. And, of course, she shares my love of vintage things.

So have a good week, and let me know about the things that you love, because it’s important that we remember them, isn’t it?

Today’s picture is of the little boats coming out to play in Poole Harbour after a winter out of the water. Watching them coming out of the boatyard at Turks Lane (no, I don’t know why it’s called that yet, but I shall!) was an utter joy because they reminded me of horses straining to run. Or dogs and children too, in that moment when they go joyously utterly mad because they’ve been cooped up indoors for too long. Here’s hoping that people on my side of the world soon get to do that and those of you who are heading for winter will snuggle in at the end of a good summer and enjoy your autumn and winter and all the indoor pleasures.


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