Today, as so often happens, I had finished all my library books so I trawled along my shelves to look for something to read. Often I choose one of my travel books; now that I can't travel so far I enjoy reading about other people doing it; second-hand travel is better than no travel at all.
But today I chose that other good old standby - one of the many books I possess written by Ronald Blythe. I am a great admirer of this Suffolk /Essex border writer, whose books are a mixture of notes about natural history, religious writing, interesting facts about all kinds of things. Although I am not at all religious I even get pleasure from reading these bits as he does throw new light on the topic.I only read for about half an hour but long enough to give me food for thought.
He talks about depressing news every day on radio and television; about wars and rumours of wars; about immigrants; about fatal accidents; about drugs; about murders (these being the topics covered on the 6pm television news this evening). And he suggests that these things are nothing new - things have always been thus but only in the days since the Second World War has
communication been such that we all know about it.
Imagine the news on television at the time of the Crusades (,there was plenty of cruelty in the name of religion there), or the mass exodus of people in the days of King Herod. Or imagine seeing the beheading of Anne Boleyn played out on television or the Charge of the Light Brigade.
But of course, what has also changed is the ferocity of the weapons used, the mass killing power, the air power, the atomic weapons.
Nevertheless, it is a point worth thinking about.
And taking this time thing from another angle, he also speaks of how much further we travel these days and how communication has changed out of all recognition. Even a hundred years ago
ordinary folk usually lived in close proximity to other members of their family (apart from the brave souls who set out for the New World). Anyone who lived 'away' could bank on rarely seeing their relatives.It did become easier with the arrival of the train.
Blythe suggests we read W H Auden's 'There is no change of place'
(not easy to understand but then poetry is never easy is it?). As Fuller says in the crit the poem is based on the paradox that improved communications have brought about a state whereby we all find it easier to communicate at a distance. As I am sure you know by now, I am a poetry lover. I have just downloaded the poem from the internet and shall sit and read it a few times in an effort to understand what Auden is saying. Then I shall read it at our Poetry afternoon tomorrow. A good poem says a lot in few words.
Finally, if you want a treat, go to Thelma's (North Stoke on my sidebar) site to see Eric Ravillious's beautiful harvest painting. For, like poetry, art says a lot in no words at all, and his painting of harvest in the early part of the twentieth century says so much - how harvesting has changed, what beauty there is to be seen in a simple country scene, and above all the tragedy of a young life cut short by war (Ravillious was killed in 1942). The image of such a peaceful harvest scene contrasted with the image one conjures up of an artist cut short in his prime is worth a thousand words.