Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Learning "were" is as good as "have been"






But I had never seen the Solway.
And then, resting on a rocky
ledge above Crag Lough, I sudden-
ly realized, what I had long con-
cealed from myself, that I was ill
.. and so home, and spent a week
in bed, and read Guy Mannering again.

But after I had been up two days
(for I was determined to go), I was
taken to Blindburn in the Cheviots,
north-west of Alwinton, and after
lunch I walked, over the old Roman
Dere Street, down the Cottonhope
Burn to Byrness, over the fells by
the Blackhope Nick to Kielder ..
on again next morning up the Lewis-
burn valley, and over to Becastle
Fells, a killing struggle, over peat-
hags and bogs and clefts, making ev-
ery mile as two; and at last, from
Sighty Crag, I saw it, a sheet of
twinkling water and a long reach of
desolate sand, the Solway Firth;






















and at the same time I heard the
bubbling of a spring nearby among
the moss, and slaked my thirst
with its cool dark water; for my
throat was parched with the long
weary climb. After which I felt 
as I daresay the Israelites felt
when, from a hilltop, they viewed
the Promised Land, that it wasn't
very different from anywhere else;
still, it was something to be out 
of the wilderness.





                  .. and dropping lightly down the
                  fells I met a shepherd, the first 
                  human face I had seen for eighteen 
                  miles, and so to Bewcastle, where 
                  I found, against all probability
                  (for it is a lonely steading) an-
                  other man, in the middle of a field,
                  delivering lime from a lorry. So I
                  asked him for a lift, and he took 
                  me to Brampton, whence I gradually
                  found my way home. He drove a lime-
                  lorry now, he said, but he had once
                  lived far away in Northumberland,
                  and had spent his childhood in the
                  village of Powburn, where his uncle
                  was the policeman. So I told him
                  that I had been born in the parish
                  of Powburn, in Glanton, and from
                  that time we were intimate friends.
























Lord Dacre of Glanton
The Solway Firth
  [fragment]
June, 1945
The Wartime Journals
Richard Davenport-Hines
  editor
op. cit.




2 comments:

  1. I have taken that walk or, at least, something similar and as healing. Walking on the moors, over dry-stone walls hundreds of years old, up and down the fells, and at the end of the walk feeling as bent by the wind as the trees one shelters under.

    A lovely piece of writing on the part of Hugh Trevor-Roper and very moving to find it's for me. Thank you, Laurent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sustaining our memory of important, beautiful ways, and 'though strenuous, I hope it will long give you pleasure, as it does for us.

      Delete

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