Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Three Cities of BellsThree Cities of Bells by Goudge, Elizabeth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is three books in one, (A City of Bells, Towers in the Mist, The Dean's Watch) each book about a cathedral town in England, set in either Edwardian or Elizabethan times. As historical fiction, it is filled with satisfying details on the daily life of the diffrent characters. There is also great insight into different human natures. Although showing its age by the moral attitudes, the assumption of differences based on social class, and the pat happy endings for so many characters, this is not always an undesirable thing in books, as with imagination we enter a world that is definitely different from our own, and that has much to teach us. Elizabeth Goudge is a writer who has a great gift in human insight and in language use.
P. 109: "Felicity chattered as a bird sings, joy being with her a thing that must be instantly expressed lest she burst, but Jocelyn did not speak, it being with him a thing that silenced."
P. 186: "As in all first intercourse between shy strangers each difficult sentence that they spoke seemed a rope flung across the chasm that separated them from each other."
P. 220: "...The cheerful comfortable view of those who have suffered...only in imagination."
P. 303: "The loveliest phrases are winged, and when the poet opens the door of the place where he put them he finds that the tiresome creatures have flown away."
P. 351: "A poem can be like two hands that lift you up and put you down in a new place. You look back with astonishment and find that because you have read a few lines on a printed page, or listened for a couple of minutes to a voice speaking, you have arrived at somewhere quite different."
P. 367: "They love indeed who quake to say they love."
P. 368: "(We forget) ...at midday when the sun is shining, that (we have) come from the dark and (are) journeying towards the dark again."
P. 454: "He was afraid. It was suddenly dreadful to him that we do not know to what we travel; only that the way is like an increasingly darkening tunnel. At the heart of it the blackness is like pitch. We must pass through it, there is no escape, and there is no one to come back and tell us what it is like in that darkness, or what it is like beyond."
P. 536: "All of them...had seemed to live in a world where compassion was not necessary. He saw now that it was the very first necessity, always and everywhere, and should flow between all men, always and everywhere. Men lived with their nearest and dearest and knew little of them, and strangers passing by in the street were as impersonal as trees walking, and all the while there was this deep affinity, for all men suffered."
P. 567, about daydreaming: "A drifting mood, encouraged, is like a current at sea. You have no control over where it will take you."

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Saddest when happiness has been here
I hear grief whisper in my ear,
"yes, you have much, but used to have more,"
and I follow my grief out the half-closed door.
Darkest when just now the light has been
glowing the world with a warming sheen,
shadows gather and welcome me in
and all I remember is what could have been.
Lamest just after a joyful leap,
tiredest after a restful sleep,
silence and pain where the sweet music played,
absence where love's hand of healing was laid.

To walk in a winter dead garden,
kicking the wind blown leaves,
snapping the dried up stems and vines,
unripened tomatoes deflated and flat,
defeated chard and persevering carrots,
the last beans hardened, unpicked but stoic,
is to look past the present, and plan next year's garden.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Late at night, while reading Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge, published in 1935, I came across these words after a death scene: "Spiritus redeat ad Deum, qui dedit illum". After a computer translation search I found Ecclesiastes 12:7--"...and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." (NIV) "The body is put back in the same ground it came from. The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it." (The Message) 
It was a case of old familiar words coming alive in a new light, to renew a failing hope.

Though I cannot now see past the pain
for tears and blood that flow
there is a place deep in myself
hope flickers, soft aglow.
A dull star, but a shining,
expected more than seen,
but the season comes when star will rise,
more bright than pain has been.
Our small lives to compassion
God entered the world God made;
our fleeting joys, our crushing sorrows,
are blessed by The Maker Who Stayed.
Then hope in splendid tendrils
let grow in aching breast:
our breath returns but whence it came
when we return to dust.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I, with my soul on its sickbed,
my faith in a full-body cast
could not reach for the hem of a garment
even if the world's Lord were to pass.
But I see no sign of His coming;
more likely I will go there.
Isn't that what all sickness will lead to?
Isn't dying the only real cure?