Thursday, 8 October 2015


Today is national Poetry Day.  Here is one of my favourites:

Ode on Solitude

Happy the man, whose wish and care
   A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
                            In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
   Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
                            In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
   Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
                            Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
   Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
                            With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
   Thus unlamented let me die.
Steal from the world, and not a stone
                            Tell where I lie.

Alexander Pope 1688–1744

Although I originally learned this poem, or parts of it, to be able to show, in essays, examinations, that Pope did  not always write in iambic pentameters, I'm very fond of some, though not all (I should not want to die unlamented) of its sentiment 

One of my most effective teachers was the Bradford historian Jack Reynolds.  He spent his entire career in this area and was highly respected by all who came into contact with him, and particularly those he taught.  This is in great contrast to those professionals who whiz around from job to job, often moving on to the next before the mess they've made in the last one becomes apparent.  More to be pitied are those unfortunates who flit around the world trying to leave themselves behind.

I suspect that today we do not esteem sufficiently those who confine themselves to " a few paternal acres. "  We should.

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