For our trip to the West Country of England, I put the planning entirely in Cathy's hands, and she did a fine job of it, especially in arranging for us to spend the latter part of a day and a night in East Coker, a charming village in South Somerset, with one lovely thatched cottage upon another, built of local Ham stone similar to what you see in the pictures above and below.
The three photos below are of the cottage garden.
Guardian of possible plans to build a large housing estate which would quadruple the population of the village and occupy what is presently farm land.
Cathy and I stayed at the Helyar Arms, which was only a short walk from St Michael's church, pictured below. The B&B was quite comfortable, and we enjoyed a tasty dinner there after our poetic session in the churchyard. I ordered duck, which was very good, but I can't remember what Cathy ordered. I had yummy banana and butterscotch crème brûlée with lavender shortbread for dessert.
My everlasting thanks to Cathy for taking along a copy of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, from which we read 'East Coker' as we sat on a bench in St Michael's churchyard. We thought we should read the poem aloud, but neither of us believed ourselves to be good readers of poetry, so we read the poem silently. Finally, I thought we should have at least part of the poem read aloud, so I plunged in and read the final stanza.
The final words from 'East Coker'
Home is where one starts from. As we grow olderEliot's ashes rest in St Michael's church, and his spirit is present in the church and the surrounding land and village. Tears came to my eyes more than once as I wrote the post and looked at the pictures and reread the poem.
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
Photo of St Michael's from Wikipedia.