Sunday, August 7, 2011


East Coker was a special place for both Cathy and me, and since I had other photos which I thought worth posting, I did the picture essay as a companion piece to my earlier post.

Neither of my posts are quite what I wanted them to be, but they will have to do. Eliot does not find satisfaction in his poetic words, so who am I to complain if my poor efforts seem lacking to me?

St Michael's showing the clock

Baptismal font

St Michael's and scattered gravestones

The poetry bench and more gravestones

Stained glass window in St Michael's

And another

Cathy's beloved cows in the field next to the churchyard (Sorry I didn't do better by your cows, Cathy.)

Thatched cottage near the Helyar Arms

Planting behind the Helyar Arms

The dining room at the Helyar Arms

Since T. S. Eliot's poem played a great part in making our visit special, I leave you with another quote from 'East Coker':
That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes. There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

UPDATE: The church with the tower, which I had originally pictured, was not St Michael's Church. I corrected the post. Thanks to Lapin for calling my attention to the mistake.


  1. St Michael's seems to have shed a spire between your two excellent posts.

  2. Lapin, the spire is very much there; it's simply out of the picture. It would be over to the right.

  3. If a certain person were online this week he would I suppose try to interpolate a joke at this point blaming the disappearance of the spire on Mimi.

    It is such a beautiful old church and I was glad it was open - it didn't look it when we first approached. The cows look lovely, if far away :)

    The food at the Helyar Arms is very good. I'd like to go back there at some stage - I do think Somerset is pretty.

  4. The church also has a plaque dedicated to William Dampier, the sea captain and buccaneer, who was born in East Coker in 1651. Which was interestin'.

  5. And it had an effigy of a woman from the 1300s, which had been on her grave but for some reason wasn't any more, and was propped up on the church wall instead.

  6. Cathy, St Michael's is lovely and interesting in so many ways. There is so much more I wanted to say about our short visit to East Coker and to the church, but I have only so much time. Thank you for your comments, which are a welcome addition to the posts, as whiteycat has already mentioned.

  7. I'm not trying to add to your excellent posts, Mimi - just paying tribute to the experience, I guess. It's a shame we couldn't have gone to a service there, in a way.

  8. makes me want to go!

    My neighbor is currently in London --she said it was $14 to buy a beer at the pub... really?

    wv: annomals
    must be the cows outstanding in their field

  9. Cathy, please do add to my posts. You were there. Your comments only enhance my blog.

    margaret, I don't drink beer, so I wouldn't know the price, but it sounds as though a glass of wine might be cheaper.

  10. "hebetude"? O_o

    [I think the 1st and 7th pic are the same window, same shot, BTW.]

    Lovely pics again!

    Love the clock, and the font, esp.

    Is the Helyar Arms a place for pint-hoisting? ;-p

    Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
    And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us
    Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
    Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?

    This seems esp. poignant w/ you quoting it, {{{Mimi}}}

    "Cathy's beloved cows"

    Does this mean I need to give up beef for you, cher? ;-)

  11. JCF, thanks. I fixed the pics. I have enough photos of stained glass windows not to post duplicates.

    This seems esp. poignant w/ you quoting it, {{{Mimi}}}

    Indeed, it is.

  12. ooo no, JCF - I love a good steak :) - Mimi will attest to that.

    Re the price of beer in London, Margaret, that may well be tho it probably depends what pub you go to. I don't like beer so I don't ever buy it. I go for g&t's or wine too. I had a decent glass of sauvignon yesterday for £3.50 in central London - not so bad.

  13. Actually, $14 really sounds quite expensive for a beer.

  14. I love a good steak :) - Mimi will attest to that.

    Cathy, I was gonna, but I thought I'd let you speak for yourself.


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