Friday, 26 February 2010

February blues

It's been a long, cold and now wet winter. I'm sick of it. We had the roof leak last week - water streaming down the walls, followed by a bill and then the inevitable tussle with the insurers to look forward to. And we've had another extended bout of precipitation since yesterday afternoon, the third this week (have you noticed how nothing good comes in a 'bout'? Does it imply something you bow down before?).

It's got so that my eldest son seems to have developed a mild obsession with Australia, whither some friends of his from nursery returned last year. At Christmas I overheard an older playmate of his ask him why he always went on about the place. He's still keen. It's become a fabled wonderland of sunshine and kangaroos, where shorts can be worn all year round. I can't say I blame him.

Comfort, like everything else this time of year, is thin on the ground. But, for what it's worth, you can almost always find a miserable echo of your feelings in Hardy's poetry. Unsurprisingly, feeling glum in February is one of his topics.

Of course, Hardy manages to outdo us in his glumness: by the end he's introduced to an already downbeat month the welcome subjects of death, loss and mortality. But it's art - if we can't be happy, let's be sublime.

AT MIDDLE-FIELD GATE IN FEBRUARY 
The bars are thick with drops that show
As they gather themselves from the fog
Like silver buttons ranged in a row,
And as evenly spaced as if measured,
They fall at the feeblest jog. 
They load the leafless hedge hard by,
And the blades of last year's grass
While the fallow ploughland turned up nigh
In raw rolls, clammy and clogging lie—
Too clogging for feet to pass. 
How dry it was on a far-back day
When straws hung the hedge and around,
When amid the sheaves in amorous play
In curtained bonnets and light array
Bloomed a bevy now underground!

Almost makes you want to give Ray Gosling a call.

18 comments:

worm said...

rombouts coffee? that's not too bad
Djibouti must be quite warm at this time of year

if it makes you feel any better, the crocuses in our garden are just beginning to open, so something good must be in motion.

I'm just worried that the weathers going to be like this for my wedding next weekend

Gadjo Dilo said...

To wean your son off his obsession I recommend a funnel-web spider under his bed, a couple of box jellyfish in the bath, and a DVD of Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (which was a bit of a disappointment).

The poem's lovely - I don't really see why Hardy added those last 2 words of it!

Recusant said...

Welcome to the estate of marriage, Worm. I hope it all goes swimmingly next weekend, in the metaphorical rather than literal sense.

Brit said...

We do live in a Kingdom of Rains, where Royalty comes in gangs. But at least February is short - it'll be March on Monday.

Crisp with a weakish sun here in the westcountry, an overnight downpour forecast then pissing it all weekend.

Gaw said...

Worm: Sorry to depress you. Worms, of course, are forced to surface during rain. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Gadjo: Ah, good old aversion therapy. Perhaps I should simply hit him with a walking stick whenever the word 'Australia' passes his lips? (Only joking! Not funny? Oh well)

Recusant: Seconded.

Brit: That was such an amazing script. So good it sounds as if it's full of quotes itself.

dearieme said...

http://www.nhbs.com/venomous_creatures_of_australia_tefno_98176.html

Gaw said...

Why so keen to destroy a young boy's dreams?

He's got the rest of his life to look down on Australia (only feeling grudging respect when they thrash us in some ball game).

jonathan law said...

Gadjo, it's hardly an exaggeration to say that every half-decent Hardy poem ends with a nod, at least, to folks underground. Frankly, you'd miss it if it wasn't there. Viz the very great "During Wind and Rain" -- a series of bright, blithe, bustly scenes from family life ending with the stark: "Down their carved names the rain drops plough."

Don't know where I read it, but there's a story of some solemn literary pilgrim turning up at Max Gate, Hardy's horrid self-built villa on the edge of Dorchester, only to be greeted by sounds of helpless, almost unseemly, mirth coming from the great man's study. "Ah yes," says Mrs H. in a whisper, "Mr Hardy is writing a particularly miserable poem this morning."

Gaw said...

I love that line, Jonathan: 'Down their carved names the raindrops plough'. Emblematic of the oeuvre.

His miserabilism is so consistent and thoroughgoing it does become rather ironic. I'd never wondered whether this was actually meant.

dearieme said...

"Why so keen to destroy a young boy's dreams?" I'm not - I'm suggesting that you read that book before you take him there. You are going to take him there, aren't you?

Gaw said...

God no. It's full of poisonous creepy-crawlies. And has no culture except for sport, etc, etc. Better keep it unsullied dream.

Brit said...

And everything not covered in poisonous creepy-crawlies is on fire.

worm said...

...and thats before you even take into account the skin cancer

Recusant said...

a slightly patrician ex-boss of mine referred to it as the "world's largest Sergeant's Mess".

malty said...

It's rumoured that the DIY death clinic in Switzerland has the audiobook of Jude the Obscure piped around the joint, in seven languages.
Gaw, I would suggest that Gaw junior needs a distraction, old enough for the burdz yet?

worm said...

thanks for the wedding wishes Recusant and Gaw! :D

Dave Lull said...

It's February again; it must be time for another dose of Hardy:

'God’s “unweeting way”; a few notes on Hardy.'

http://eraofcasualfridays.net/2011/02/04/gods-unweeting-way-a-few-notes-on-hardy/

Gaw said...

Thanks Dave! Interesting piece.