I took my regular five o’clock walk at three o’clock on Christmas Eve. It was going to become very, very cold any later than that and, besides, the sun was shining and I could enjoy the views properly as I walked.
One of my favourite views is looking to the West from the top of the Village Green, and a little beyond there, to the distant ridge a few miles away. Its moods change with the seasons, the weather and the time of day.
This afternoon, there was a pale-blue hazy look to the view. Straightway, the phrase “blue remembered hills” leapt to mind. I thought on the collection by A. E. Housman called “A Shropshire Lad”. Every verse tells of a memory from long ago; from times which even Housman would not remember.
And I said aloud “Housman, how you must have felt the agony as you wrote those verses”.
Not all the poems in the collection are Shropshire based. Bredon Hill, for instance, is in Herefordshire. But the world of which the poet wrote was that of a similar culture wherever one went in those times in rural England, certainly along the Welsh Marches. Only the local accent and dialect words would be different.
I could not read serious poetry for many moons, even after I’d come out of my years of depression. I still have to be careful, especially when what I read hits chords of sad memory in my heart.
Poets, composers, true artists of all kinds must have a hint of depression in their natures.
The snow coating the local scene will go; the greening of Nature will come; the hot Summer sun will cheer our spirits. The memory of those “blue remembered hills” about which Housman wrote – and which I have visited from time to time – will stay with me.
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