Autumn is falling – Leaving London   #leaves #autumn #London #GreenPark #October

Between the green stretches of Hyde Park and St James Park in the city of Westminster lies Green Park, 47 acres of public strolling grounds.  

It is both a lovely green space in the heart of London, and the lungs of the city too, providing fresh country air – perfect for escaping Piccadilly madness.

There are no lakes, no playgrounds, no buildings and no planted beds (so no king may gather flowers for his mistress). There are 3 memorials.

Here is a quick history of the area:

In the 17th century it was a swampy burial ground for lepers.

In 1668 the area was part of the Poulteney family estate, who then surrendered the bulk of land to King Charles II, thus becoming a Royal Park, ‘Upper St James Park.’  Charles, in his turn, enclosed the parkland with a brick wall and built an icehouse for cold summer drinks (as one does).

By the 18th century it was an isolated area, haunted by thieves and highwaymen. Horace Walpole, writer and politician, was robbed here.

In the 18th-19th centuries there were public firework displays (in 1749 Handel composed music specifically for a Green Park display) and ballooning (up, up and away) and even duelling (sword fights).

In 1820 John Nash landscaped the area and in June 1840 from Constitutional Hill, Edward Oxford made an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria.

For me, in 2017Green Park (also a tube stop) is an excellent in-between walking route from Berkeley Square to Victoria, early in the morning when the squirrels are busy burying conkers and tourists are making their way to Buckingham Palace.

The plain trees are beginning to shred, scattering brown and yellow crinkly leaves along the pathway; there is an earthy dampness, a grey chill and a pale light filtering through the flaking canopy.  

Autumn is now the season to go strolling.  

Green Park offers everyone a green and pleasant land in London Town.

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A pea-green boat, a runcible spoon & a lot of nonsense #EdwardLear #poetry #limericks #London #May #nonsense #morals

Poet, Edward Lear, was born in London of Danish ancestry on 12th May, 1812. 
His ‘Book of Nonsense’ was published anonymously in 1846 and holds his most famous poem ‘The Owl & The Pussy-cat’ as well as over 100 limericks.

From the age of six he suffered from epilepsy and asthma. Despite being a sufferer he was still able to write creatively with a unique humour and to decorate his rhymes with fanciful illustrations.

His favourite nonsense word which was his own ‘sweet’ (‘they took some honey and plenty of money’) creation was ‘runcible spoon’ from ‘The Owl & The Pussy-cat.’  The word runcible appeared many times in his writing, defining different objects.

runcible cat’ 

runcible hat’

runcible goose’

As I tap away, scribing this tidy little blog, my iPad already dislikes the word, runcible, stating firmly ‘No replacement found.’ 

Moral 1: don’t let computers say to you, ‘wrong word, stupid.’ How are we to produce anything new, weird and beyond the ordinary?

Moral 2: don’t let being a sufferer stop you from branching out beyond the ordinary and making something work for you.

Since the 1920s dictionaries have come to define the term ‘runcible spoon’ as a fork-like utensil with two broad prongs and one sharp curved prong. 

A grapefruit spoon? A pickles or hors d’oeuvres spoon? Whatever your social habits, Edward Lear created spectacular vernacular.

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Lyrical Writer http://www.hastingsindependentpress.co.uk

A celebration for every nation! #NewYear #2017 #celebration #fun #friends #resolutions

Welcome in the New Year 2017 with cheer and optimism.

Make jolly and mend.

Make resolutions and friends.

Recover and recharge.

Feel fortunate and accentuate the positives.

Wherever in the world you roam.

“Cheers! Chin, chin! Salute! Bottoms up! Sante!”

Happy-day & Good-night…

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Cordial Cards   #Christmas #cards #celebration #message #post #ChristmasWindows #season

This must be the most busiest time of year for the post. Red and green Christmas cards dropped into post-boxes and post-offices, all ready to be distributed near or far. Some with long annual messages, some with short friendly catch-ups, some just a name and some just a corporate slogan.  
Pretty pictures, holy pictures, poems and phrases; charity collections, carol singers and chestnut roasters. Everyone is coming out into the streets, spreading cheer, goodwill and celebration, each in their own way.

Christmas lights and Christmas windows beaming bright and bringing smiles.

Wherever you are in the world this is the season that brings people closer together more than any other annual, worldwide event. 

Yes, there can be difficulties and yes there may be difficulties. Get an address and write a card and make a start at the end of the year.
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A…Attention! #London #facts #travel #TheQueen #British #soldiers #summer #holiday #vacation #Wimbledon #AndyMurray

Anyone taking a holiday excursion, a summer vacation, a trip, a journey, or a city break to London, may wish to swat up on soldier (Guard) uniforms to impress fellow travel companions. It’s a little research that goes beyond the average guide book; it may even surprise the fore-said friends of your exceptional ability to record such interesting and diverse British facts. Let’s hope they pay attention instead or telling you to button up.

How about some of these as additional London facts.

1. There is always a flag flying above Buckingham Palace, but it is only the Royal Standard that indicates the Queen is in residence.

2. All swans in the Royal Parks are owned by the Queen.

3. Yesterday, The Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2016 (grass court) saw Scottish-born Andy Murray, cap and shorts, take the trophy for a second time.  If he had chosen to be a soldier he would be number 3 in the line-up. Buttons in threes. No plume.

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April awakens #April #poetry #Browning #Spring #travel

‘O to be in England

Now that April’s there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning unaware,

That the lowest boughs and brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bold are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!’

First verse of ‘Home-thoughts, from abroad’ by Robert Browning.

This poem was probably written at home in England in April 1845 when Browning was recalling his second tour of Italy

I am currently in South-West France, recalling and reviewing Spring photographs of England. This photo was taken not far from the Marylebone church in which Browning married Elizabeth Barrett in 1846: 170 years ago.  

The tree is a pink-cupped magnolia blossoming against a cobalt-blue sky.

This world is waking up from its winter slumber. Time to spring into action.

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London plays host to golden daffodils #London #parks #poetry #flowers #daffodils

Here is a delightful photo of bright and breezy daffodil heads bringing colour to the Royal Parks of London.
In the UK one can witness daffodils as early as December (East Sussex) and as late as late May (Perthshire, Scotland).

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 more golden daffodils were planted in Green Park and here they are in their floral glory.  

William Wordsworth wrote in 1804 a classic poet’s dedication to this supremely beautiful spring flower, with its open trumpet, framed frilly petals and long firm stem.  Ahh silence is golden.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ was inspired by the daffodils on The Lakes in Grasmere which William’s sister Dorothy had described in her journal of April 1802. It must also be recognised that many of the lines were hers. “I never saw daffodils so beautiful,” wrote Dorothy.

Here is a snippet:

‘… all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’

‘… they stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.’

‘… a poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company.’

‘… they flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude ‘

(Wordsworth noted “the two best lines in it are by Dorothy”)

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills 

And dances with the daffodils.’

Every spring they rise again, a fitting metaphor for the symbol of Easter.

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Looking Rosy #poetry #roses #quotes #March #England #London #Shakespeare

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Act II, Scene II ‘Romeo & Juliet‘ by Shakespeare).
But I do particularly like ‘The Poet’s Wife’ (Auswhirl) grown by David Austin, English rose aficionado of Great Britain (see photo). This variety was introduced in 2014 and is the first yellow rose of his collection since the ‘Charles Darwin‘ of 2003.

‘Beautifully formed’ ‘Strong and unfading’ ‘Rich and Fruity’ 

Now is the time to start planting these beauties … there are some wonderful names to choose from. Take a stroll around Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, London and find hundreds of wonderfully named bedded buds (not yet in bloom, of course, but perfect in sunny June).

‘Why June is the time for a rose to bloom’

The rose is adored by poets from Robert Burns to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  

Who is this poet and who is his wife? 

Ans. ‘Naturally rounded’ and a very fine inspiration for his work, perhaps.

Get searching and share your favourite named roses…
(See previous blog Captivated by Roses -November 2015).

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Thumbs up: New release on YouTube  #poetry #TobiasMenzies #YouTube #video

Hello, Greetings and new News

I have just released a Poetry Video on YouTube, a lovely one minute, calming piece.

The poem is ‘Wanderings’ by me, Kate Barnwell and it is beautifully read by actor Tobias Menzies, whose birthday – quite incidentally – it happens to be today: 7th March.  

Tobias is currently performing at The Almeida Theatre, London in Chekov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ and in the BBC John Le Carre drama, ‘The Night Manager’ (if you are in America, or outside the UK look out for this fantastic 6 part series of espionage, intrigue, plots and swirling locations).

Congratulations all round.

The poem was recorded at Essential Music Studios in Soho, London and features in my second collection book:

 ‘Ever Truly Yours – Reflections on Love’.

It is also available to hear and view in the POEMS section http://www.katebarnwell.com alongside other read works and one other video, ‘In Fields’.

I appreciate the kind comments that have come my way, particularly in a world so competitive, critical, sarcastic and cruel, should it choose to be so. Lovely people unite!

On a happy note follow the LINK


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‘Fare thee well!’ #travel #song #ballad #poetry #London #India

Here is a charming 18th century English folk ballad, to beat away the blues of January.
The first published version of this song appeared in Roxburghe Ballads, 1710.

‘…stay a while with me

For if I had a friend all on this earth

You’ve been a friend to me.

And fare thee well my own true love

And farewell for a while.

I’m going away but I’ll be back

If I go ten thousand miles.’

And on this cheery note, I must bid a 21st century friendly farewell as I depart London, England for Goa, India for 3 weeks of intrepid adventures and exciting discoveries. 

Sunny climes and warm skies beckon beyond and over the horizon – actually, geographically speaking, lying north of the Equator, just beneath the Tropic of Cancer.

New friends to meet, old friends to greet: ‘But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep…’ (poet, Robert Frost).

There are many ways to part and many paths to wander…

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Two hearts #poetry #Italy #London #poets #love #January

On the 10th January, 1845, poet Robert Browning wrote to poet Elizabeth Barrett declaring
“I love your verses (her latest collection of poems) with all my heart dear Miss Barrett… – and I love you.” 
And so on this day began a courtship by correspondence of two beautiful poets.  

They did not actually meet until the May; Elizabeth was bedridden in a darkened room and suffering from an undiagnosed ailment. Browning waited patiently and longingly and remained undeterred in his affection for her. His weekly visits to Wimpole Street, central London were a restorative to her health.  

Thus proving that love, love-letters, love-thoughts and love poetry are deeply effective remedies.

They were married in secret in September 1846 at The Mary-le-Bone Church in Marylebone, and eloped to the mild climes and less expensive life in Italy.  

Poet, William Wordsworth is reported to have commented, “Well, I hope they understand one another – nobody else would.”

Thankfully (Mr Wordsworth) they absolutely did.

And so to you I say this, find someone who loves and understands you; someone you think about a little bit more than everyone else around you, and tell them…it will make them feel so much better.

‘The face of all the world is changed I think

Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul…’

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’ VII


‘…And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,

Than two hearts beating each to each!’

Robert Browning: ‘Meeting At Night.’


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Happy New Year from London, England #BigBen #NewYear #London #poetry

To avoid the crowds this year, a jolly, good fellow has made me a model of The Houses of Parliament, which means Big Ben, (St Stephen’s Tower) a little imagination and ‘the bare necessities (of life) have come to me’ …(see pic)…

On the last day of the year in 1865 (1 day after Rudyard Kipling’s birth in Bombay). Poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) wrote the poem ‘I Stood on a Tower’

‘I stood on a tower in the wet,

And New Year and Old Year met,

And winds were roaring and blowing;

And I said, “O years, that meet in tears,

Have you all that is worth the knowing?

Science enough and exploring,

Wanderers coming and going,

Matter enough for deploring,

But aught that is worth the knowing?”‘


The last 4 lines of this poem shall be the feature of tomorrow’s blog, on the 1st January 2016, with a photo that best suits the passing of the wet, weary Old Year and the revealing of the shiny New.

12 days of Christmas, 12 bells of New Year…

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A Square Tree #Christmas #London #Norway 

“This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45.
A tree has been given annually since 1947.”

In Trafalgar Square, stands a 50-60 year old Norway Spruce. It is shipped across the North Sea, travels up to London and is adorned simply in the Nordic style with 500 white lights.

Around this tree congregate Carollers (singers of traditional Carols), happy school children, rockers, onlookers and fundraisers, proving that under the protection and beauty of green, spiky branches all sorts of people can come together safely.

Each year new poems are displayed on banners about the base.

‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree thy leaves are so unchanging…’

Here she will stand until 6th January 2016, if you are about come and take a look at Trafalgar Square’s perfect triangular Tree for 2015 – day or night! Follow the star

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A Birthday In The Bleak Mid-Winter #Rossetti #December #OnThisDay #poetry #music

On the 5th of December 1830 (85 years ago today) Christina Rossetti, the youngest of the artistic Rossetti family, was born in London.
She wrote the well-known, wintry, Christian lyrics of the carol ‘In The Bleak Mid-Winter.’  The widely-hummed music was composed by Gustav Holst (1874-1934).  Holst was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and is most famous for his composition ‘The Planets.’
The words and the melody come together perfectly to form a delicate, soft and slowly journeying hymn. There is nothing too trying for the vocal chords, one could almost read the verses over a log fire with the cold wind locked outside.

‘In the bleak mid-winter 

Frosty winds may moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter,

Long ago…’

First verse of In The Bleak Mid-Winter’

It is perhaps appropriate to mention that Christina also wrote a poem entitled: ‘A Birthday’

‘Because the birthday of my life 

Is come, my love is come to me.’

There is plenty of singing and rejoicing this time of year; we are deep in the heart of poetry, music and storytelling.
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Burning bright #OnThisDay #poetry #history #London

William Blake was born in London on 28th November, 1757 (d.12th August, 1827) and lived all his life in the city, apart from an absence of 3 years, when he lived in Felpham (Sussex).
He is difficult man to fathom, despite detailed and comprehensive study of his work, particularly in the late 20th century; he seems to stand entirely alone in his collection of crafts.

He was pre-Romantic, yet a Romantic poet; a printmaker and painter (engraver, printer and illustrator of his own illuminated poems and manuscripts).  

Blake was described by writer and scholar William Rossetti (1860s) as ‘a glorious luminary’ and as ‘a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors.’

Artist or genius, or mystic or madman?

Perhaps an element of each; unafraid to show, explore and reveal his true self.

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

In the forests of the night 

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy perfect symmetry?’

  From ‘The Tyger‘ William Blake

His home in Soho, London was demolished in 1965, and is recognised by this plaque below; his grave is unmarked, he lies somewhere in Bunhill fields, (Islington, London), where there is a memorial stone.

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Persons of notable repute to this place came … #history #poetry #GreatBritain #London

The old church garden on Marylebone High Street, London commemorates the site of the old parish church of St Mary on the River Tyburn, in the village of St Mary le Bourne, hence Marylebone. It was built 1400, rebuilt 1741, and demolished 1949.

On this site ‘Persons of notable repute in The History of Great Britain,’ are remembered.

Who are they?

Sir Francis Bacon (born 1561) English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist and author.  

In the mid 19th century some of the plays conventionally attributed to Shakespeare were believed to have been written by him. He was MARRIED here in 1606.

William Hogarth, painter, engraver, satirist PORTRAYED the church interior, 1735.

James Gibbs, architect and pupil of Wren, was BURIED here, 1754.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Irish playwright and poet, MARRIED here 1773; he is buried in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Charles Wesley, co-founder of the Methodist Movement, BURIED here, 1788.

Lord Byron, poet, BAPTISED here, 1788.

Lord Nelson, WORSHIPPED here and his daughter Horatia, BAPTISED here, 1803.

‘So we’ll go no more a-roving

So late into the night

Though the heart still be as loving

And the moon still be as bright.’

‘We’ll go no more a-roving’ 

by Lord Byron, and his Romantic ideals.

If the building has to go, write down its memories and remember them, so we can pass it all on … This is what comes of wandering, look left and look right, stop and stare

  

A Rosette to a Rossetti #poetry #poets #London

The Rossetti family of 19th century, central London, became a distinguished bunch of people, dedicated to their talents of Art and Literature.  

The family house in Bloomsbury was filled with the old master influences of Petrarch and Dante Aligheri, as well as the visiting presence of Italian scholars, artists and revolutionaries.

Let’s be briefly introduced… 

Father of the family, Gabriele Rossetti was a poet and political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo, Italy.

Mother of the family was Frances Polidori, the sister of John William who was friend and physician to Lord Byron. John was also an enthusiastic writer; the first to create the idea of a blood-sucking-vampire, whose gentlemanly breeding, manners, and sophistication were based on Byron.

Son, William and daughter, Maria both became writers.

Son, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (and William too) was co-founder of the artistic group, The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; he was an influential artist and poet.

And finally Christina Rossetti, the youngest child, was an intelligent and creative poet; with a mix of her own troubles and experiences, she channelled her ideas into poetry and prose.  

Today I wish to announce that it is she, Christina, who shall wear the rosette for writing some of the most beautiful, imaginative and evocative lines in the English language. She followed in the steps of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning as the main female poet of her time (1860s) and was highly regarded and much appreciated by the critics of this male-dominated society.

At some point in your life, in some way and maybe without realising it, you will come across a Rossetti.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;

Hang it with vair and purple dyes;

Carve it in doves and pomegranates,

And peacocks with a hundred eyes;

Work it in silver gold and grapes,

In leaves and in silver fleur-de-lys;

Because the birthday of my life

Is come, my love is come to me.

Second and final verse from ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please! #OperationSmile #Christmas #charity

Christmas is the time for giving and sharing and smiling.
I have been discussing a particular charity Christmas event since early July…so do not tell me it is too early to start ‘talking about it!’

The children’s charity Operation Smile is holding a Carols by Candlelight evening in two beautiful, old London churches:-

One in the heart of the city, St Boltolphs without Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street on Tuesday, 15th December, 2015.

The poet John Keats was baptised here in 1795 in the present font. While the city of London continues to grow higher and higher, allowing modern and expensive skyscrapers into its midst, this dear little church, the fourth since 1212, has suffered two World Wars and continues to stand its small ground.

And one in The Mayfair Church, South Audley Street on Wednesday, 9th December, 2015.

This church resembles a New England style church and was the American allies choice of worship and prayer during the 1939-1945 War. It also happens to be close to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square.

So there you have two perfect English churches, with two different personalities yet united in presenting an evening of merry-making and money-raising for Operation Smile.

We have traditional carols, live music and special readings (poetry, prose, verse and books) by celebrated (I prefer this word to celebrity) guests, all by candlelight in these two-tiered, charming churches.

Then afterwards join the happy crowd for mince pies and mulled wine.

In the meantime the money raised from these evenings will continue to provide children born with clefts in the developing world the free, safe surgery they need.

So, in a (chest) nut shell! you are allowing these children to live and to smile; you have the opportunity and the ability to change their future forever. What could be better? The more the merrier.

Please come and join us, meet wonderful, dedicated people, and let’s raise the roof (metaphorically), raise a glass (carefully) and raise lots of money (literally)!

Thank You for reading, listening and sharing…

http://www.operationsmile.org.uk/carols
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Silence please #remembrance #OnThisDay #VeteransDay #Poppy

2 minutes of silent remembrance is held today 11.11.2015.
On 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, it is customary to take a short, respectful, commemorative moment to remember those who sacrificed the gift of life for freedom, all unknown and known warriors and heroes, during the Great War, the Second World War and all global wars and conflicts.

‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them…’

From ‘For The Fallen’ written in 1914 by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

This is the Pride of the Poppy; the symbol of ‘the few’

A simple, yet profound statement: “this is my thanks, I remember you.”
A picture paints a thousand words…a picture speaks volumes…picturing this field at the Tower of London in November 2014 was extremely moving…888,246 ceramic red poppies. 
Two weeks later, there was a knock at the door, a postal delivery for me, and then a tear of joy and a tear of sadness at the realisation of the gravity of the moment, for One of these beautiful Poppies is now mine.

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John Keats, Reflecting on A Star #OnThisDay #poetry #JohnKeats

John Keats born 31st October 1795, (220 years ago today).

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen…’

From, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ (sonnet) composed by Keats in October 1816 after a night spent reading aloud translations from Homer. These translations were completed by George Chapman in 1616, precisely 200 years prior to Keats, then add another 220 years and you reach our 21st century.

That evening Keats parted from his school friend, Cowden-Clarke, walked over London Bridge back to Dean Street (present day fashionable Soho) and at once wrote this sonnet.

Keats died of tuberculosis aged only 25 years in Rome, 23rd February 1821.

‘When I have fears that I may cease to be,
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain…’ 

He never got his girl (Fanny Brawne) and, in true romantic fashion, he strove to write and achieve the very best poetry; believing he had failed in his lifetime as a poet.

‘ – then on the shore 

Of the wide world I stand alone and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.’

Keats wrote some of the most beautiful lines in the English language.

Today he is considered ‘a bright star.’

Stars, whose fires corresponded with his own ardour (Latin ardere = to burn), were an endless preoccupation for Keats; he had a kinship with the transcendent world – a place where he might continuously exist outside the created world; free from life’s limitations and restrictions and ultimately death… ‘A Bright Star.’

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London’s Autumnal Reflections: ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever…’