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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Love is on the cards, St Valentines Day #Valentines #hearts #poetry #love #cards #february

St Valentine (died Rome, 14th February 273AD) is widely associated with romance and devotion; many legends surround this saint and martyr. 

Mid-February is also the time birds begin to pair up. Look out for their springtime busy-ness. They are the natural sign and symbol of a new season, breaking away from winter, spreading their wings and preparing for new beginnings.

For the humans amongst us how about a little love poetry to delight and soothe the senses and to remind us that everyone, somewhere, needs love in their life. To find it can be hard, to give it, well a wonderful gift.

Tobias Menzies reads ‘In Fields’ by Kate Barnwell

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Play your cards right, it’s one day, however anti-materialistic you feel: ‘show some love, you ain’t so tough…’


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…’

  

‘The darling buds of May’

Poetry in nature, Nature in poetry; the two so intricately bound, they preserve each other beautifully.
In everything we see & do, we find poetry: a word, a line, a couplet, a verse; our language is peppered with worn phrases & quotations, part remembered & stored in our minds ready to be recited just at the perfect moment.
Be amazed! We have an incomparable poetic heritage and however young or old the poem or ourselves, there is a poetry moment waiting inside us all.
We can think & breathe the same life as our chosen poet has all those years ago; we too see the same beauty or feel the same pain.

‘Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date…’
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare, 1609

William Shakespeare & I agree: the winds are whipping up the delicate apple blossoms & an English summer never lasts long enough. Kate Barnwell, 2015