Sunday, November 15, 2009

Do you remember?


Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of the tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the Din?
And the Hip! Hop! Hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the twirl and the swirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of a clapper to the spin
Out and in ---
And the Ting, Tong, Tang, of the Guitar.
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar:
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the Halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far Waterfall like Doom.

Hilaire Belloc

When I was in my early teens we had our Deputy Headmistress for English for the school year. She was a very strict woman and we were determined to dislike her, as with anyone in authority at the age we were.

Every lesson during the week was different and she had a very up to date way of teaching considering her age (probably in her late fifties). I remember that we worked on punctuation at our own speed using algorithms. The we had one lesson in the library where we were just expected to read whatever we liked. One of the books we read as a class was ‘A Kid for Two Farthings’ by Wolf Mankowitz (I’ve just discovered that he adapted the novel and there was a film made in 1955). We actually acted out the fight scene in class. Having taught myself, I know how quickly a class can get out of hand. We were noisy – it was a noisy scene, but she never lost control of us.

Every year the school held some sort of event in order to show us off to our parents. That year she chose us to recite Hilaire Belloc’s poem, 'Tarantella'. She explained to us that she had been taking part in choral speaking (I’m not sure if that is the name for it really), which she wanted to try with us and that she would divide us into groups depending on our voices; light, dark or medium. I think that I might have been a ‘light’. The boy with the deepest voice was to open the poem by reciting the first two lines alone.

The night of the recital I had to move around the stage quite a bit. I played ‘cello in the school orchestra, I was in the choir (extracts from Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and I had to recite one of my own poems about Conkers, which I wasn’t too happy about as I didn’t really want to go down in history as The Girl Who Wrote a Poem About Conkers. Then I joined my class for the big poem. I suppose it was a success. I only really remember how much I enjoyed the poem.

If you’re old enough and from the US you might remember two English School ma’ams being interviewed on your local radio station. It was our Headmistress and her companion, who set off to explore the Wild West one summer in the late 60s….


Graham said...

Hi Anji.
Thanks for your very kind words, and I've enjoyed my little visit here. I admire Hillaire Belloc, almost as much as I do Edward Lear. They play games with words. Which is good.
Once gain, thanks and nice to meet you.

Anji said...

Graham: Thanks for visiting. Yes, we're a family that enjoys playing around with words. I'll be back to see what you're doing with words soon.

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