Wednesday, 29 April 2009

well dressed

We called by the Virtuous Well at Trellech the other day. We wanted to go and greet the spring. The Christian version of death and rebirth at Eastertide seems rather over-dramatic, what with all the beating-oneself-up about the Passion, then the celebration of the Resurrection. I mean, it's not as though we didn't know it was going to be a happy ending.

Still, whatever floats your boat.

B and I floated our boats, as it were, by celebrating the spring with a bit of well dressing. Look, here is a well dressed.

...the first time I came here, twenty years ago-ish, there was none of This Kind Of Thing going on here. I'd read descriptions of offerings to Welsh wells in Jan Morris' book on Wales; and of similar things in Ireland, elsewhere. It seemed like a nice thing to do. So I tore off some of the rags I always kept in the pannier of my motorbike (for you always need that sort of thing with motorbikes, at least my kind of motorbikes) and tied them up in the hawthorn over the well, wondering if the local population would take fright at the thought of frenzied paganism on the loose.

Time marches on, and there is now a lot of That Kind Of Thing about. The tree is quite heavy with textiles, as you can see in the first photo, including some rather eccentric offerings; there was a bra there, for one thing... and they are looking a bit past their best now after the winter's weathering and the sun's bleaching. Still...

...Ignoring my image, I peer down
to the quiet roots of it, where
the coins lie, the tarnished offerings
of the people to the pure spirit
that lives there, that has lived there
always, giving itself up
to the thirsty, withholding
itself from the superstition of others, who ask for more.

Ffynnon Fair RS Thomas