Friday 27 August 2010

sparking memories

.....galloping on horses, their hoofprints
Splashes of light, divots kicked out of the darkness,
For some reason, that Michael Longley poem I quoted yesterday had me thinking of horses galloping along beaches, which seems a bit showy. I guess it was the pelagic references that followed, that reminded me of Into The West, which is a bit of a skiddly-diddly, redemptive-power-of-the-celtic-twilight sort of movie, in my opinion, and as this trailer will possibly demonstrate.

...but it also reminded me of Gawain setting out in his quest for the Green Knight

He sperred the sted with his spures & sprong on his way
So stif that the stonfir sprong out ther aft
'stone fire' is a nice way of describing the sparks...

Anyway, I have neither galloped into the celtic twilight, beachwise or otherwise, not quested on a charger. Though I did like the hymn we used to sing in primary school, 'When a Knight Won His Spurs'. Adjust pronouns to suit your own circumstances.

When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
He was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land

No charger have I and no sword by my side
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride
Though back into storyland giants have fled
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead

So let faith be my shield and let hope be my steed
Against the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
And let me set free with the sword of my youth
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth

It was only later that I realised that the writer of the words was Joyce Maxtone Graham, otherwise Jan Struther, author of Mrs Miniver, which is a very good book if a rotten movie.

Oh yes, memory. Walking out on the sands of Morecambe Bay, beyond Arnside, at Christmas in 1980 or so. A still, clear morning. Silent except for the occasional scream of a gull and a train passing over the viaduct and rattling along the coastal railway track.

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And then a roebuck emerged from the woods on the shore and galloped across the sands, until it reached another promontory and finally disappeared into the woods again. And we wondered, and carried on our walk.


  1. I'd forgotten about that hymn. We used to sing it too - from words on a huge flip chart suspended from the ceiling in the big hall. I say "big" hall. It was probably not that big at all except from the perpective of a seven-year-old sat cross-legged on the wooden floor.

    (I don't approve of fighting dragons now, of course. Eldritch would never forgive me!)

  2. I love that hymn, I was thinking about it the other day, though I don't remember the third verse

  3. I saw "Into the West" again last Xmas. I'd forgotten how innocent and charming it was (and how deeply unfashionable now). My favourite line is when the two brothers separate while on the run:
    "Don't leave me, Tayto" a plaintive line I have been repeating all year.
    Favourite scene? The horse eating the popcorn of course. Yes, there's a lot of Paddywhackery, but its still a good way to spend an afternoon!

  4. We had it in the school act-of-worship hymn book, Anne, to sing along to the radio in the classroom.

    She also wrote Lord of all Hopefulness, another fave...

    It is a nice film, isn't it, Claire? But as you say, Paddywhackery. It seemed to come into my life when I was a bit excessively subjected to Enya, Riverdance, and some acquaintances who were v keen to claim Irish roots and go on about 'proper' Guinness, etc etc... 'Hear My Song', on the other hand, I remember as being totally triff.

  5. "....from my gondola......"
    yes, it also plays with the ideas of identity and responsibility in a deeper way.
    Still "Don't leave me Tayto" is enough to save "Into the West" for me.

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  7. Hi Dru. I haven't seen 'Into the West'. I remember watching Mrs Miniver with my mum when I were a lad and falling slightly in love with Greer Garson. But that was me. I remember 'When a Knight Won his Spurs' though. There. you wanted to know what memories your blog had stirred, didn't you? Didn't you?

  8. Yes, Graham, I did. Thank you! I never saw the movie, as I mentioned earlier, but I'd picked up the notion that it was a bit drippy. The book was in Virago Classics, which got me interested enough to pick it up. I'm glad I did. Similarly Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady...