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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Dove Cottage & St Oswald's Grasmere

Today I made the obligatory Lake District memorial visit to Dove Cottage in Grasmere and the grave of William Wordsworth at St Oswald's, although I'm really more of a Coleridge fan.

I particularly liked the inscription in the church to Wordsworth as Poet Laureate:

'To the memory of William Wordsworth, a true philosopher and poet, who, by the special gift and calling of almighty God, whether he discoursed on man or nature, failed not to lift up the heart to holy things, tired not of maintaining the cause of the poor and simple; and so, in perilous times, was raised up to be a chief minister, not only of noblest poesy, but of high and sacred truth.'

I also liked the fact that Wordsworth, not really wanting to become Poet Laureate, made it a condition that he only write as Laureate when inspired to do so and, as a result, became the only Poet Laureate not to write any verse in the role of Laureate.

It was particularly sad to see the grave of Hartley Coleridge. Martyn Hallsall writes that: "The child had proved to be the father of the man, his academic brilliance overshadowed by immorality and disorganisation ... Samuel Taylor Coleridge, separated from his family, lived latterly in Hampstead, thinking, writing and above all talking against a background of opium addiction; ‘an archangel, a little damaged’ as Lamb remarked. Hartley Coleridge remained to his father, Richard Holmes reminds us, ‘a reproachful ghost of his own lost youth’. He failed as a schoolmaster, abandoned journalism, and remained unmarried, living off a bequest. After many years of silence his father, the year before he died in 1834, received from Hartley a copy of his poems. It was dedicated to him, and the opening sonnet quoted half a line from ‘Frost at Midnight’."

St Oswald's church also has a fine 'Madonna and Child' by Ophelia Gordon Bell. I also saw the 'Virgin and Child' by Josefina de Vasconcellos at St Mary's Ambleside.


William Wordsworth - To H C Six Years Old.

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