Archive for English Language

Happy Belated Birthday Sir Walter Scott!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, Inspiring poetry, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by echostains

August 15th was  the birthday of Scottish poet, writer and playwright  (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) Scott was  a 1st Baronet who wrote poems and historical novels.  He has the distinction in being the first english language author to achieve international fame in his own lifetime. Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and the Lady of the Lake still remain classics both in English and Scottish literature.  

Sir Walter Scott by Rarburn

Privately educated, the young Scott  loved reading romantic adventure stories, history and travel books.  He began studying the Classics in 1783 at the age of 12 years old, becoming one of the youngest students to do so in Edinburgh University.   Lochinvar was a poem that my late father used to recite to me.  It is suitably romantic and Pre Raphealite like to appeal to a girl raised on fairy tales!    

The Knight Errant by Millias

Here it is read beautifully!

 Lochinvar
  O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

“I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied; —
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide —
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, —
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a gailiard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?

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Thanks to  for the video

Image and more about this interesting poet and novelist here

Poem from Poemhunter

The Knight Errant by Millias image from here

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Happy Birthday Seamus Heaney!

Posted in Inspiring poetry with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by echostains

Today is the birthday of Irish poet Seamus Heaney (b. 1939  Northern Ireland) Born into  a farming family, Heaney went to the Queens University of Belfast where he studied English Literature and the English Language.  He was to graduate in 1961 with a first class honours degree.  It was during this time that he became interested in poetry.  His head master Micheal Mac Laverty was a writer and he introduced Heaney to Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry, encouraging the young  Heaney to publish his own poetry in 1962.

 In 1963 Heaney became a lecturer at St Joseph’s Teacher Training College in Belfast.  Phillip Hobsbaum who was then an English lecturer at Queens University noticed him and as he had already set up a  young poets group in London which was proving successful,  Hobsbaum then set up a poets group in Belfast where he was to  include Heaney, Derek Mahon and Micheal Longley.  Heaneys’  long and interesting career can be read here.  He has received many prizes for his poetry (including the T.S. Eliot Prize (2006) and the Nobel Prize in Literature (1995) and two Whitbread prizes (1996 and 1999).  He is regarded as an elder statesman of poetry.  His work sells very well –  two-thirds of sales for the work of living poets in the UK are for Heaney’s poetry.

The poem ‘When all the others were away’ (featured above) is about a treasured memory the poet has of his mother.  Sometimes the quite simple everyday things in life turn out to be the most treasured – and the most poignant.

Another earthy poem by Heaney is simply called ‘Digging’ and is about the poet’s father.  Heaney has also wrote poems about the Bog men (see my Bog men posts over on Echostains)   Bog Bodies speak beyond the grave, Preserved in Time – Otzi the Iceman, More Bog Bodies –  Ireland, Preserved in Time – Peruvian Mummies,  More Bodies from the Bog – Grauballe Man,

Digging

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney

Poem from Seamus Heaney website with thanks!

Video by  thanks!

More about Heaney and his poems here