21st January St. Agnes Day

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
       The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
       And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
       Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told
       His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
       Like pious incense from a censer old,
       Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death, This is the opening of Keats’ St. Agnes Eve and Tennyson too wrote one of a similar name much shorter than Keats.’ Why was St. Agnes so popular in 19th century, I wonder. For one year I took a course while at Lancaster University in the 70s on the Romantic poets, and more recently they have come back into fashion. Rappers are exploring the works of William Blake and his revolutionary ideas, others the works of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Artists and poets can be our voice when it is difficult to find the words or the problems seem insurmountable. That is what makes the psalms and some of the wackier books of the Bible, often written in poetry, so helpful in hard times. You need a different way of speaking, a way of looking outside the box. Of all the speeches at the Presidential Inauguration possibly the most effective was the poem of Amanda Gorman, the young poet laureate, who could say in poetry what others struggled to say. More mundanely Track and Trace rang me today to remind me I was released from self-isolation tonight at midnight, but to take things easy. They have been very pleasant and considerate I have to say.

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