Mar. 10th, 2017

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Went to see Tas this afternoon -- she was suitably sympathetic about the national anthem and "Jerusalem" on Wednesday, and supportive of me asking them not to say "wheelchair bound" any more. We chatted a lot, started with tea but ended up on fruit cider for her and proper beer (Adnams' Ghost Ship, a favorite!) for me. And we got talking about poems, she said when she gets very drunk she recites "When I am old I shall wear purple..." but then did it anyway only halfway into her first pint. She looked it up and read it out with a few lines she missed, but couldn't have improved on her enthusiasm of the first time.

Then she read "Television" by Roald Dahl, and asked me "you did Robert Frost at school, no?" and I had so I read her the poem that stuck with me most strongly from then: "Birches", which, gods, how could I have even liked it then, when I knew nothing about how "life is too much like a pathless wood" or "I'd like to get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over." I thought it was a poem about children's play leaving a mark on the world that others could recognize. And it's that too, and how vivid are the images of trees in an ice storm now that I'm so much farther from the ones I remember.

And I read more, "Woman Work" by Maya Angelou and Shel Silverstein because the Roald Dahl poem reminded me of him (though he's not po-faced of course) and Tas asked me to read "If" which set up her reading of the spectacular "A Far Cry from Africa" which clearly resonates with her as another product of Commonwealth colonialism whose first language is English.

At some point her husband came home from work and was his quiet self, gently chuckling at his wife's familiar exuberance, perhaps aided by the alcohol but always present without it, too. He agreed he was not as good an audience for poetry; Tas was delighted to realize that I wasn't just humoring her but really enjoyed it myself too.

We ate dinner and managed to talk about other things during it but upon finding out that I hadn't read much of John Donne, she could hardly spare time for a mouthful of cake between explaining to me about his life and love poetry and religious poetry and one of the last poems of the night for us was "The Sun Rising": "All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy."

It was a great night.


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