Monthly Archives: May 2015

Literature and The Lakes

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I’ve fallen in love. All over again.

I’ve just spent a day in the Lake district and since coming to university, I’ve fallen in love with a whole lot of places and a whole lot of literature. In one of my new favourite novels, North and South, Margaret Hale moves from the South of England up to the North saying “I believe I have seen hell and it’s white, it’s snow white” and (spoilers) throughout the novel, she is slowly converted to the North. I have to say, walking through Grasmere and Ambleside yesterday, it didn’t take long for me to be converted. It was beyond beautiful, standing right in the middle of where the great poets were writing, looking at the sights they saw, this is exactly what Wordsworth was talking about when he wrote.

“I love the fir grove with a perfect love
Thither do I withdraw when cloudless suns
Shine hot, or wind blows troublesome and strong;
And there I sit at evening, when the steep
Of silver-how, and Grasmere’s peaceful lake
And one green island, gleam between the stems
Of the dark firs … while O’er my head,
At every impulse of the moving breeze,
The fir-grove murmurs with a sea-like sound…”
[Wordsworth]

Luckily for us, cloudless suns did shine hot, leaving a simply magical glow on everything we saw as we were surrounded by hills, lakes and beautiful greenery. Wonderful weather, wonderful words. How people can walk around these areas, with all its impressive grandeur and delicate detail, and believe there is no God or that literature is dead I will never understand. Every flower so intricate and graceful. This might be dreadfully cliché but this is living literature, right here, I am living literature. These lakes, this countryside, this is literature in action. And the village itself was far from the industrial North painted by Margaret Hale but more a quaint little village that could have been taken from her own time, or that of Wordsworth and the other Romantics. We walked around the Wordsworth gardens and sat watching the boats pass the time of day on lake Windermere. I even took a visit to Wordsworth himself, although I’m not sure his grave is quite the best case for arguing that literature is alive now but being here, that’s where the words of the poem leave off and experience takes over. And of course, we did visit the famous gingerbread shop of Grasmere where the gingerbread was, as foretold, delightful.

Nationally renown gingerbread, an ice cream in the sun and fish and chips on the beach, a pretty wonderful day. So yes, it’s fair to say that like Margaret, I have been converted. I absolutely love where I come from, but who knows, maybe one day, I’ll even call myself a northener. But for now, I have fallen in love with the Romantics, Victorian literature and the North. All over again. 🙂

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