There are some beautiful skies - morning and evening - at this time of year in the North of England. The colours are just amazing and often have me reaching for a favourite poem - Elegy in a Country Churchyard. Written by Thomas Gray at a church on the outskirts of Slough, where I spent my teenage years, its images have resonated in my imagination for a long time.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
I like the five beat rhythm of the lines, the language (solemn stillness,drowsy tinklings) but above all I like it because I when I stand in a country churchyard I think and feel so many of the same things. Although Gray was writing in the eighteenth century churchyards are not so very different now.
If you want to read the whole thing CLICK HERE
If you want to visit Gray's churchyard this is the postcode: SL2 4NZ
Hawkshead, watercolour by Ian Scott Massie (above)
Masham, Late Autumn, open edition print by Ian Scott Massie (left)
both available from Masham Gallery
To visit CLICK HERE