Curse this blasted rain.
Understand, I love this kind of weather. I’d take it twenty times over the heat and the wetness actually doesn’t bother me at all. But this is the second time a big hike has been cancelled (Helvellyn) due to bad weather conditions. Striding Edge–a part of Helvellyn–looks like this:
. . . and is ill-advised if it’s wet or raining–or for anyone who is scared of heights. It was a nice icy-rainy-windy combo, so needless to say, we didn’t go. But we did go on this . . . poor man’s substitute hike? It was a three hour roundabout hike through the hills, which is fine, except is was bloody freezing. We’ve suffered rain before, but only because we had to get somewhere–if we didn’t hike then we wouldn’t arrive.
But this was just hiking in a general circle of cold misery. Nobody exactly wants to complain when you’re in the beautiful landscape of England (it’s beautiful, at least, so so b-b-beautiful!) but we were all kind of eyeing each other beneath our sopping hoods, like, “What is going on? Why are we doing this?!?!”
Anyway. Whatever–that was our last hurrah in Keswick and now we’re in Grasmere!
If you think you don’t know who Williams Wordsworth is, or S.T. Coleridge, you probably do but don’t know. As a Mormon, the president of our church is always quoting Wordworth’s line about “trailing clouds of glory” behind us when we come to earth. I wandered lonely as a cloud? Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart? The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly? The best portion of a good man’s life / His little, nameless, unremembered acts /
Of kindness and of love? That’s Wordsworth.
We visited Rydal Mount, where he lived the last thirty years of his life and died, and also Dove’s Cottage, where he only lived nine years, but where he wrote his best work (his golden decade).
When Ralph Waldo Emerson came to England, in part to visit these great Romantic poets, he went to Rydal Mount and was introduced to a white-haired, plain old man, who took him into the gardens which Wordsworth himself had landscaped (and they are so, so beautiful), upon which Wordsworth recited a few of his poems. Wordsworth was a little full of himself–obviously, he sort of assumed Emerson would want to hear, and at first Emerson nearly laughed at the situation of Wordsworth reciting like a dutiful schoolboy, but then realized he’d come to pay his respects to this great poet and “gladly gave himself up to listening.”
This was my feeling visiting these places. To Wordsworth, I am not a specific fan (though I like his work as well as anyone), but his poetry has influenced writers and literature in general, who have influenced more writers and further literature, which has in turn influenced me. For his role in the literary world, and for whatever modicum he had in inadvertently affecting my own style, I was there to pay my respects. So, with bowed head I thought, thanks for being a writer, Will. Like the cute tour guide at Rydal Mount. She was this short, older woman who referred to him lovingly as William, like she’d just finished tea with him that morning and positively adored him. The professor who teaches the poetry part of our trip is really amazing and he describes the poets in a way that makes them seem human, real, and journeying right beside us.
The steps leading into his personally landscaped garden at Rydal Mount
His grave — not creepy!