Friday, 19 August 2016

The Remorseful Day

When I heard young Morse (in a repeat of Endeavour)  recite the last two stanzas of A.E. Houseman’s  “How Clear, How Lovely Bright"  I realised that my attitude has lately changed to a calmer, lighter mood. Not that there have been any great differences in our circumstances, it’s simply that I am perhaps coming to terms with what cannot be altered. At least, I hope so. What lies beyond our control must be endured. Sitting, like Mimir the Dwarf in the hole at the foot of the dead sycamore tree, plotting, worrying and endlessly turning the same problem over in my mind won’t bring relief.

I’ve also found my material feet, which helps. All the legal formalities have been dealt with - and paid for. ouch! - . I have a brand-new, fat file full of solicitors’ letters, legal documents and official declarations. Neither one of us likes it but, there you are. It was necessary.

Most of the long neglected jobs around house and garden have been tackled; I have assumed responsibility for them and, being a rather methodical and tidy person, they have been initiated, if not completed. Beloved is more the type who puts jobs on lists, where they are allowed to grow whiskers. In his opinion, collecting items on a list means that the job is half done. Not so, as far as I’m concerned. Now there’s only the large-ish stain on the sitting room ceiling to be dealt with; the bath in the room above overflowed and the stain is most unsightly. I dread the thought of emptying the sitting room of furniture; let’s see, perhaps I can organise a couple of hefty chaps to do it. Painters are notoriously slow in coming, so maybe I shall have to live with the stain for a while yet.

Another thing which has helped enormously is that I have taken to gardening again. I know I’ve rather been going on about gardening recently, but the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. The same applies to keyboard and fingers, in this instance.  The place already shows signs of improvement, which spurs me on to get out there and labour.

There’s one other thing which has gone by the board, i.e. unresolved issues with people, family and acquaintances both. Up to a few months ago these issues would pop into my mind at the most unsuitable moments, I’d fret and worry at them and allow them to depress me. No more. When you are faced with a situation which goes right to the heart of existence itself, anything else becomes mere ballast, an irritation to be shed until such time as you actually have the strength - and time - to bring it up again from the depths. I am, of course, hoping that these issues will  have disappeared into outer space by then anyway. Never to resurface. Going back to the first paragraph: it’s best not to burden yourself with things you cannot change.

So, dear old A.E. Housman, who wrote the haunting poem "A Shropshire Lad" and whose ashes are buried just outside St. Lawrence’s Church in my county town of Ludlow, sent me a timely reminder on how to avoid The Remorseful Day. I cannot promise that every day I shall see the bright new morning, or that I shall be strong every day granted us, me and Beloved, but I shall endeavour.

How clear, how lovely bright
How beautiful to sight
    Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
    Soars the delightful day.

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
    Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
    I never kept before.

Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
    Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
    Falls the remorseful day.


  1. Lovely poem, "shall squander life no more". Be well and enjoy your gardening and checking things off your "to do" list.

  2. Rising from a pit and seeing patches of daylight gives one the strength to follow the light. I love Endeavor, and to see where Morse grows and becomes an older man. I mourned for John Thaw when his Morse was no more.
    Papers and legalities are the worst.

  3. Thank you for showing me the wisdom that only now is breathing into my own formerly harried inner world. Bless you, Friend

  4. Thank you for sharing. It is not a shared journey but finding your own path through the maze. I hope the writing is helpful to you because it because it encourages me.

  5. I'm glad you have time and inclination for the garden again Friko. Life changes so quickly and unexpectedly. You're right that worry doesn't solve problems. However, sometimes the mind won't rest!

  6. I talked to a friend this morning who can benefit from this poem and story, and it really applies to all.

  7. Thank you. I love that you have found your way back into the garden. A haven of healing.

  8. "Ensanguinate" one of my favourite an rare words. Not only for skies but for us too. I know whereof you speak. Gardening yes, it was knitting for me. Bringing life back through creation.
    I celebrate this renewal with you.

  9. I am sitting here thinking hard on how to communicate my delight at this post. Oh heck, I guess just telling you how happy it makes me will have to be enough. :-)

  10. Our language is so full of expressions for us to note in situations like yours, starting with 'making best of a bad job'. Good to hear you are adjusting to changed circumstances. No matter how much logic you use, there are other areas of the mind that work differently and it seems like yours are adjusting. Ask the painters if they will move the heavy furniture.

  11. Ah, Endeavour. I remember the episode, which I took as a sort of back-handed encouragement at the time. Oh, I've vowed aplenty, then yielded and squandered and vowed again, until knee-deep in remorse and short on time, some minor miracle for which I was blameless, made me grateful to have survived that far. I've grown tired from living, as the aging must, but I ain't tired of it yet.

  12. Life is to be lived, no matter the circumstances, but sometimes it takes tremendous strength. I am glad to hear that you are back in your gardens where you love to be. That old adage about taking one day at a time is certainly true, and that which is behind us or before us should not ruin what is present. Worrying has caused me some very bad health problems, so I do my best to let go of what I have no control over. It is never easy, but I am getting better at it. I see you have also done that.

  13. Couldn't agree with you more there, Friko; it's useless to fret over stuff we can not change.
    I am glad to hear your mindset has altered a little, and I guess tackling each job as it has become necessary further contributes to you feeling better. So often I hear of people how good gardening is for them, therapeutic even. My family and I are convinced our Dad would not be alive today were it not for the allotment. It was the most important thing my Mum ever initiated for his benefit, when she insisted they look at gardens and eventually found that one, after my Dad had suffered a stroke shortly after entering retirement.

  14. I agree Friko, getting old we begin to understand that we are no longer able to do and to control everything. I always feel better in a garden, in nature, because it is eternal, and we are only guests.

  15. So glad you are in equilibrium....and in the garden.

    You know our situation...we jettisoned the ballast a while ago!

  16. worry never solved a single problem. glad you are coming to terms with what can't be changed and in the garden again!

  17. I believe there is a secret association of people across the earth who loved Morse and Endeavor. Years ago, I worked for a man named Paul who had a "reputation" for being difficult. I went out of my way attaching myself to fellows like this my entire life. Psychiatrists had a field day analyzing my curious attraction to difficult professors, bosses, husbands. Of course I loved Morse.

    As for my boss Paul, I was warned by the big boss before he assigned me to Paul that he was difficult. They fired him from the university of xxx because he was hard to get along with, he said.
    One day when he came to work, I was in early as usual, my desk stacked with books. The night before, I had watched the Morse episode where he is taunted by an obnoxious reporter, who captured a photo of him reading books when he should have been searching for a serial killer according to the reporter. Later when the solution to the case came to Morse as he thumbed through a book, he caught the killer. When the reporter asked him how he finally caught the guy, he looked at him and said "books."

    The morning Paul came in and saw me at the desk with all my books, he looked into my office and said, "books" and "did you watch Morse last night?" At that moment I knew why Paul was "difficult" he liked Morse, which made him a lot like me.

    My other favorite poem from Morse is T. S. Elliot's poem that includes the line, "to make an end is to make a beginning.

  18. I so agree with your point that "What lies beyond our control must be endured." On the other hand, I'm inclined to expand it just a bit, and add, "What lies beyond our control is sometimes best forgotten." For example: nothing is so unchangeable as the past. What happened, happened. And yet my poor mother was quite capable of lying in bed at night ruminating over something that passed between us when I was eight, or fourteen, or twenty. "Forget it!" I'd say. And she'd say she couldn't. But sometimes I suspect that the operative word was "wouldn't." She certainly helped me understand that old expression about a dog worrying a bone. She could turn the same event over and over and gnaw on it for years. Amazing, really. I don't have her staying power. :-)

    I'm so glad you're out in the garden again -- and growing a few sentences here, too. After years of gentle complaint and envy over not having a garden, I've become a volunteer at a local nature center. I'm so new I still have to have my training, but one of the first places I hope to work is the native plant nursery. Voila! Instant garden!

  19. Dear Friko, this post of yours and the earlier comments express so much appreciation of life, and how each of us may find our route to that appreciation. Thank you, as always, for the poetry you quote, and for the words that you have written. Within what I've read here are many phrases that meant quite a lot to me.
    I will raise my hand as another Morse and Endeavor fan. Roger Allam is a favorite actor. If I have not already told you, I will wait until I next see you to relate my Colin Dexter story, episodes I and II. I have put that promise on a brand new list! xo

  20. What a touching and lovely poem. I had not known it before but it speaks on so many different levels.Thank you. I am glad you are calmer and hope you will eventually be able to resolve the other issues that trouble you.

  21. What an uplifting post, that is just what I needed. The poem is beautiful.

  22. I can hear heaven laughing, Friko!
    The delightful day soars before me and your post has given it wings. :)

  23. We were born in the wrong decade to feel 'paperwork' anything other than foreign .

  24. Gardening nurtures your soul and is healing. I really believe that.

  25. We all have things in life which are difficult to deal with, but I find your approach to be very calming and settling. I hope I can learn from you for I know I will be in a similar position someday. Coping with life and making the best of things is always a good idea.

  26. It sounds as if you are finding your way. What a wonderful post! And thank you for the poem -- I'll print it out and put it where I read it often.

  27. Sunrise and Sunsets always have a way of simplifying life...and giving way to clearer and wiser thoughts.

  28. Change what you can and live with what you cannot...that is my motto as a caregiver...and apologize to no one especially those who are not understanding:)

  29. How did I get through English Lit without knowing this wonderful poem? Or did I and it just flew through my brain like so much mush only to really hit the right note in due course. I can't tell you how much I love this post, how it gives me light and energy and joy -- I don't have the words to do that thought justice.

    Oh, for the good smells of the dirt, the pleasure of trimming the stalk of the plant, of seeing the new growth and know that in part it happens because of you. To have the ducks in a neat little row for whenever. To come to terms.

    The first thing I did when I retired was that Rick and I went to the lawyer and did all that paperwork. Ducks in a row, just in case. And what a lightening of the burden that is. And then to move on. I'm so very happy for you, my English/German friend. So very happy.

  30. This lovely poem is new to me, as are the Endeavour episodes. We've watched some of Morse, but didn't know there was a prequel.
    Your re-discovered equilibrium is evident in your post, Friko. I'm glad the worries have been cast aside for now and you can move on living life as it is.

  31. Hi Friko - a beautiful, empathetic post on coming to terms as life has become - a difficult thing to do. But it's good to know - you're being methodical and organised, which will make life easier at some future stage - when a muddle would be just too much.

    As Lorrie says ... your equilibrium with life as it is - is good to see and I'm sure will bring happiness to you both. Wonderful you can be out in the garden - tending and nurturing for garden-life to rest up for the winter, but bring forth new shoots in the Spring.

    I enjoy Morse and Endeavour and their use of language and literature ... just adds to the story line - getting me to think. Houseman has an interesting background ... I must go back to read - looks inspiring.

    Lovely post and thoughts within ... cheers Hilary

  32. Wise and beautiful words. Thank you.

  33. Beautiful words, both yours and the poet. Very appropriate for my circumstances as well. Best to you.

  34. I love that poem. I am glad to read you reading it and to hear that you are somehow settling into what life is now. All the best to you and your beloved.

  35. I'm so glad to hear you are feeling lighter and more accepting.

  36. Love A.E. Housman, and I'm so glad that you are adjusting to present circumstances…better than adjusting, actually. It sounds like you are officially thriving a bit.



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