Friday, 3 August 2018


I feel I need to offer some explanation about this week's post.
James Kay-Shuttleworth founded Marjons in 1840. He was part of a political/religious movement that wanted to offer the working classes education. I am one of the many people who benefited from his vision.
Recently a friend sent me a BBC News page about Gawthorpe Hall. The following poem grew out of these events.

A Poem of Two Summers

i Then

At least, for now, the rain has stopped
the room remains cluttered with words
to describe this wet summer,
and prayers of thanks it is not as bad as 1816.
It is damp enough to keep them penned inside,
so he reads the letter once more.

Mr Kay-Shuttleworth realises he has had enough of the cage,
perceives the time has come, steps out into the garden.

The burdened leaves impart more water
than is healthy on his black broadcloth coat,
he does not care, for things come together,
such liberating circumstances as will free men
to build God’s Kingdom on this earth,
equality through education.

ii Now

Now the summer has wrung every
drop of moisture from the soil
I see the shadow of that Victorian garden.
Its ghost outline vividly demarcated
on the screen of my mobile phone,
over two hundred miles away
and nearly two hundred years later,
informed of its significance
for the hundreds of thousands, like me,
who have benefited from that vision,
I give thanks and praises that people
once cared enough to give others the opportunities
that these days we are more intent on removing.

I should also explain that the summer of 1816 was the worst on record due to a volcanic explosion. 
I know this poem is not complete and I am wondering if the end is not too much tell and not enough show.
The difference between the Victorian sense of social duty and now is tremendous. In those days it was commonly agreed that it was everyone's duty to improve the lot of the less fortunate. How times have changed.
Here's Brooke Sharkey earlier this year in Manchester.
Until next time.

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