Friday, 29 August 2008

Three snaps of Blickling Hall in Norfolk, a Jacobean pile built in the 1620s on the site of a house possibly lived in by Anne Boleyn. Possibly, because it depends apparently whether you think Anne Boleyn was born in 1501 or 1507. If the former she probably did live here, if the latter then not as she was living somewhere else (Hever Castle in Kent). Anyway it's a splendid place later owned by Sir John Fastolfe that some folks believe might have been the model for Shakespeare's Falstaff (except Fastolfe was completely unlike Shakespeare's Falstaff in every respect). Highlights were the library, the orangery, the brickwork (a wonderful example of English bond - see below where each layer of brick alternates between a side-on brick (a 'stretcher' - yes indeed) and a head-on brick (a 'header')) and the secondhand bookshop.

Here among other things I found a copy of a critical study of the American poet and psychiatrist Merrill Moore. Moore wrote nothing but sonnets, thousands of them (see One Thousand Autobiographical Sonnets, 1938) mostly pretty terrible, but he was admired by William Carlos Williams who famously dismissed the sonnet as a contemporary irrelevance. "Merrill Moore's sonnets are magnificent. Never in this world did I expect to praise a living writer because of his sonnets, but these have been a revelation to me" writes Williams in an afterword to the above. Here is an example:


Clothilda in the park was weeping, weeping,
Where the sunlight on the grass was sleeping.
I was thinking then of Troy's woe,
How Trojan women wept when forced to go
Back to the plains beyond the city wall
After the triumph and the city's fall;
So I approached and was prepared to hear
A tragic tale misapprehend my ear.

She was eight, Clothilda was; I feared
A deeper wounding than the one she shared
With time that day - "See the squirrel, see!
He always keeps on the other side of the tree"
She pointed, "from me. I cannot come near.
It hurts me that the squirrel bears me fear."

Hmm. Williams' regard for Moore puzzled me for some time until I discovered that Moore treated Williams on the occasions that the good Doctor suffered near mental breakdown (see Paul Mariani's exhaustive biography of Williams for more on this). This professional help is the only reason I can think of for Williams' wrongheadedness.

Anyway, Blickling Hall was great. Typically however there's no mention of social relations in any of the literature and it was annoying to see a scullery maid in costume in the Hall's kitchens showing a group of children a bunch of obscure kitchen implements and how they were used 'in the past' without any mention of how this might all need further analysis. Education. Hmm.

Hall, front view.

The moat

English bond

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