Wednesday 23 May 2012

In the Garden with T.E. Brown

At last the weather has relented, the sun is out, the air is warm, and last night I was able to enjoy that supreme expression of the suburban idyll - sitting out in the garden in the cool of the evening as dusk comes on, watching the wheeling swifts and enjoying the song of the blackbirds. The swifts have finally taken possession of the skies again, after a long hesitant period when they must have been wondering if they'd overshot and ended up somewhere near the Arctic Circle - and the blackbirds were in fine full-throated voice. How we'd treasure the blackbird's song - and indeed the beauty of the bird - if it was more of a rarity, like the nightingale, instead of a familiar of every garden... At some point in these garden evenings, one of us - I or Mrs N - is always liable to come out with the line, 'O blackbird, what a boy you are! How you do go it!' A regular presence in older editions of the ODQ, it comes from a poem called Vespers by T.E. Brown, the 'Manx national poet':

'O blackbird, what a boy you are!
How you do go it!
Blowing your bugle to that one sweet star -
How you do blow it!
And does she hear you, blackbird boy, so far?
or is it wasted breath?
'Good Lord! she is so bright
The blackbird saith.'

More of an exclamation than a poem perhaps, Vespers has a certain robust charm - at least it avoids the vapid lyricism of many Victorian apostrophes to our feathered friends. Despite his status as Manx national poet, Brown, a considerable scholar, spent most of his working life as a much-loved master at Clifton College, before retiring back to his island home. He died on a return visit to Clifton, having just mounted the podium to address the boys. T.E. is also responsible for this effusion, titled My Garden:

'A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Ferned grot--
The veriest school
Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not--
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
'Tis very sure God walks in mine.'

Hmm. The first line of this can also be rendered as 'A garden is a lovesome thing? God! What?!'  


  1. I think everything composed made a ton of sense.

    However, consider this, suppose you added a little information?
    I mean, I don't want to tell you how to run your blog, however what if you added something that makes people desire more? I mean "In the Garden with T.E. Brown" is a little plain. You should look at Yahoo's
    front page and see how they write post titles to grab viewers to open the links.
    You might add a video or a related pic or two to get people interested about what you've written. Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.

    Visit my weblog: exposed skin care coupons

  2. These are genuinely enormous ideas in on the topic of blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    Stop by my site I was reading this

  3. Hi to every one, since I am really eager of reading this website's post to be updated regularly. It carries fastidious information.

    Look into my blog ... found It for you

  4. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a leisure account it.

    Look advanced to more brought agreeable from
    you! By the way, how can we communicate?

    Feel free to surf to my web page; homepage

  5. Yes! Finally something about runden.

    Here is my website - directory

  6. Having read this I thought it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together.

    I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Have a look at my homepage:

  7. I am really delighted to glance at this weblog posts which contains plenty of helpful
    facts, thanks for providing these data.

    Review my blog ... updated blog post

  8. It's truly very complex in this active life to listen news on Television, therefore I just use world wide web for that purpose, and take the most recent information.

    Feel free to visit my blog post rent a bungalow