Monday, 2 June 2014

Quoting from The Darling Buds of May

In my early teens  I developed a real passion for the books by H.E.Bates, (1905 - 1974). First of all I read  "Love for Lydia", "The Jacaranda tree" and "Fair stood the wind for France".  These books had just enough romance to appeal to my adolescent dreams but adventure too.
In the late fifties H:E:Bates started writing his series about the Larkin family. The first book of the series was called "The darling buds of May". I fell in love with the larger than life characters, the wonderful family atmosphere, the large family meals sitting under a cherry tree on a warm , sunny summer's day. There is so much love and warmth and humour in the books , together with a sensuality  and a deep love of the  countryside that I  connected to instantly.

The darling buds of May is a line from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease doth have all too short a date,
Sometime too hot the eye of  heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd,
But thy eternal summer shall not fade;
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to times thou grow'st;
  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
  So long lives this, and this gives live to thee.

In the first book we get to know and love Ma and Pop Larkin and their children. Their eldest daughter falls in love with Charlie the tax inspector and joins the family. As the story progresses we get to know the other members of the family, and in the last books their daughter Primrose wins over the local vicar by quoting John Donne and William Blake, in the bluebell woods.
A television series of the books was made starring Catherine Zeta Jones and vividly brings to life all the colourful characters and the beautiful Kent countryside.
I was thinking of these books today because of two of the quotes  by William Blake (1757 - 1827).

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom
The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

William Blake was thought to be a bit strange by his contemporaries but was later reconsidered as being prophetic and profound. .Anyway I always really liked those two quotes and in the books they are used in a sensuous way. William Blake seems to have had a long and happy marriage. The H.E.Bates books make you think a lot about love, between couples, families, and the people around us.This little verse is a great one about love, about its healing power.

Love to faults is always blind,
Always is to joy inclined
Lawless, winged, and unconfined,
And breaks all chains from every mind.

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