Saturday, 4 October 2014

Italy and England an eternal love story

What do Browning, Shelley, Byron, Keats and Monet have in common? They all loved Italy and England. They not only saw the beauty in both these countries they studied it thought about it and wrote about it, except Monet who painted it. Yes he's much more famous for his water lilies, but he loved the light in London and he loved the light in Venice and in his paintings he makes us love it too, if we don't already.
The downside of loving two countries is that when you are in one of them you miss the other one., but there we are.  Not everyone is like that of course. I have a friend that lives in France from March to October and the rest of the year lives in England. She will tell you that she is just fine wherever she is, and never a backward glance. But if you have family and dear friends you will miss them, I do. One of the things I miss about England is the air, the wind and the breeze, the feel of it and the smell of it. The rushing noise the trees make on a warm day and the nip in the air as the autumn dances towards winter. Instead when in England I can easily miss the sunshine, the feeling that you just know sooner or later it will come out. Everybody that spends their time between different countries will probably have things they miss, from marmite to mountains. The people I mentioned above tell us in their work that they also missed things.
Byron (1788-1824) in his long poem Beppo tells us so much about Italy and England and his keen observations and feelings about them. It is far too long to put in this post so for today I'll just quote a couple of verses that seem appropriate today.

From  Beppo


I like on Autumn evenings to ride out
Without being forced to bid my groom be sure
My cloak is round his middle strapped about,
Because the skies are not the most secure,
I know too that, if stopped upon my route,
Where the green alleys windingly allure,
Reeling with grapes red wagons choke the way -
In England 'twould be dung, dust or a dray.


I also like to dine on becaficus,
To see the Sun set, sure he'll rise tomorrow,
Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow,
But with all Heaven t'himself, the day will break as
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow
That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers
Where reeking London's smoky cauldron simmers.


England with all thy faults I love thee still,'
I said at Calais, and have not forgot it,
I like to speak and lucubrate my fill;
I like the government, (but that is not it)
I like the freedom of the press and quill;
I like the Habeas Corpus (when we've got it)
I like a parliamentary debate,
Particularly when 'tis not too late;


I like the taxes, when they're not too many
I like a seacoal fire, when not too dear;
I like a beef-steak , too, as well as any;
Have no objection to a pot of beer;
I like the weather when it is not too rainy,
That is, I like two months of every year,
And so God save the Regent, Church and King,
Which means that I like all and everything.

Beppo is very long and  the last verse is XCIX, and the last  four lines are rather endearing.

My pen is at the bottom of a page
Which being finished, here the story ends
'Tis to be wished it had been sooner done,
But stories somehow lengthen when begun.


Monet loved the light in London

and  Venice

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