Friday, 22 July 2016

Crown thy good with brotherhood

4th July 2016 - American Independence Day in Saltaire

Crown thy good with brotherhood/From sea to shining sea

After the ball was over, it was 4th July – Independence Day for Americans (although apparently John Adams expected it to be remembered on July 2nd when they agreed the Declaration, rather than the 4th when the Founding Fathers signed it.) A perfect day, therefore, to celebrate by mooching around Saltaire, the Victorian model village built by Titus Salt for his factory workers at a time of great Optimism and Hope for the Future, surely what the Thirteen Colonies hoped when they broke away from Britain.
Path to Top Withins

Path to Top Withins

I never tire of walking visitors up to Top Withins above Haworth. There is something primal about the place, suffused with the memories of the Brontës, spread across the horizon in a patchwork of moorland and bog. It’s one of the first places I want to come when I’ve been away (ref: The precious jewel of thy home return.) On July 4th 2016 Sally and I accompanied Americans Kerry and Kiffen “up Top Withins” (“Happy Independence Day!”) whereas the last time I brought Kerry we were with her sparky daughter, Norah (ref: Out on the winding, windy moors.)

A crucial place to reflect

At crucial times of my life (including, according to Kerry’s blog memories, turning points for my future life) the moors around Haworth have been indispensable for blowing away the cobwebs, seeing problems more clearly, de-stressing, de-compressing, getting perspective, looking back, looking forward and taking stock (ref: Beginning to Look Back.) It’s a place that can arouse strong primitive emotions.

Emily Brontë’s poetry

This visit wasn’t laced with purple as some previous visits have been (ref: Summer Days) but as Emily Brontë’s poetry makes clear the changing landscapes and weather connect profoundly to the feelings inside:

(Untitled undated stanzas by Emily Brontë)

I'll walk where my own nature would be leading:
It vexes me to choose another guide:
Where the grey flocks in ferny glens are feeding;
Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side.

What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?
More glory and more grief than I can tell:
The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling
Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.

from A Little While (by Emily Brontë 4 December 1838)

A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.

That was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway's sweep,
That, winding o'er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.

Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy's power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.

Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.
Time for afternoon tea in Haworth....