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Monday, 21 August 2017

William Barnes and Bridport; Bridport Harbour; Bridport School of Art; Literary and Scientific Institute

I spent a fascinating morning with Marion Tait, Honorary Curator of the William Barnes Gallery and Archive at the Dorset County Museum. I had booked a three-hour research slot at the Archive, and Marion had, almost miraculously, found the very items I was hoping to study.

I have a special connection with Bridport and West Bay, where my mother lived for twenty-five years, and I had always been interested in Barnes' poem Bridport Harbour, which I first read in the second volume of The Poems of William Barnes, edited by Bernard Jones (1962). Jones has a note on Bridport Harbour, which begins: "Barnes wrote these stanzas for Louisa Colfox who, as she wrote in a letter of thanks on the day after they were written, was trying 'to replenish the empty purse of the Treasurer of the Art School' at Bridport. They were printed by Frost of Bridport in a small, green paper backed booklet with a title page: A POEM,/WRITTEN BY THE/REV. WILLIAM BARNES,/FOR/THE BENEFIT/OF THE/BRIDPORT SCHOOL OF ART. Mrs. Colfox also had the booklet illustrated with views of Bridport Harbour, or West Bay as it became at the wish of the railways which are now leaving it to its fate, and two of these, though not the same two, were pasted into each copy. The text of the poem was signed and dated the 29th July, 1872".

Many years later, I bought a copy of the 1954 Jubilee Year edition of the Dorset Year Book (at Bridport's Saturday Market), which contained Bridport Harbour, and a note on the poem by Giles Dugdale.

Dugdale writes:

"The poem was written 'For the benefit of The Bridport School of Art' which, like the Institute, was founded and fostered by the Colfox family and their friends. William Barnes many times lectured for them to raise funds for its support...The Bridport poem was printed and illustrated by photographs of West Bay, looking east and west. It contained a misprint, as will be seen from the letter he wrote to Mrs. Colfox:

                                                                                                            Came Rectory,

                                                                                                              7th of August, 1872.

Dear Mrs. Colfox,

                I thank you for the booklings. You have made a nice little thing of my rhymes. I hope it will be of some service to the school. The compositor has misread one word. "Crest" in the 5th line should be "crew".          

                            With kind regards all round,

                                                                        Yours truly.

                                                                                     W. BARNES

I was very excited when Marion Tait produced for my inspection an original copy of the rare "bookling". This copy was presented to the Dorset County Museum by Mr. Henry Symonds in May 1931.

I reproduce my hasty photographs of some pages and the two illustrations here (with the permission of the archivist) with the intention that my posting will be linked to the excellent William Barnes Society website.

Marion Tait had also found other relevant items, posters and letters. William Barnes gave lectures and readings at the Literary and Scientific Institute in Bridport:

The members of the Literary and Scientific Institute wanted Barnes to read his poems rather than to give a lecture on a topic of his suggestion which "may not be so generally acceptable".

In Paris and New York - "Wish You Were Here"!

Family photos, just received.

Dorchester, Thomas Hardy Country (Facebook)

Although I'm not on Facebook, this seems a useful guide to what's going on in and around Dorchester

"This page is for everyone who loves Dorchester! We will be posting news, photos, stories and more about Dorset's historic county town. Mission -Join us to share stories, ideas, photos and videos of your favourite places in Dorchester. Become part of our community to discuss questions and ideas about visiting, living and working in Dorchester".

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Petrarch, Sir Thomas Wyatt and William Barnes: Sonnet 189, two translations from the Italian

Petrarch, Sonnet 189

Passa la nave mia colma d'oblio
per aspro mare, a mezza notte il verno,
enfra Scilla et Caribdi; et al governo
siede 'l signore, anzi 'l nimico mio.

A ciascun remo un penser pronto et rio
che la tempesta e 'l fin par ch'abbi a scherno;
la vela rompe un vento humido eterno
di sospir', di speranze, et di desio.

Pioggia di lagrimar, nebbia di sdegni
bagna et rallenta le già stanche sarte,
che son d'error con ignorantia attorto.

Celansi i duo mei dolci usati segni;
morta fra l'onde è la ragion et l'arte,
tal ch'incomincio a desperar del porto

Sir Thomas Wyatt's version:

My galley charged with forgetfulness
   Thorough sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
   ‘Tween rock and rock; and eke mine enemy, alas,
   That is my lord, steereth with cruelness;
And every oar a thought in readiness,
   As though that death were light in such a case.
   An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
   Of forced sighs, and trusty fearfulness.
A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain,
   Hath done the wearied cords great hinderance;
   Wreathed with error and eke with ignorance,
The stars be hid that led me to this pain;
   Drowned is reason that should me consort,
And I remain despairing of the port.

William Barnes' translation (from William Barnes of Dorset, Giles Dugdale, 1953)

Barnes included his translation in a letter to Julia Miles (his wife-to-be), dated Mere, December 4, 1826. He tells her that he translated it for amusement, adding that "it suited my case at that that time in some points". 


Another Petrarch Sonnet, Una Candida Cerva, set to music by my great friend, the late Raul Scacchi

La Rochelle, France: Two Paintings of the Port

The Port at La Rochelle, Albert Marquet

Jean Rigaud, The entrance to the Port of La Rochelle

The "Best Places" to Live in the UK: Top Twenty, 2017, Halifax Quality of Life Index

Good news for some...

From Lauen Weymouth,  Love Money via MSN

"The tenth annual Halifax Quality of Life Index has ranked 250 districts across the UK to find out where living standards are highest. The research looked at 24 categories including average earnings, employment, health, life expectancy, personal well-being, education and broadband speed".

West Dorset at No. 15:

"The district of West Dorset, which includes towns such as Dorchester, Sherborne, Bridport and Beaminster, jumped up 19 places this year from position 34 in 2015. It is also ranked as the best place to retire to, due to high life expectancy, good health and general affluence".

Purbeck came No 7:

"This Dorset region, which is home to Corfe Castle, Wool, Swanage and Bovington, scored seventh place this year, after not making the top 50 last year. Much like the rest of Dorset, Purbeck is popular for retirees and families alike, as it is one of the safest, most affluent and picturesque areas in the UK".

Winchester came top:


"The district of Winchester in Hampshire won the top spot in this year's survey. It had one of the highest employment rates in all 250 districts included in the research at 83.1%, compared to a UK average of 73.7%. Crime rates are also among the lowest in the country and the adult population is among the happiest, satisfied, content and least anxious in the UK".

Another article, from The Sunday Times, Money section, August 20, 2017 : Sussex pips Dorset for best retirement

"West Sussex has overtaken Dorset as the best place to retire, according to research from the insurer Prudential last week. The group’s Quality of Retirement Index analyses data about the numbers of pensioners as a proportion of the population of each county; disability-free life expectancy; pension income; and indicators such as crime levels and what the weather is like. The index places Dorset in second place, with East Sussex, Devon and Norfolk following close behind".

Prudential report (pdf)

Last year, Dorset came top - "Best place to retire? Dorset is top of the pops!"

I keep thinking of Grenfell Tower - and the shocking North-South disparities and statistics that were published recently:

People in north England are 20 per cent more likely to die young, New Scientist