Long A-Growing

On this thoroughly miserable weekend (not helped by waking at 4.00 to the crowing, not of a cockerel, but Glenn McGrath) let us make a nostalgic pilgrimage to the site of the Stump.  Long time readers may be wondering whether it has somehow – hope against hope! – managed to revive, but I’m afraid the answer is that its mortal remains still slumber in the earth and the grass has begun to cover it.

Stump November 2013

I am reminded of the old song …

The trees they do grow high and the leaves they do grow green,
The day is passed and gone, my love, that you and I have seen.
It’s on a cold winter’s night that I must lie alone,
For the bonny boy is young but a-growing.

At the age of sixteen he was a married man,
And at the age of seventeen the father to a son,
And at the age of eighteen his grave it did grow green.
Cruel death had put an end to his growing.

 

Stump Watch : Coda

A resurrection of sorts for Easter.  Not too far away from the remains of The Stump the authorities have planted a sapling horse chestnut.  I wish it well, although the last time they tried this it was swiftly snapped in half by vandals.  I don’t think I shall be reporting regularly on its progress, although it might feature occasionally.

Stump Watch Coda Easter 2013

For anyone curious as to how The Stump might have developed, if left to its own devices, here is a wild horse chestnut of a similar age to the sapling, a short walk along the Brampton Valley Way, as approached from Little Bowden.  At this early stage in its development there are several branches that have the potential to develop into a trunk.  In time, all but one will die away or be destroyed and all the strength of the tree will be concentrated in the surviving branch.

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Stump Watch : The End

I’m afraid this really is The End, my friends.  A week ago the Stump was showing signs of ailing.  Dry rot had set in on one side.  Someone had hacked lumps off it and strewn them all over the Rec.

Stump Watch February 2013

The Stump had, however, survived one previous assassination attempt (in January a year ago) and I was hopeful that this latest setback would prove a mere interruption to its continuing story of resurrection and renascence in the face of adversity.  However, this was the scene that greeted me this morning:

Stump Watch - The End

Well and truly and radically extirpated, I’m afraid, and (as football commentators are prone to saying in less dramatic circumstances)  it’ll take a miracle to come back from this.

When I have gathered my thoughts I shall try to compose some suitable epitaph for the Stump.  For the moment, though, I suppose it’s a good job I didn’t identify with the Stump too closely.

Stump Watch For January 2013 (with a contribution by D.G. Rossetti)

Belatedly, the Stump in January, looking a little like a Christmas pudding with sparklers stuck into it:

Stump Watch January 2013

and, as a bonus, the Stump in context.  It does have an awfully long way to go to regain its former glory, as you will see.

Stump Watch January 2013 2

These scenes may, perhaps, prompt a sigh of regret – “Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?”  Or perhaps not.  It is one of those phrases, like “whatever happened to the crispy bacon we used to have before the war?” or “I understand he speaks very highly of you” that I tend to slip into the conversation without really knowing what they mean or where they come from.

“Mais, où sont les neiges …” is actually the refrain of a poem by François Villon – Ballade des dames du temps jadis – that was popularised in England by Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s 1870 translation as The ballad of dead ladies.  Rossetti couldn’t find an exact English equivalent for “antan“, so he invented his own word “yester-year”.  The neologism caught on and is now, of course, a great favourite of DJs on oldies radio stations.  Here is Rossetti’s poem:

.

Ballad of Dead Ladies

Tell me now in what hidden way is
Lady Flora the lovely Roman?
Where’s Hipparchia, and where is Thais,
Neither of them the fairer woman?
Where is Echo, beheld of no man,
Only heard on river and mere–
She whose beauty was more than human?–
But where are the snows of yester-year?

Where’s Heloise, the learned nun,
For whose sake Abeillard, I ween,
Lost manhood and put priesthood on?
(From Love he won such dule and teen!)
And where, I pray you, is the Queen
Who willed that Buridan should steer
Sewed in a sack’s mouth down the Seine?–
But where are the snows of yester-year?

White Queen Blanche, like a queen of lilies,
With a voice like any mermaiden–
Bertha Broadfoot, Beatrice, Alice,
And Ermengarde the lady of Maine–
And that good Joan whom Englishmen
At Rouen doomed and burned her there–
Mother of God, where are they then?–
But where are the snows of yester-year?

Nay, never ask this week, fair lord,
Where they are gone, nor yet this year,
Except with this for an overword–
But where are the snows of yester-year?

 

Stump Watch For November 2012

1: And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
2: The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3: And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

Stump Watch November 2012

21: And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22: While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.