Saturday, 28 July 2012

Poetry Saturday . . . Miss Thompson Goes Shopping

In her lone cottage on the downs,
With winds and blizzards and great crowns
Of shining cloud, with wheeling plover
And short grass sweet with the small white clover,
Miss Thompson lived, correct and meek,
A lonely spinster, and every week
On market-day she used to go
Into the little town below,
Tucked in the great downs' hollow bowl,
Like pebbles gathered in a shoal.

So, having washed her plates and cup
And banked the kitchen fire up,
Miss Thompson slipped upstairs and dressed,
Put on her black (the second best),
The bonnet trimmed with rusty plush,
Peeped in the glass with simpering blush,
From the camphor-smelling cupboard took
Her thicker jacket off the hook
Because the day might turn to cold.
Then, ready, slipped downstairs and rolled
The hearthrug back; then searched about,
Found her basket, ventured out,
Snecked the door and paused to lock it
And plunged the key in some deep pocket.

Then as she tripped demurely down
The steep descent, the little town
Spread wider till it's sprawling street
Enclosed her and her footfalls beat
On hard stone pavement; and she felt
Those throbbing ecstasies that melt
Through heart and mind, as, happy, free,
Her small, prim personality
Merged into the seething strife
Of auction-marts and city life.
~Martin Armstrong

(This is the only photograph I could find of the author.)

Miss Thompson Goes Shopping’ was first published in 1921 and is probably the poem for which Martin Armstrong (1882-1974), one of the so-called ‘Georgian Poets’, is best known today. The poem is a piece of pure fun and one can’t help picturing Armstrong smiling to himself as he wrote it. It tells of a shopping trip in the days before supermarkets, detailing the characterful shops and shop-keepers and an irresistible impulse buy. I have shown here this morning only two of the many verses of this poem as it is quite extensive. Perhaps another day I will show the rest. I have fallen quite in love with it myself . . . I can so perfectly picture this old spinster getting ready to have a day out in town . . . If you would like to read the rest of this poem, you can find it here.

Martin Armstrong was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1882 and educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College Cambridge. His first publication of poems appeared in 1912. He served during 1914-1915 in the 2nd Artist Rifles, then commissioned into the 8th Middlesex Regiment from 1915 through to the end of the war, demobbed in 1919. He served in France on the Western Front. His book. Buzzards and other Poems was published in 1921. Martin Armstrong died in 1974.

Oh how I do so love poetry . . . what a beautiful skill it is to be able to paint such a picture with only words . . .

I had a great day yesterday. It was so much fun cooking at the church Youth Camp. There were a few of us and we worked perfectly together in harmony. It was quite a joy, and inspiring to see the youth enjoying themselves. So polite they were and fun to watch too. Happy to say that not all young people are ill mannered and badly behaved. It was very nice to see, and to be able to serve such a large group of young people who are able to keep standards and still have fun.

The sun is shining again this morning. Not sure what I will get up to today, but whatever it is, I am sure you'll find out about it soon enough! My life is an open book! Must dash, but not before leaving you with some food for thought for the day . . .

"Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins."
~John Welwood

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Berry and White Chocolate Pudding.

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