Tuesday, 12 April 2016

A Shakespearean Spring

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim
Has put a spirit of youth in every thing.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 98 2-3

From my desk I have a view of the garden and when I look up I can see the toings and froings of birds to two different nests.  If I crane my neck, I can see the steady construction and furnishing with feathers and moss of two more.  The 'spirit of youth' - energy, hope and forward-looking - is in every thing.  It's infectious.  

As well as writing and sowing vegetable seeds, one of my April projects is to learn more about Shakespeare and his world.  I'll be beginning a ten week online course offered completely free of charge through FutureLearn.  The lead educator on the course is Professor Jonathan Bate, a Shakespearean expert.  The course coincides with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death on 23rd April which seems a fitting time for the first full dipping of my toe into the Shakespearean pond since A levels.  It's an exciting prospect!  The course starts on 18th April and is open to all, no previous experience or qualifications required.  Simply sign up here.    

April is the month of sunshine and showers: this April is a golden example.  I love the way Shakespeare captures the wonderful duality of the month and the uniqueness with which it seems to stand between seasons 'proud pied April'.  When you're a 'pro', a few words suffice!  It also reminded me of another poem I found recently which revels in the 'pied' nature of things, Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Glory be to God for dappled things - 

it begins.  I'm not sure whether it's exactly what he had in mind but it conjured for me the French expression, 'Vive la Différence' , an invitation, an exhortation even, to celebrate what makes each of us, and everything, different, special, dare I say 'eccentric' if we chose to embrace it.  Perhaps he was thinking along these lines. Later in the poem he writes:

'All things counter, original, spare, strange; ...' 

but for me both of them remind me of the yin and yang of nature; the notion that all things contain something of their opposite within them.  You cannot have one without the other.  

I'm going to be writing my own April poem this week, featuring the first swallow of the year.  First though, and rather against my will, I am writing a dementia related poem.  It will be about losing the line of communication and it seems to be forcing my hand to be written.  Dementia is something I don't write about usually because reflecting on it brings pain into the creative mix. Yet here is where I do have an authentic voice.  So this will be the pied nature of my work this week.  I am also taking my first baby steps towards thinking about a longer piece of work.  April is certainly a brisk, no-nonsense kind of month!

Next week I hope to share some thoughts on how yoga is helping me write.  It may seem a bit of a stretch (pun intended) but I do feel the patient, regular and structured practice is opening creative doors.  

Whatever your creative projects are this week, I wish you well.

Kelly x            

All of the wonderful photos on this blog are by Andrew Holman

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