January 5, 1927: “we know what that means”

Wednesday 5th. Dull + threatening more rain. Edith took down the draperies in dining + living room + washed them. I washed a tablecloth. Audrea went to the store twice. Still a good deal of congestion in her head + chest. We expect the Parkers – Mrs. + Lu – next week so we know what that means. “Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness”. Had dinner read in “Fair Harbor” for an hour + went to bed. Did not know but Amozelle might be in to continue the pleasant time but she came not, no she came not.

Notes + Explanations:

The Parkers are friends of the family, with “Lu” (Lucy) being Edith’s best friend. But I am unfortunately unaware as of yet just what “that” means! 

Apparently no new news about the drama from Amozelle.

The quote “Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness” is from The Task, Book II, A Time-Piece by William Cowper1731 – 1800. I’ll include an excerpt below (source: poets.org), and here is an article characterizing it as a form of reticence.

Fair Harbor is a book, already mentioned in her January 2nd entry.

The last phrase of the diary entry, I believe, is also a reference to a poem: The Brookside by Richard Monckton Milnes Houghton, 1st Baron (1809–85). I’ll include excerpt of this one below as well (source: Bartlby.com). What’s interesting about this reference is that the poem appears in A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  edited by Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  Steadman (often written Stedman) is one of the family names in this branch of my ancestry, so I’d be interested to see if there’s a connection… although most likely, our dear Annie is just very knowledgable when it comes to Victorian poetry!

The Task, Book II: A Time-Piece by William Cowper [excerpt]

Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
 Some boundless contiguity of shade,
 Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
 Of unsuccessful or successful war,
 Might never reach me more! My ear is pained,
 My soul is sick with every day’s report
 Of wrong and outrage with which earth is filled.
 There is no flesh in man’s obdurate heart,
 It does not feel for man. The natural bond
 Of brotherhood is severed as the flax
 That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
 He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
 Not coloured like his own, and having power
 To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
 Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
 Lands intersected by a narrow frith
 Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
 Make enemies of nations, who had else
 Like kindred drops been mingled into one.
 Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
 And worse than all, and most to be deplored,
 As human nature’s broadest, foulest blot,
 Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
 With stripes, that mercy, with a bleeding heart,
 Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.
 Then what is man? And what man, seeing this,
 And having human feelings, does not blush
 And hang his head, to think himself a man?
 I would not have a slave to till my ground,
 To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
 And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
 That sinews bought and sold have ever earned.
 No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart’s
 Just estimation prized above all price,
 I had much rather be myself the slave
 And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him.
 We have no slaves at home—then why abroad?
 And they themselves, once ferried o’er the wave
 That parts us, are emancipate and loosed.
 Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
 Receive our air, that moment they are free,
 They touch our country and their shackles fall.
 That’s noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
 And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
 And let it circulate through every vein
 Of all your empire; that where Britain’s power
 Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.

The Brookside by Richard Monckton Milnes Houghton [excerpt]

I wandered by the brookside,
 I wandered by the mill;
 I could not hear the brook flow,-
 The noisy wheel was still;
 There was no burr of grasshopper,
 No chirp of any bird,
 But the beating of my own heart
 Was all the sound I heard.
I sat beneath the elm tree;
 I watched the long, long shade,
 And, as it grew still longer,
 I did not feel afraid;
 For I listened for a footfall,
 I listened for a word,-
 But the beating of my own heart
 Was all the sound I heard.
He came not,-no, he came not,-
 The night came on alone,-
 The little stars sat one by one,
 Each on his golden throne;
 The evening wind passed by my cheek,
 The leaves above were stirred,
 But the beating of my own heart
 Was all the sound I heard.
Fast, silent tears were flowing,
 When something stood behind;
 A hand was on my shoulder,-
 I knew its touch was kind;
 It drew me nearer,-nearer,-
 We did not speak one word,
 For the beating of our own hearts
 Was all the sound we heard.

Original Diary Pages:

© Mariana Pickering and Gnarly Roots, 2015.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (including photos) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariana Pickering and Gnarly Roots with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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