This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Saturday Rave: Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge.

What will survive of us is love, said Philip Larkin.

I'm writing a pair of stories set in Tudor times, and this has given me an excuse to return to an old favourite, Towers in the Mist. The story is set in Elizabethan Oxford, and as well as the stories of Joyeuce, Faithful, and Nicholas, we are given glimpses of Walter Raleigh, Fulke Greville, and Philip Sidney. We have some of their verses, too, as chapter headings.

Perhaps this isn't really a children's book, but it was given to me as a Sunday School prize (my dad ran the Sunday School, so attendance was compulsary - though I did have the advantage of being able to choose my own prizes.)

Reading Towers in the Mist again, I'm struck by two things: firstly, the shiveringly wonderful descriptions of the countryside around Oxford.

They had left the sun behind them and walked into the country of the moon. It hung in a deep green sky and...below them the grass had changed its colour, and become a cold blue-green.

Secondly, I remember from long ago my glee at being introduced so easily to some rather obscure poets. I came away from Towers in the Mist with the young and fanciable Raleigh, Greville and (especially) Sidney quite my own.

Eventually I even discovered the significance of Raleigh's meeting the Queen's little maid, and of the arrow Sidney shoots blindly into the air.

But even though I fancied them something rotten, for me what remains of Raleigh, Sidney, Greville isn't really love.

But their stories.

Word To Use Today: story. This word has come to us from the Anglo-French estorie, from the Latin historia, the Greek historein, which means to narrate, and before that from histōr, judge.

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