Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Scarred for life
Wednesday 27th July - Gent



“How they’ll greet us!” - and all in that moment his roan 

Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;

And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight

Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,

With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,  

And with circles of red for this eye-sockets’ rim.

That little bit of gruesomeness is just one verse from Robert Browning’s piece written in 1845, “How they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix”, published in it’s entirety into our Year Six Reader in a no doubt deliberate effort to toughen up eleven year old minds in the absence of what are now called computer games.  Even at that tender age if that was the good news, I couldn’t come to grips with what the outcome might have been were the news bad!

Despite the ill-fated outcomes for Dirck and Joris en route, I can’t help but smile at what our juvenile Australian pronunciations of those very Flemish names might have been.  After a couple of years of practice we might barely make a passable rendition of them now and I’m sure the reading of the poem would be all the better for that.

On the face of it, this has nothing at all to do with the evening view from our boat but it would seem to be proof positive that sometimes at least I must have paid attention in school.  

Such was its impact on my feeble young brain that I can’t think of Gent without thinking of that poem. It’s those sometimes surprising physical connections which we regularly make with things learned in a time and place so far disconnected that is the very essence of why we do what we do.

That, and of course the sunsets.


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