Monday, 9 July 2007

Drowning ancestors from walls of rhetoric

When there were men standing on walls purveying their rhetoric for a crowd's soul, one of my ancestors wrote poetry in the depths of a coal mine. Margaret has an ancestor who used to give advice to sheep on how best to secure themselves booty from shipwrecks on the South Wales coast. George's Great Grandfather canoed to India without a paddle. Cookie, meanwhile, insists she has no ancestors at all. Which is an intriguing thought.

As we drank tea in the sunshine this morning, Felix reminded me of the poet in my past, by alluding to Percy Bysshe Shelley and his drowning under rather disputed circumstances in 1822. From his vantage point overlooking the sea, Felix says he's seen several drownings in his time, including that of his ancestor, Tifanny, who was born in 1734.

In the surgery, Mr Bronson was sitting with a poetic swelling under his left eye. Mr Bronson tells me that suffering with pain is a goal worth striving for, that it brings about an elevation of the soul. Given his self-contentment I was rather ashamed to suggest that I might truncate this spiritual uplifting by removing the remnant of a tooth that was its cause.

I wondered if Mr Bronson might have felt the need to proclaim the merits of pain and suffering to the world from the top of walls. He said he proclaimed many things to the world, but only when he was alone on a sailing boat in the middle of the sea where nobody could hear him.

Which brings me back to my ancestor who wrote his poems on the mine wall, and then cut the wall for coal.

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