Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Pretty memories

August 15th: good day for a couple of pretty pictures. And I don’t mean to do with the feast of the Assumption, which will be celebrated more than enough around the world, especially in most countries with Catholic roots, where it's usually a day off.

We moved house last Friday and I spent some time putting books out on shelves. One was a favourite of mine: a coffee-table sized edition of the Rubayiat of Omar Khayyam with illustrations by Edmund Dulac. If you like Art Nouveau painting at all, then Dulac will knock your socks off. 

So here’s pretty picture number 1, his illustration for one of the most famous quatrains of the poem:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
 A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
 Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
 And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
But the volume contains another picture, a pencil portrait of a woman.

Pretty picture number 2:

My grandmother.
Half the age I am now
It was from her, my grandmother, that I inherited the book and, of course, the portrait. It’s dated 1930. She was born in 1900.

When I was a child, it seemed to me that my grandmother was incredibly old, like most grandparents to their grandchildren. Why, when I first knew her she was in her fifties. It was almost shocking that anyone could be that old, a chastening thought now that I
’m seven years older than she was when I was born. Besides, I’m a grandparent myself these days.

And there’s that picture of her when she was a mere sprig of a thing at thirty...

I enjoy looking at it and remembering her, especially on 15 August, her birthday.

So, Grandma, happy birthday and thanks for the book and the great images. 

Or perhaps I should just say:

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies; 
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown forever dies.


Anonymous said...

I have often thought that having bread, wine, a book of verse, a dame AND Wilderness was an eminent example of "an embarrassment of riches".
May I wish you more than that in your new abode.


David Beeson said...

No wilderness (unless Luton itself is the wilderness) but bread, wine, verse and a woman mean the new home is fine. Especially that we now have hot water.