So, we'll go no more a roving
So we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon
Me and George go way back.... As an enthusiastic, youthful (?) teacher in Rome, at St George's English School, there was a plan to restructure the pastoral system at the school. We were invited to suggest names for the four houses-to-be. My friend Michael and I, aided by a couple of bottles of wine and an Olivetti typewriter, had a go at coming up with possibilities. To cut the story short, Uranus was not a favourite (apparently it would not be appropriate on away fixtures) but, ultimately, despite considerable opposition from Hendrik Deelman, the then Principal, I got gold with Byron, a man with huge popularity in Italy, a man who succeeded in extraordinary swims (the Tagus, the Bosphorus) despite his disability (sometimes thought to be a club foot).....
Byron and I have been friends since.
We are a long way from those days. I painted my classroom wall red as the house colour; I did my best to be the pastoral leader that I felt my students needed; I accepted that the other houses (Drake - blue; Newton - yellow; Livingstone - green) could be tolerated (it wasn't always the pupil's fault that they were not in Byron....)
Ah well. That was then.
To bring us to the now.... Last night, having gone to bed very early (don't ask) I made my way downstairs in the dark and noticed my wife's dementia-friendly clock. It said 9:11. Was this a portent?
I write this in the wake of the death of a friend. With reference to the school in Italy above, I heard this week that Martyn Hales, recently-retired Principal of St George's, had left this world. The world is, perhaps, too much with us, but when our friends start fading away, and you yourself wake up unrefreshed and tired every morning, the question becomes, what is it all about? RIP Martyn - you were great.....
Ultimately, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans (pace, John Lennon)..... Much is to be loved and enjoyed, but not everyone has their fair share. I used to think that a lifetime was something like a donut. Hendrix, Mozart, Jim Morrison, Achilles - perhaps they simply used up their allowance faster and more effectively than those who lived to the high numbers....?
I also used to think that I might not live beyond 25.
So I was wrong.
If this is living.....
However, Byron lived to be 36. He wrote the poem (above) at the age of 29, reflecting on his excesses during the Carnival of Venice. He sent the poem in a letter to his friend Thomas Moore who then published it in 1830.
We won't be roving very much more..... At least the roving will be, shall we say, contained?
The cold breath of mortality raises the hairs on my neck. But then, to tell the truth, if the grim reaper visits me in the night and I wake to the cool touch of Charon by the bank of the Styx I hope I might adopt a reasonable response......
Very little separates the living from the dead - it's just a breath away......
Byron lived a life that horrified the staid, but which justifiably inspired others. I wish we could go roving for ever; I wish we could all walk in beauty in the night; I regret my infirmity and my wife's decline, but I recognise that as the world whirls about in space orbiting within and without control, we must acknowledge our insignificance and forget self-importance for a moment, as the moment, this very moment, is all we have.
I received an email from New Zealand this morning. It was from someone I was associated with in 1968 who had come across one of my blogs (possibly The Battle of Blenheim, but maybe Highlands.... please feel free to look them up).
Life is short. It is really good to keep in touch.
Thank you Paul.
Thank you everyone....
Love itself must rest