Tuesday, 26 May 2009

John Masefield & Herefordshire

From an address on receiving the Freedom of the City of Hereford in 1930 "I am linked with Herefordshire by ties far deeper than I can explain. They are ties of beauty, and whenever I think of Paradise I think of parts of this county: whenever I think of any perfect human state, I think of things which I have perceived in this county; and whenever I think of the beauty and the bounty of God, I think of parts of this shire. I know of no land more full of the beauty and bounty of God than these red ploughlands and these deep woodlands so full of yew trees, those apple orchards and lovely rivers and running brooks. There is no more lovely county in this lovely land, and I cannot be thankful enough that I passed my childhood days where everybody lived on and by the land, singing when they brought their harvest home and taking such pride in their great cattle and their great horses, their apple orchards, their dovecotes and their little gardens. Men built shrines so lovely that the bright spirits who inhabit Heaven have come to earth to dwell in them, and to companion men and women so they may converse with the Divine. Up and down this shire and in so many other shires - perhaps in this county pre-eminently - there are so many of these lovely shrines which are evidence that men have gone from this earth into Paradise to come back back bringing news of the people who dwell there. When I was a little boy I looked upon these shrines and felt that they were a shadow of Paradise, and that beyond them was Paradise. Many years ago I hoped by some miracle of poetry that I might get beyond that reality to the Heaven of which these things are only a shadow, and that when I get into Heaven I might hear words so that I might come back to earth and tell men and women so that they would know and be happy. It will be a happy day for England when she realises that the true wealth of a nation is in its land and in the men and women who care for it. When men live the beauty and bounty of earth, they are more conscious of the reality of Heaven beside them."

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