Stars In The Sky At Dawn : Enduring Memories of Childhood

Funeral Poems for Loved Ones
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Other writers have given us sympathetic descriptions of traditional rural life - George Bourne in Change in the Village , for example, Mary Russell Mitford's Our Village and, in fiction, Elizabeth Gaskell the bookish Laura dotes on Cranford.

But these were all witnesses from a background of relative gentility, not possessed of "the indigenous eye". Thompson was exceptional in being a child of the rural working class. As Margaret Lane has written, "She was able to write the annals of the poor because she was one of them. Lark Rise was written half a century after the events it records. The author's recollections of her childhood, and of a world that had partly vanished, are poignant but never sentimental, as they might have been 20 years earlier.

Her exquisite detailing of manners and language is brushed with just a hint of detachment and reflection. Both nuances lift the book out of the realm of simple social documentary into creative literature. At times Thompson seems to be working like a novelist, merging places, hybridising characters, juggling anecdote and memoir and social history. Her most accomplished literary device was the introduction into the text of "Laura", her young self, a character who is both a participant in the story and an observer of it one chapter is entitled "Laura Looks On".

Although the whole text is autobiographical, Thompson never speaks in the first person. Laura is there as an implicit witness: what you read, she has experienced. But this use of the third person isn't taken to contrived lengths.

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Thompson has too much to say on her own behalf to let Laura narrate the book, and most of the storylines are formally uncomplicated: a grown-up is reflecting on her past, and interpreting it through the lens of everything she has read and seen in the years since. But then, just when the narrative seems to be drifting towards routine social history, up pops Laura, looks at the situation differently from her grown-up self, has a fit of the giggles and owns up to hanging on to a bottle of sea water as a lucky charm. She is a kind of filter or arbitrator, mediating between Thompson's imagination and the world she left behind.

This was sophisticated stuff for a labourer's daughter who left school at the age of Thompson became a writer by a gradual process of detachment from her roots and insinuation into a literary culture. What happened between her life in Juniper Hill and her reconstruction of it 50 years later is important in understanding the kind of record Lark Rise is. Her early years are the subject of the book and don't need much repeating here. He was a skilled mason, but, Thompson recounts, a frustrated one, who had dreamed of being a sculptor when he was a young man.

His job description on the baptism notices of his 10 children four died in infancy follows an erratic course, which may reflect his fondness for drink, as well as the radical politics that made him unpopular in the village. He is a simple labourer at Thompson's baptism in , a mason in , and in is down to a bricklayer again.

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If her father's disaffection helped form her social attitudes, her mother Emma fostered her love of storytelling. She was a local girl who'd left school at 12, and was a nursemaid at a nearby rectory when she married. Thompson talks fondly of her mother's love of traditional songs and her gift for telling stories.

She herself was also making up stories from the beginning, fixing in words and in her memory her acute and insatiably curious observations of everything from petticoat styles to pig killing. She regarded herself as a failure at the National School in nearby Cottisford Fordlow in the text , but was an accomplished and obsessive reader. Books, she stresses, were always available to those who wanted them. They could be borrowed from schoolteachers and the Mechanics' Institutes libraries, even from the gentry, and Thompson gobbled them up, classic fiction and penny romance alike.

When she ran out of stories, she read dictionaries. In Candleford, she had a reading pact with her uncle Tom. Thompson may have inclined to solitariness, but she was bright and creative in her own way, and when it was time for her to join the diaspora of village girls, she went not into service, but to the post office in Fringford, a village three miles to the south-east. The postmistress, Dorcas Lane who was also the owner of the adjoining smithy , was an unconventional career woman, modern in her moral views, but with old-fashioned good taste and a high sense of decorum.

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She broadened young Thompson's outlook, giving her the opportunity to tour the parish on postal deliveries and introducing her to new ideas and books, including Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Thompson smuggled a copy of Byron's Don Juan off her bookshelves and read it under the bedclothes.

She admired Lane's style, her sharpness, her quiet independence, her dapper clothes. And it was the metaphor-hungry Thompson, I think, rather than Laura, who loved the way the telegraph machine, covered up with a tea cosy, sat next to Lane's exquisite antique furniture. When Thompson left Fringford at some time in her late teens, she had a new self-confidence, but also a kind of restlessness. She relished her periods of solitude, her long tramps about the countryside on letter delivery, her maturing love and understanding of the natural world.

Perhaps she already had dreams of being a Byron or a Gaskell. But Lark Rise ends with her departure from Fringford, and the next time we hear from Flora - and about Laura - it is and she is working in a post office in Grayshott, near Haslemere in Surrey. She wrote a new book about this period, just after she had finished Candleford Green, in about It had a title, Heatherley, but Thompson was dissatisfied with the text and didn't attempt to have it published.

It appeared posthumously in and fills in some of the details of Thompson's life in her early 20s.

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Otherwise it isn't a distinguished book. Laura too was a transient, an incomer, and had lost the childhood charm that Thompson had relied on to mellow her stories in Lark Rise.

Heatherley is chiefly interesting for the clues it gives to Thompson's growing interest in writing - and in other writers. The "Surrey Highlands" around Grayshott were swarming with them.

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Stars In The Sky At Dawn: Enduring Memories of Childhood is based on actual events; and presents personal stories that shaped the life and experiences of the author while growing up in the small, close-knit community she calls Canary Hall, on a. Stars In The Sky At Dawn Enduring Memories of Childhood is based on actual events and presents personal stories that shaped the life and experiences of the​.

Conan Doyle was forever "bursting like a breeze into the post office and filling it with his fine presence". So were Bernard Shaw with his "forked red beard and quick, searching eyes" , the novelist Grant Allen and the young poet Richard Le Gallienne. Laura admits to being star-struck by these authors, but Thompson was sceptical of their influence on her.

Perhaps these 'great examples' encouraged my desire to express myself in writing, but I cannot remember the time when I did not wish and mean to write. My brother and I used to make up verses and write stories and diaries from our earliest years, and I had never left off writing essays for the pleasure of writing. No one saw them; there was no one likely to be interested. In Heatherley, alas, Laura is tight-lipped about her emotional life, as if Thompson remembers her year-old self as a shy and embarrassed woman, and doesn't want to second-guess her.

But there's a revealing moment that shows just how far her thought processes were driven by an interior storytelling, and how her views about human relationships were developing also, incidentally, how expert she was becoming in natural history.

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And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. O, while you are here, Grasp life with both hands And pour your passion into living, For who knows when you or yours May be snatched away, Out of the toil and the moil, Out of our present existence. Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing boy, But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy;. Transition begets renewal. View 2 comments. She was born to a 15 years old mother, living with her grandparents and ant. There are a couple of nicely done chapters on his near-fatal airplane crash in as well as his most famous near-death experience, 24 days adrift at sea after a plane that he was a passenger in got lost over the Pacific and had to set down in the middle of the ocean.

She is walking with two friends over the heathland nearby, when they find a patch of heather "netted and dragged down" by the tendrils of a parasite. It would be the story of a man or woman - she thought a woman - of fine, sensitive nature, bound by some tie - probably marriage - to one of a nature which was strong, coarse and encroaching, and would tell how, in time, the heather person shrank and withered, while the dodder one fattened and prospered. It seems a premonitory insight, in many ways. She met a young post office clerk from Aldershot called John Thompson, and when he was transferred to the main office in Bournemouth, they married.

They had a son and daughter, Basil and Winifred, but the marriage was no happy joining of kindred souls. John was provincial and aggressively class-conscious; he derided her taste for books and her writing ambitions. From 'neath the castle's dark retreat, Her silent way she wended, Each evening to the window seat Where Lucifer attended. And secretly, with never fail, She watched his gracious pace, Where vessels drew their pathless trail Across the ocean's face. London etc. Hyperion senses her attention and gazes back, and, although a non-physical entity , also begins to desire her company.

In one such a moment, she moans for him to "glide down upon a ray" and become her betrothed. Urged on by this command, the Morning Star hurls himself into the sea, reemerging as a "fair youth", or "handsome corpse with living eyes". However, within days she returns to dreaming of the Morning Star and unconsciously asking for him to "glide down". She again expresses her refusal, and compares Hyperion's new form to that of a daimon. In this restated form, her refusal reads:.

This requires him to travel to the edge of the Universe , into a cosmic void. Once there, the Demiurge laughs off his request; he informs Hyperion that human experience is futile, and that becoming human would be a return to "yesterday's eternal womb". He orders Hyperion back to his celestial place, obliquely telling him that something "in store" on Earth will prove the point.

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The poem's "tragic denouement allots each of the three lovers their own sphere with frontiers impossible to trespass. She gazes back and calls on him, but only as a witness to, and good-luck charm for, her new love. The last two stanzas show Hyperion returning to his silent, self-absorbed, activities:. Yet he no more, as yesterday, Falls down into the sea; "What dost thou care, o shape of clay, If it is I or he? You live accompanied by weal In your all-narrow fold, Whilst in my boundless world I feel Both deathless and dead cold.

As noted by the editor Perpessicius , during the interwar a "most absurd" urban legend had spread, according to which Eminescu had written the poem on the night train taking him to Bucharest. Entire portions of the later poem also surface in another piece of the period.

During these exchanges, the work acquired its celebrated final stanza. Maiorescu endorsed the work and promoted it with public readings in both Bucharest and Buftea , lasting into January , and attended by Eminescu, Petre P. Carp , Alexandru B. Around November , as he began work on a first edition of Eminescu's collected poems, Maiorescu decided to cut out four stanzas—those detailing negotiations between Hyperion and Demiurge—, in an effort to improve flow.