On Monday I went down to see my mother. The weather favoured going out, so we took a trip to the New Forest, which is always restorative, even when you're seeing it from the inside of a car (which, given my mother's relative immobility, was our case). Whenever I read in poetry about "a pleasant mount", I think of this grassy knoll on the edge of Lyndhurst, the photo of which does it no justice at all:
For lnhammer's interest, I took pictures of the ponies and cattle that blocked our road (as was their right to do).
A gang of donkeys was also considering barging athwart the car at Beaulieu, but reconsidered at the last moment. On we went, south to the beach at Lepe, where (in full view of the Isle of Wight, the 1950s aura of which is clearly wafting across the Solent in this picture) the toddlers of England maintain night and day their gallant attempt to clear the beach of stones.
Driving to Bristol this afternoon, I heard Thames Crossings, a "pilgrimage" up and down the river with the appropriately named Piers Plowright. It was quite an interesting programme in its own right, but I mention it here because over the course of 15 minutes they quoted not once but twice from Spenser (although they failed to namecheck him on either occasion) - and how often does that happen these days?
The first time arguably doesn't count, because they were only mentioning the title of Robert Gibbings' book Sweet Thames, Run Softly - in which Gibbings may in any case have been quoting Eliot quoting Spenser. The second was much more intriguing - a reading from the tombstone of Agatha Christie:
Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas,
Ease after war, death after life does greatly please.
Now, if you know your Faerie Queene you will see at once why this is an utterly inappropriate sentiment to put on a tombstone. These are the wicked words spoken by Despair as he attempts to persuade the Redcross Knight to suicide. Wikipedia tells me that Agatha Christie died of natural causes in 1976, but if this were an Agatha Christie novel (or still more a Colin Dexter one) I would certainly take this as a fairly broad hint as to the actual cause of death.