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[sticky post]Friends
I created this account so that I could follow certain people who were writing very good fics which I did not want to miss. The only way I knew to do this was to friend them (where that was acceptable to them). Subsequently I realised that I could use the account to follow other people who wrote blogs I liked, again by friending them.

I like the LJ community and want to stay in it. I read my friends page at least twice daily and participate in the community by commenting frequently on post by my friends. I prefer not to make posts myself for the time being.

I hope that this is acceptable to the powers that be!

Keeping my place
This isn't going to be an exciting contribution, because I'm posting it in order to ensure that my account remains alive (I have vague memories of a periodic purge of apparently lifeless accounts). My enjoyment of LJ comes from being a reader of other's entries and commenting on them, and not from journaling myself. I think that's fine -- there has to be an audience, after all, and I do the two-way thing by commenting.

It's a cold but sunny day, and we are promised snow this week: I'll believe it when I see it. Some of last summer's plants are still doggedly flowering, which I'm taking as evidence both that my corner terrace is well-sheltered (and the opposite of a frost-pocket) and that winter really hasn't been too bad here, as yet.

Au revoir!

Larking about
I've just heard my first skylark this year and, even though I was freezing in an unseasonably cold south-easterly breeze, it lifted my heart.

It's sent me in search of poems - inevitably, Shelley's Ode to a Skylark was the first I re-read, and I'd forgotten just how many lovely images it contains. A host of similes, including:

Like a Poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

Like a high-born maiden
In a palace-tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

The poem culminates in

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

From Shelley's Skylark to Keats's Nightingale, with the first lines which I've often quoted to myself this long winter:

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk

and this lovely description of a summer night:

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

But back to the glory evoked by the lark, with Gerard Manley Hopkins's The Windhover:

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

While there is little which is more tedious than an English person talking about the weather, the last fifteen months or so it has been odd enough to excuse it. And the time since Christmas this year is no different. I am so tired of the cold! We have had several sunny days this week and I've been pathetically grateful for them, even with the chilly wind. But interspersed have been attempts at sleet - if there had been anything falling from the sky, it would have been snow.

There is an unusual mix of flowers, with many which are normally over by now still going strong, partly because they started late and partly because it hasn't yet been too warm for them. The snowdrops are finally over, but crocuses are only just fading. Helebores are in full flower. The daffodils are mostly out (though not all). Winter flowering honeysuckle persists. There are leaf bids on the red dogwood and the summer honeysuckle has even more. The forsythia is flowering. I haven't seen any magnolias yet, but there aren't many around here.