A Poet, the Cornish Coast & an East Texas Farm Girl


All my life I have lived landlocked, 300 or more miles from the nearest salt water,  the gulf of Mexico.  I first read about the sea around Cornwall, England when I was 12 and discovered Daphne du Maurier, a mansion named Manderlay, and a book titled “Rebecca.”  My 7th grade teacher gave me a puzzled look when I turned in a book report on “Rebecca.”  But she didn’t say anything and when my paper was returned she had given me an A.


Years later I learned my maternal ancestors (Cranford) may have immigrated from Cornwall to America, making me ponder and question the limits and power of DNA.  But I knew nothing of DNA then.  Nor did I know about mansions of any kind, ancestral or otherwise, or most any of the other things du Maurier wrote about in “Rebecca.”  My world was an east Texas sandy-land farm populated with grass burrs, bull nettles, bear grass and whatever cotton, tomatoes and black eyed peas we could grow.  What impressed my young mind most indelibly was not Manderlay.  I was fascinated by du Maurier’s description of the sea, the relentless pounding of waves against rocks, chilly winds, mist and fog.  These were objects of fascination and wonderment to my young mind.


Now a friend I’ve never met, nor ever would’ve known existed if not for this wondrous world wide web of communication, puts me in touch once again with the Cornish Coast. Res, a soldier and sojourner to many exotic ports of the world, has settled in Cornwall where, among other things he writes poetry.  Really good poetry that I enjoy reading.  And now, through the magic of ethernet, Internet and other mechanical devices, I can hear his words in his own voice.  So can you if you click on this link:


In his poem Res speaks in lilting rhyme about rocks that guard the Cornish coast and how they have been stapled together with iron and steel for the sake of preservation.  Meanwhile, here I sit in Texas, stapled together with a few pharmaceuticals for the preservation of my blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and I feel an affinity with these rocks although I know not why.  Is it because Daphne du Maurier’s prose in a book found in a school library so long ago captured a 12 year old country girl’s heart and imagination and never set it free?   Could it be because these rocks were the last solid objects my long ago ancestors saw as they sailed away to a new world?   How far are we ever separated from our past I wonder?   One of William Faulkner’s more famous lines, which I had to grow old before I could start to understand, says we aren’t separated at all.  “The past is never dead.” Faulkner wrote. “It’s not even past.”

This is all such appetizing food for thought.

Photos courtesy of Res Burman, Penzance, England on the coast of Cornwall


Burman explains why he’d “rather be poor here, than rich in a city.”  http://resswritingandpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/my-place.html


6 Comments Add yours

  1. restless42 says:

    I have always thought there was a connection here with us, Dorothy, since first I heard “Euless Girl”. I believe you are closer to the Granite Rocks and the Pounding Seas of Cornwall than you imagine. Not to mention the sweet voices of the Cornish Singers.
    Thank you so much for your kind words.
    Much Love
    Your Friend Res.

  2. missourichild says:

    Thank you Res, I like your idea. And thank you for your beautiful poetry.

  3. restless42 says:

    Thank you again Dear Dorothy. You never fail to be supportive and encouraging. I believe there are many ties between Cornwall and the United States. The Cornish drawl may have given some of itself to the American twang. Phrases like “I reckon” and ‘I’ll see to it dreckly” (Directly) seem to my ear to be interchangeable, but seldom heart anywhere else in UK.
    If you see a big pine or cypress in Cornwall they’re most likely to be Monterey Pines and Cypresses, and they tend to grow better here than in Monterey.
    I used to have a neighbour whose farm was called “Bunkers Hill”. I’ve often wondered if a Cornishman took that name to the States, or if someone bought it back here?
    Before they scat (there’s a fine Cornish word) so many of the stone hedges down all the fields had names, many of which linger with a transatlantic flavour on the tongue and the memory.
    And then there’s the sea, relentlessly pounding on the granite cliffs and you could imagine in the roaring sea and the keening wind, the eerie cry of the seagulls, there might be a voice calling Cornwall’s children home.
    Much Love, Dear Dorothy, from Cornwall to East Texas

  4. missourichild says:

    Thank you Res, for the poetry, the knowledge you have to share, and your friendship.

  5. Jackie says:

    Lovely, both of you.

  6. missourichild says:

    Jackie, thank you. You are familiar with the area aren’t you? And with the book, Rebecca? I reread it a few years ago just to see if it is as well written as I remembered.

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