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