If from the public way you turn your steps/ Up the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill*,/ You will suppose that with an upright path/ Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent/ The pastoral mountains front you, face to face./ But, courage! for around that boisterous brook/ The mountains have all opened out themselves,/ And made a hidden valley of their own./ No habitation can be seen; but they/ Who journey thither find themselves alone/ With a few sheep, with rocks and stones and kites**/ That overhead are sailing in the sky….
*Gill– a narrow stream; **kites– small birds of prey
I begin this second part of “The Lake District (UK)” with a quote from William Wordsworth (1770-1850), one of the great Romantics of the English language, for several reasons. Wordsworth lived his life in several homes located in this northern district of England and he knew the place like very few others have. The above lines, quoted from the long poem “Michael,” continue with description of a sheep-fold out of which an intriguing story soon unfolds.
Many of Wordsworth’s poems (and narrative guides) speak for this wild and historic country in a language unequaled by any other English writer. I’ve been drawn to the poet’s work ever since my days in college, and I like to think that the quoted lines from “Michael” mirror the spirit of one who loves a climb into “rivertop country.”
Again, I’m in debt to Alyssa who thought of me (good daughter!) while visiting the Lake District this fall and who was willing to send reflections and photos not only for her friends and family to muse upon, but also for use on this blog. We hope that you’ve enjoyed Part 1 of the series and continue to see some good here in this little “postcard tour” of an old country in the time of holidays.