Tag Archives: sussex

The Monday Poem – The South Country by Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc

HILAIRE BELLOC

THE SOUTH COUNTRY

 

When I am living in the Midlands
That are sodden and unkind,
I light my lamp in the evening:
My work is left behind;
And the great hills of the South Country
Come back into my mind.

The great hills of the South Country
They stand along the sea;
And it’s there walking in the high woods
That I could wish to be,
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
Walking along with me.

The men that live in North England
I saw them for a day;
Their hearts are set upon the waste fells,
Their skies are fast and grey;
From their castle-walls a man may see
The mountains far away.

The men that live in West England
They see the Severn strong,
A-rolling on rough water brown
Light aspen leaves along.
They have the secret of the Rocks,
And the oldest kind of song.

But the men that live in the South Country
Are the kindest and most wise,
They get their laughter from the loud surf,
And the faith in their happy eyes
Comes surely from our Sister the Spring
When over the sea she flies;
The violets suddenly bloom at her feet,
She blesses us with surprise.

I never get between the pines
But I smell the Sussex air;
Nor I never come on a belt of sand
But my home is there.
And along the sky the line of the Downs
So noble and so bare.

A lost thing could I never find,
Nor a broken thing mend:
And I fear I shall be all alone
When I get towards the end.
Who will there be to comfort me
Or who will be my friend?

I will gather and carefully make my friends
Of the men of the Sussex Weald,
They watch the stars from silent folds,
They stiffly plough the field,
By them and the God of the South Country
My poor soul shall be healed.

If I ever become a rich man,
Of if ever I grow to be old,
I will build a house with deep thatch
To shelter me from the cold,
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung
And the story of Sussex told.

I will hold my house in the high wood
Within a walk of the sea,
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
Shall sit and drink with me.

Love in Lindfield

‘‘There was supposedly one woman Charles Kempe tried to propose to. Unfortunately, the story goes she misunderstood his declaration of love, finishing his sentence for him with another meaning completely! He never had the nerve to try to ask her again. Sad, isn’t it?’ said Ellie.
‘I think I know the type though!’ Harry replied ironically.’ Love in Lindfield by David Smith

Love in Lindfield follows the likeable character of Harry, a TV researcher scouting for a suitable old house in rural Sussex. He’s a believable, relatable figure who unwittingly gets mixed up in some comparatively unlikely dramas. Luckily for us, Harry finds it all a bit unbelievable too, so he’s the perfect protagonist to hang on to for this ride.

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Although Love in Lindfield is a fairly straight forward love story, the book kept me pondering throughout. I couldn’t quite second-guess what each character was up to and I wasn’t always sure who was trustworthy.

The book is littered with interesting old found letters relating to the buildings, towns and their long-deceased inhabitants. It’s a fun read which made me giggle on occasion. It’s also a very quick and easy story, a real page-turner as they say! If I were the type to sun-bathe, this would be a perfect beach read, but I’m not… so I enjoyed it on my window seat overlooking the sea.

The ending of the book was a little sudden for me and it’s one of those stories where I think the final ten pages or so just aren’t necessary. Sometimes I like to be left to my own imagination to wrap things up. Without giving anything away, the tone of the ending was fairly bleak and blunt, quite a contrast to the spirited, fun adventures that we’re taken on earlier in the story.

Readers of Examining the Odd may be thinking that this book sounds a little out of place for this site, but I enjoyed the fact that it’s set in and around the area where I live (Brighton, England). I would recommend this book to anyone who has spent time in Sussex, or to anyone with an interest in Charles Eamer Kempe or Lewis Carroll, both of whom are quite prominent in the story.

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Love in Lindfield reminded me a little of a wonderful book I read years ago called Sex & Bowls & Rock & Roll, a story of a city man who moves to the country. I don’t always give ratings to books, but I give Love in Lindfield a solid 7 out of 10.

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