The small raine down can raine

But I believe that lovers should be tied together. Thrown into the ocean in the worst of weather. And left there to drown.

Just in case the whole picture doesn’t come out – this is the whole text of this anonymous piece of graffiti. Is it written on flesh, or just something flesh-coloured? Is that a lopsided heart for a signature, or a wonky B?

It’s poetry, isn’t it? Maybe unintentional. But why full stops where there might be commas? What sort of sad, bitter or reflective frame of mind might someone be in, to even think of writing it?

It reminds me of an Irish song – Constant Lovers. I’ll just give you the two last verses:

Then she flung her arms wide and she took a great leap / From the cliffs that were high to the billows so deep / Saying: “The rocks of the ocean shall be my death bed / And the shrimps of the sea shall swim over my head.”

And now every night at six bells they appear / When the moon it is shining and the stars they are clear / Those two constant lovers with each other’s charms / Rolling over and over in each other’s arms.

I first heard it sung by the Copper Brothers. Once heard, both the tune and the words stay with you – like those doomed and constant lovers of long ago.

What on earth got me started on this tack? Oh yes, marginalia. I was thinking about another famous poem, supposed to have been written in the margins of a medieval religious manuscript and found many centuries later and set to music.

Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow / The small raine down can raine. / Cryst, if my love were in my armes / And I in my bedde again!’

This seems an unlikely thing for a bored young monk to have written on a cold and rainy day, when he should have been concentrating on his illuminating. Although I don’t know…

I was trying to remember which muse-deserted author scribbled an impassioned Come to me again, o mon bon… in a margin, but I can’t. And apparently Google can’t either. I do believe there’s a word for something someone Googles for the first time? A Googly or a Froogly or something? I thought Google knew everything. Perhaps I just misquoted.

I had a quick flick through some of my own books in the hope of retrieving some deathless marginalia – for when I become famous. In Pen to Paper by Pamela Frankau I appear to have pencilled this:

‘The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures; ‘tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil’ Macbeth. I see this is in response to the following Pamela paragraph:

Though a mort of human sins and troubles come solely from a lack of imagination, its possession may likewise engage you in unprofitable exercises:- Lying; slandering; over-anxiety; over-embroidery; painting devils on the walls, other people’s walls as well as your own.

I have a sharp ear for a quote. She’s calling to mind some specific literary devil, I thought, and I was right. Wasn’t I? Nice to have been right about something, in a long lifetime of having been wrong about most things.

In the front of Jung: Selected Writings (my most dog-eared and thumbed-through book) I find a sad little pencilled list – one of my many Plans. I had been going through a bad time, psychologically (hence the desperate thumbing through Jung since I couldn’t afford a psychotherapist). I was trying to make plans for leaving my husband and had scribbled:

? P/T job – move first – when do you have to start paying? ? Career – library – ask after work ? work – help

I’ve always found life-planning difficult. When do you have to start paying what, I wonder? Rent, probably. P/T is my shorthand for Part Time. Was I really going to ask about employment in the library? Perhaps I was just going to the library after work, to ask about something else. Underneath I’ve written:

Anima – Persona + projection 96

God & unconscious same entity? 329

Conscious growing out of unconscious 218

Definition of intuition 219

(The numbers are page references.) But what a mixture a mind is at any given moment. The one mind battling to disentangle anima from persona, God from the unconscious, and wondering if it could find work by going to the library, and when exactly rent might be payable. I can sort of feel the state I was in. I remember driving around for two years, holding imaginary conversations with imaginary Psychotherapists, with Jung, with God – with anyone who might be listening, trying to sort it all out. One day, I thought, everything will suddenly become clear. I will Understand.

Still waiting.

And in Aesop’s Fables (yes, I found my Aesop’s Fables) in really dreadful handwriting, strangely young to have found the words worth defacing Aesop for, I have written

Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight…

And there it stops. Google does know this one: Hebrews 12:1. But why on earth was I reading Hebrews at that age? Or even the Bible? Maybe I just liked the sound of the words.

Maybe I’ll go back to scribbling in my own books again. If only to provide myself with a tiny surprise or two, little mysteries to be solved in my decrepitude when the weather’s too rough to get out with the shopping trolley; when the warm, springtime Westron Wynde has once more failed to blow and the small raine down can raine.

PS: Just found those words. Should have Googled them earlier. They’re part of a song by someone or something called Bright Eyes, called A Perfect Sonnet:

Well, I do like the words. Not too sure about the music.

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