The moon will be full to bursting this evening, and if the sky is as clear as it was yesterday, it will be a bright one – a big clear dimpled and textured disc in the night sky, so clear you could reach out and touch it. When the moon is like this, it always reminds me of the film poster for the 1902 film ‘Le Voyage dans la Lune’, minus the rocket of course!
Whilst looking for a poem for this week, with a connection to the moon, I came across ‘A Hymn to the Moon’ by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a beautiful poem of the moon being a guide, perhaps with love being the destination. Not only a poet, Montagu was also responsible for introducing the Eastern practice of inoculation (in connection with smallpox) into Western Europe in the 18th century – quite appropriate for these times of mass vaccination, and with last week’s news that the sunny uplands may not be far off and restrictions easing as we approach the summer, perhaps the role of the Moon being our guide to a better place is more appropriate than ever.
‘A Hymn to the Moon’ by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Thou silver Deity of secret Night,
Direct my footsteps through the Woodland Shade,
Thou conscious Witness of unknown delight,
The Lovers Guardian, and the Muses Aid.
By thy pale beams I solitary rove,
To thee my tender Greife confide,
Serenely sweet you gild the silent Grove,
My Friend, my Goddess and my Guide.
Even thee fair Queen from thy amazing height
The Charms of young Endimion drew,
Veil’d with the Mantle of concealing Night,
With all thy Greatness, and thy Coldness too.
Amongst the shortages on the supermarket shelves last year was that of flour and yeast, I remember an interview on the radio with a miller from the other side of Oxford, they were working flat out to meet demand – it seemed the world had gone bread-making bonkers – sourdough was everywhere. But the kneading of the dough appears to have had a lasting impression on us, bread-making at home is here to stay (we have a couple of budding artisanal bakers in our household now). Our featured Coles Signed Edition, and forthcoming Radio 4 Book of the Week is ‘Slow Rise’ by Robert Penn, a joyful ode to the cultivation of the ingredients, the resulting loaf and the comfort to the soul that it brings; comfort for TV and Radio presenter Nicky Campbell comes from his dog Maxwell, ‘One of the Family’ is Nicky’s inspiring memoir of how understanding comes from love; for a more direct approach to understanding the world, there’s Jordan B. Peterson, his phenomenally successful 12 Rules for Life has rarely been out of the bestseller lists and his follow-up book ‘Beyond Order’ is all set to be just as popular; we’re up in Yorkshire and down on the farm with Amanda Owen; elsewhere in God’s own county is the forthcoming novel from our good friend Paige Toon – we’ve printed up some Yorkshire inspired postcards to accompany Paige’s book; our thrillers this week are from Joel Dicker, Simon Kernick and Robbie Morrison; we go beyond the moon and stars with Arkady Martine and Becky Chambers; and travel back in time to the Northumberland coast with Matthew Harffy; further north in Scotland’s Highlands can be found the poetry of Robin Robertson (we now have more signed copies available of Carol Ann Duffy’s collection of verse from a few weeks ago) and this coming week sees the publication of Klara and the Sun from Kazuo Ishiguro.
And with the European Football Championships on the horizon this summer, thoughts of football glory bubble up to the surface once again – and for many the footballer who best epitomises the heart on the sleeve passion required for glory is the troubled genius Paul Gascoigne – we have some rather striking art prints signed by Paul, perfect timing because we know this is the summer when football is coming home!