“It’s my belief we’re here because we are put; and you might as well be a cabbage as think you have got any say about it.”
So says chatterer girl on a train. Meantime, this story tells of a sensitive budding writer, Hilbert, and his loving mother who buys up his poetry books as if they are a token of a valued OLOGY! — and his poetry is on the cusp with prose, as the act of sleeping is on the dream cusp of waking, I guess.
“The degradation of becoming a bestseller had never even in fancy so much as darkened his mind.”
But he has a thesis that strangers randomly encountered in WDLM’s train journey and its corner seats, a WDLM running theme, that, as well as idyllic stations, and bird life and WDLM-rich evocations of peace before the hum of the rails betokens a train’s arrival … these strangers and their speech being tantamount to poetry and, and if their speaking to him passed his thesis’ test of intrinsic poetry, he would then give them a free copy of his book entitled PARLEYINGS, rather than leaving copies randomly in various places as he had tried before. Until he realises silence is tantamount to poetry!
Here, the separate chatting strangers include a railway porter, two gossiping amazon girls, and an old man like me, and a socialist who looks like a junior archdeacon with cherry lips, and the latter’s silent sister whose sexuality perhaps wishfully overpowers Hilbert…
Just get a gist of its gestalt …
“Why did cabinet ministers so seldom resort in their speeches to blank verse? Simply because their hearts were not in their work.”
“Why, thought Hilbert, watching him, is a green-glassed lantern so magical an object in full daylight? Was it because, like poetry itself, it is of no immediate use? And why, in a dear mediaeval little wayside station like this, where heavy luggage must be scarce, had the porter bow legs?”
“…he detested the thought of talking to strangers; particularly strangers engaged in really practical occupations…”
A railway bridge as a changing picture frame. And a train with a female gender…
“‘She,’ then, was probably not more than a mile away now. Yes, here she came, puffing out delirious clots of wool and advancing on the toy railway station as meditatively as a gigantic snail.”
Time’s tic tac of a septuagenarian like me…
“…the wagtail – nimble Sallie Dishwasher – and had never himself even noticed her shadow; no, nor the tic-tac either.”
“…as far away from the rocking clatter of his surroundings as a sleeping infant would be during a performance of Götterdämmerung.”
A basket woven from WDLM’s ‘bast’. A word I discovered earlier in his stories above.
Then, one of the amazons…
“What I say is, trewth’s trewth; and I don’t care what eavesdroppers perking their ears up in corners unbeknown and shamming doggo may have heard me.”
The archdeacon’s sister…
“…an oval face with highish cheekbones, and eyes and mouth from which a remote smile was now vanishing as softly and secretly as a bird enters and vanishes into its nest.”
A story that satirises creative writers but makes them spiritual, too. This story puts every reader in one of WDLM’s trains as a carriage corner sitter.
“…you see what is called poetry is merely a trying to put into words what can, of course, never, never be really said.”
My other WDLM reviews: https://etepsed.wordpress.com/walter-de-la-mare/