National Trust themes for 2020 are Food and Here and Now (mindfulness) SALT of The EARTH

Salt of the Earth Programme, which The New Hardy Players would have presented in Max Gate Gardens Wednesday April 29th. (had the weather been kind – which it most often is.) Devised by Sue Worth

The Salt of the Earth Programme includes;

Poems and Prose that contain images of Salt and of the Sea and others that celebrate ‘Salt of the Earth’ characters.  The kind and courageous.  Those who act decently.  Who work to improve the world and put food on the table, often at cost to themselves – and who flounder around trying to make sense of life and love as we all do.

Beeny Cliff Thomas Hardy

O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.

The pale mews plained below us, and the waves seemed far away
In a nether sky, engrossed in saying their ceaseless babbling say,
As we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day.

A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain,
And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain,
And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main.

– Still in all its chasmal beauty bulks old Beeny to the sky,
And shall she and I not go there once again now March is nigh,
And the sweet things said in that March say anew there by and by?

What if still in chasmal beauty looms that wild weird western shore,
The woman now is – elsewhere – whom the ambling pony bore,
And nor knows nor cares for Beeny, and will laugh there nevermore.

Lady Hamilton              Muriel Stewart     Hardy considered Muriel’s poetry to be superlatively good – she gave up writing poetry in the 1930’s to write on gardening – The delightful ‘Gardeners Nightcap’ and other writing.

Lady Hamilton

Men wondered why I loved you, and none guessed

How sweet your slow, divine stupidity,

Your look of earth, your sense of drowsy rest,

So rich, so strange, so all unlike my sea.

After the temper of my sails, my lean             

Tall masts, you were the lure of harbour hours,–

A sleepy landscape warm and very green,

Where browsing creatures stare above still flowers.

These salt hands holding sweetness, the leader led,

A slave, too happy and crazed to rule,               

Sea land-locked, brine and honey in one bed,

And Englands’s man your servant and your fool!

My banqueting eyes foreswore my waiting ships;

I was a silly landsman at your lips.

Chesil Song                                   Douglas Northover – Born in 1917 to fishing/farmworking/net braiding stock.

Published by Burton Bradstock Village Society

Sing me a song of the long Chesil Beach

Where the mackerel birds dive and herring gulls screech.

At the end of the line the lerritts afloat

With the sea out beyond as smooth as a moat.

Sing me a song of the sun hung in brass

When the sea’s all a boil with the shoals as they pass

The cliff top’s all pink with the froth of the thrift,

The swells are so lazy as shorewards they drift.

Sing me a song of a fisher longshore

Who can tie a sheet bend and pull on an oar

Or can stay with the drift and put out a trott

Whilst he knows just the place for a full lobster pot.

Sing me a song of a fine, nut brown maid

Who can splice a good rope and knows how to braid,

Can make you a home and cook you a meal

Sing you a song or dance a good reel.

Sing me a song of the long Chesil Beach

Where the mackrerel birds dive and herring gulls screech

Let me drop killick, here let me stay

Until the sun sets at the end of my day

Lerritt  –             a special boat used by fisherman off Chesil Beach

Trott –                a long line with many hooks anchored and buoyed

Killick –              a large stone, picked off the beach and used as an anchor

Ode to Melancholy                                         John Keats

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist

Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;

Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss’d

By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;

 Make not your rosary of yew-berries,

 Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be

 Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl

A partner in your sorrow’s mysteries;

For shade to shade will come too drowsily,

And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall

Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,

That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,

And hides the green hill in an April shroud;

Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,

Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,

Or on the wealth of globed peonies;

Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,

Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,

And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;

And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips

Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,

Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:

Ay, in the very temple of Delight

Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,

Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue

Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;

His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,

And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

One of the joyful frustrations of reading Thomas Hardy’s’ works is how keenly he observes his characters human tendency to fall in love with people they are clearly unsuited to– while remaining indifferent to the thoroughly decent, Salt of the Earth characters they should fall in love with.

We start with a scene from Chapter 25 of The Woodlanders prior to our reading an Edmund Gosse poem, which Hardy quotes.  – Edmund Gosse was a writer and close friend of Hardy’s.

Grace Melbury, who is newly – and she thinks successfully married to a young doctor, Edred Fitzpiers – see’s Giles Winterbourne who had hoped to marry her and who still loves her.

Grace                  “No–I could never have married him! – Dear father was right.  It would have been too coarse a life for me”. LOOKS AT RINGS OF SAPHIRE AND OPAL

Grace conts   “Mr Winterborne!”


Grace  “Mr Winterborne!  GILES WITH HIS BACK TO HER SEEMS NOT TO HAVE NOTICE “Mr. Winterborne!

Grace again                    “What, have you forgotten my voice?” SMILES AS WELCOMING

GILES TURNS WITHOUT SURPRISE, WALKS TOWARDS HER  AND SAYS STERNLY “Why do you call me? Is it not enough that you see me here moiling and muddling for my daily bread while you are sitting there in your success, that you can’t refrain from opening old wounds by calling out my name?”

Grace  MEEKLY “I am sorry I offended you by speaking, believe me, I did not intend to do that.  I could hardly sit here so near you without a word of recognition.”

NARRATOR   Forgotten her voice! Indeed, he had not forgotten  – He could have declared with a contemporary poet.

Edmund Gosse                            Two Points of View

If I forget, —
May joy pledge this weak heart to sorrow!
If I forget, —
May my soul’s coloured summer borrow
The hueless tones of storm and rain,
Of truth and terror, shame and pain, —
If I forget!

Though you forget, —
There is no binding code for beauty;
Though you forget, —
Love was your charm, but not your duty;
And life’s worst breeze must never bring
A ruffle to your silken wing, —
Though you forget.

If I forget, —
The salt creek may forget the ocean;
If I forget, —
The heart whence flows my heart’s bright motion,
May I sink meanlier than the worst,
Abandoned, outcast, crushed, accurst, —
If I forget!

Though you forget, —
No word of mine shall mar your pleasure;
Though you forget, —
You filled my barren life with treasure,
You may withdraw the gift you gave,
You still are lord, I still am slave, —
Though you forget.

At novels end it is Marty South, who has loved Giles steadily but silently throughout all her trials, who mirrors the poems themes in her eulogy for Giles Winterbourne. 

Marty South  whenever I get up I’ll think of ‘ee, and whenever I lie down I’ll think of ‘ee. Whenever I plant the young larches I’ll think that none can plant as you planted; and whenever I split a gad, and whenever I turn the cider-wring, I’ll say none could do it like you. If ever I forget your name, let me forget home and Heaven!—But no, no, my love, I never can forget ‘ee; for you was a GOOD man, and did good things!

Bushes and Briars                      Traditional Folk Song

Through bushes and through briars,

I lately took my way

All for to hear the sweet birds sing

And to see the lambs at play.

I overheard my own true love

His voice did sound so clear

Long time I have been waiting for,

The coming of my dear.

Sometimes I am uneasy

And troubled in my mind.

Sometimes I think I’ll go to my love

And tell to him my mind.

But if I did go to my love

My love he would say ‘Nay.’

If I show to him my boldness

He’ll ne’er love me again.

If I show to him my boldness

He’ll ne’er love me again.

Far from the Madding Crowd                   Thomas Hardy

Gabriel Oak goes courting Bathsheba Everdene

Bathsheba runs up to Gabriel – as if having chasing after him (in novel he has left a lamb with the Aunt as a present for Bathsheba)

Bathsheba        “Farmer Oak — I —-”        Pausing – AS IF OUT OF BREATH

Gabriel              “I have just called to see you,”

Bathsheba        “Yes — I know that,”  BREATHE AUDIBLY  “I didn’t know you had come to ask to have me, or I should have come in from the garden instantly.  I ran after you to say — that my aunt made a mistake in sending you away from courting me —-

Gabriel.             “I’m sorry to have made you run so fast, my dear – Wait a bit till you’ve found your breath.”

Bathsheba        “–          It was quite a mistake-aunt’s telling you I had a young man already –   I haven’t a sweetheart at all — and I never had one, and I thought that, as times go with women, it was SUCH a pity to send you away thinking that I had several.”

     Gabriel                “Really and truly I am glad to hear that!”  SMILING HOLDS OUT HIS HAND TO TAKE HERS – SHE SNATCHES AWAY – HAND BEHID BACK.

Gabriel CONT WITH LESS ASSURANCE  “I have a nice snug little farm,”

Bathsheba        “Yes; you have.”

Gabriel              “A man has advanced me money to begin with, but still, it will soon be paid off and though I am only an every-day sort of man, I have got on a little  (PROUDLY) since I was a boy – When we be married, I am quite sure I can work twice as hard as I do now.”

Bathsheba        “Why, Farmer Oak – I never said I was going to marry you.”


Gabriel              “Well — that IS a tale!” — To run after anybody like this, and then say you don’t want him!”

Bathsheba        “What I meant to tell you was only this,”  EAGER TO CORRECT BUT  WRONG FOOTED  — That nobody has got me yet as a sweetheart, instead of my having a dozen, as my aunt said; I HATE to be thought men’s property in that way, though possibly I shall be had some day. Why, if I’d wanted you I shouldn’t have run after you like this; ‘twould have been the FORWARDEST thing! But there was no harm in hurrying to correct a piece of false news that had been told you.”

Gabriel              “Oh, no — no harm at all.” IMPULSIVELY –  BUT CONTs. WITH MORE CAUTION — “Well, I am not quite certain it was no harm.”

Bathsheba        “Indeed, I hadn’t time to think before starting whether I wanted to marry or not, for you’d have been gone over the hill.”

Gabriel              “Come,” RENEWS APPEAL “think a minute or two. I’ll wait a while, Miss Everdene. Will you marry me? –  Do, Bathsheba. I love you far more than common!”

Bathsheba        EVADES HIM  “I’ll try to think  –  if I can think out of doors; my mind spreads away so.”

Gabriel              “But you can give a guess.”

Bathsheba        “Then give me time.”

Gabriel                             “I can make you happy.  You shall have a piano in a year or two — farmers’ wives are getting to have pianos now — and I’ll practise up the flute right well to play with you in the evenings.”

Bathsheba        “Yes; I should like that.”

Gabriel              “And have one of those little ten-pound” gigs for market — and nice flowers, and birds — cocks and hens I mean, because they be useful.

Bathsheba        “I should like it very much.”

Gabriel              “And a frame for cucumbers — like a gentleman and lady.

Bathsheba        “Yes.”

Gabriel              “And when the wedding was over, we’d have it put in the newspaper list of marriages.”

Bathsheba        “Dearly I should like that!”

Gabriel              “And the babies in the births — every man jack of ’em! And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be — and whenever I look up there will be you.”

Bathsheba        “No;” ’tis no use,” she said. “I don’t want to marry you.”

Gabriel              “Try.”

Bathsheba        “I have tried hard all the time I’ve been thinking; for a marriage would be very nice in one sense. People would talk about me, and think I had won my battle, and I should feel triumphant, and all that, But a husband —-

Gabriel              “Well!”

Bathsheba        “Why, he’d always be there, as you say; whenever I looked up, there he’d be.”

Gabriel              “Of course he would — I, that is.”

Bathsheba        “Well, what I mean is that I shouldn’t mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can’t show off in that way by herself, I shan’t marry — at least yet.

The Female Highwayman or Sovay                  Traditional Folk Song

Soya, in this Traditional Folk Song, decides on the direct approach to find out – before marriage – whether her true love is a Salt of the Earth character – or an Edred .        

Sovay, Sovay all on a day
She dressed herself in man’s array
With a sword and pistol all by her side
To meet her true love, to meet her true love, away did ride

As she was riding over the plain
She met her true love and bid him stand
“Your gold and silver, kind Sir, ” she said
“Or else this moment, or else this moment, your life I’ll have”

And when she’d robbed him of his store
She said, “Kind Sir, there is one thing more
A golden ring which I know you have
Deliver it, deliver it, your sweet life to save”

“Oh, that golden ring a token is
My life I’ll lose, the ring I’ll save”
Being tender-hearted just like a dove
She rode away, she rode away, from her true love

Now next morning in the garden green
Just like true lovers* they were seen
He spied his watch hanging by her clothes
Which made him blush, made him blush, like any rose

“Oh what makes you blush at so silly a thing
I thought to have had your golden ring’

Twas I that robbed you all on the plain
So here’s your watch, here’s your watch and your gold again”

“Oh I did intend and it was to know
If that you were me true love or no
So now I have a contented mind
My heart and all my heart and all my dear is thine”

John Clare                              Northborough Poems

Its doused hard to tax the malt

But if ye wor to drop it

(Although they could catch the salt)

They’d may be scheme to stop it

Take taxes off what they will

I never find em free

The grist gets tolled at every mill

Till there’s none left for me

Our shoes for which we’re foiled to pay

And all upon our backs

Are just as dear in every way

As when they paid the tax

There’s some (will run) and make a fuss

In politics and debt

But bless you sir, what’s that to us

Whove got our bread to get

Though Parliament fills every week

The papers with their chat

We’ve whove got bread and work to seek

Fare bad by reading that

The cows lap comes at early Spring

Behind a bunch of rushes

And the linnet prunes her wing

Among the leafy bushes

And I’ve a hut to keep me dry

And so God’s will be done

If money tumbled from the sky

The poor would get at none.

Times o’ Year                               William Barnes

Here did sway the eltrot flow’rs

When the hours o’ night were vew,

And the zun wi’ early beams

Brightened streams, an’ dried the dew,

An’ the goocoo there did greet

Passers by wi’ dowsty veet.

There the milkmaid hung her brow

By the cow, a-seenen red;

An the dog, wi’ upward looks,

Watch’d the rooks above his head,

An’ the brook, vrom bow to bow,

Here went swift, an’ there went slow.

Now the cwolder-blowen blast

Here do cast vrom elems’ heads

Feaded leaves, a-whirlen round

Down to ground, in yollow beds,

Ruslen under milkers’ shoes

When the day do dry the dews.

Soon shall grass, a vrosted bright,

Glisten white instead o’ green,

An’ the wind shall smite the cows

Where the boughs be now their screen.

Things do change as years do vlee;

What ha’ years in store for me?

John Clare, known as the peasant poet, and William Barnes, scholar, writer, ordained minister and schoolmaster left school at 7 and 13 respectively.

Jude from Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

“It takes two or three generations to do what I tried to do in one.”

“Every man has some little power in some one direction -I was never really stout enough for the stone trade, particularly the fixing. Moving the blocks always used to strain me, and standing in the trying draughts in buildings before the windows are in always gave me colds, and I think that began the mischief inside. But I felt I could do one thing if I had the opportunity.  I could accumulate ideas, and impart them to others. I wonder if the founders had such as I in their minds–a fellow good for nothing else but that particular thing? … I hear that soon there is going to be a better chance for such helpless students as I was. There are schemes afoot for making the university less exclusive, and extending its influence. I don’t know much about it. And it is too late, too late for me! Ah–and for how many worthier ones before me!”

Lot’s Wife  By Anna Akhmatova – Russian poet        May (and for purposes or our programme, was) influenced by Hardy’s Boer War poems before writing about the Siege of Stalingrad, which she witnessed.  She also wrote about Stalin’s’ reign of terror.

The righteous man then trailed Jehovah’s guide,
Hulking and bright, across a ridge of black,
But in his wife a keening anguish cried:
“It’s not too late for you. You can look back

upon your Sodom’s old red towers, the square
where once you sang, the garden where you wove,
the emptied windows of the mansion where
you bore your children by your husband’s love.”

She turned and looked. The bitter vision burned,
Welding her eyelids shut with mortal pain.
Into transparent salt her body turned,
As each quick foot took root into the plain.

Who weeps for such a woman, for so small
A loss in such a brutish circumstance?
Yet ever in my heart I will recall
That wife who laid her life down for a glance.

Enrico – Hardy’s favourite – played on violin or viola

In this poem a child takes pity on a convict – in the way Jude Fawley took pity on the birds when he was supposed to be chasing them away from crops, so they did not eat any.

At The Railway Station, Upwey                         Thomas Hardy

‘There is not much that I can do,

For I’ve no money that’s quite my own!’

Spoke up the pitying child—

A little boy with a violin

At the station before the train came in—

‘But i can play my fiddle to you,

And a nice one ‘tis, and good in tone!’

The man in the handcuffs smiled;

The constable looked, and he smiled, too,

As the fiddle began to twang;

And the man in the handcuffs

Suddenly sang

With grimful glee:

‘This life so free

Is the thing for me!’

And the constable smiled, and said no word,

As if unconscious of what he heard;

And so they went on till the train came in—

The convict, and boy with the violin.

Violin plays again before The New Hardy Players say goodbye to our audience.



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