Well, the autumn scene was pleasant, but a bit impersonal and, as my wife put it, “Christian calendar-ish”. So in its place we have this panorama of Malham Cove, from my home county of Yorkshire.
So, it’s from my home county and it looks nice. OK, that’s the unpretentious reasons done with. The other reason is that it’s inspired by WH Auden’s poem, “In Praise of Limestone”. Michael Henderson quoted this poem at the end of a fascinating piece in Saturday’s Telegraph on Auden, “The clearest voice of the twentieth century”.
Opinion is divided as to whether the poem refers to the Italian landscape, or the Pennine landscape of Auden’s boyhood. I suspect there’s a bit of both in there – perhaps the sight of the Italian landscape (which seems to fit the middle section of the poem better, with its references to gods who can be “pacified by a clever line/Or a good lay”, operatic tenors etc.) called to mind the Yorkshire landscapes “that we, the inconstant ones, are consistently homesick for”.
The poem closes with the following lines, which (among other, more elevating effects, honest) immediately made me go out looking for panorama shots I could put on the top of this page:
The blessed will not care what angle they are regarded from,
Having nothing to hide. Dear, I know nothing of
Either, but when I try to imagine a faultless love
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.
As for the photograph itself, this is courtesy of Flickr user Peter Theakston, who has very graciously released his photos under a Creative Commons “Attribution” licence. As J Random Hermeneut put it recently, “See how easy blogging can be when we all learn to share?”
[Note: the linked version of the Auden poem contains a disastrous typo in the fourth line from the end of the second stanza. This should read, “So, when one of them goes to the bad, the way his mind works/Remains comprehensible”. Not “incomprehensible”. I mean…]