Three steps to heaven

1. Take a holiday in the Lake District in northern England. Even at the height of summer, one can find solitary places where you can take in some of the most spirit-stirring of landscapes. Take in as much of this as you can, while trying to remember various bits and pieces of Wordsworth.

I don’t really know this region too well, but it’s like a bit of the Scottish Highlands – which I know a bit better – transplanted across the border. 

2. Come home, settle into your armchair, and reacquaint yourself with those half-remembered lines from Wordsworth. Experience again that sense of the eternal suffusing the real.

That last line should be by Wordsworth, but it isn’t. It comes from a limerick that rather neatly summarises Wordsworth’s “Ode on the Intimations of Immortality”:

In childhood ’tis easy to feel
Th’eternal suffusing the real,
    But as the beholder
    Grows steadily older
It doesn’t seem such a big deal.

3. To maintain this elevated frame of mind, listen to a good recording of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Pour yourself a good glass of whisky while you’re at it.

The music of Beethoven, born coincidentally in the same year as Wordsworth, often makes me feel the same way that Wordsworth’s poetry does. I prefer not to go further down this route, as I have not the first idea how to describe these feelings.

The Pastoral Symphony does seem to me particularly Wordsworthian in feel. There are many fine recordings of it. For the record, I listened to the recording featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. 

And the whisky I poured myself was a rather fine bottling of Bruichladdich.

And there you have it: three steps to heaven.

Well, it worked for me.

I won’t bore you with all my holiday snaps, but here are a few of Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage. the bearded chap you see in one of them is me.


I’ll be back to my more usual posts once I’ve got back out of the holiday frame of mind.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by alan on August 28, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I prefer the sublime to the eternal, its not so tedious.
    Contemplating the eternal used to give me nausea. It no longer does, but I suspect that just means I’ve got used to being bored.
    Nice beard, by the way.


    • But “sublime” is only an iamb: you need an amphibrach such as “eternal” to make it scan!

      In any case, eternity need not be boring. before we enter eternity, God will remove from us teh capacity to become bored. God thinks of everything, you know: that’s why he’s God!


  2. Very nice photos. I well remember the Lake District. One of my favorite places when visiting England. We stayed in a guest house run by an elderly couple from London. Wonderful experience. Sounds like your experience has also been superb. Enjoy your holiday!


    • It really was lovely. We have in the past neglected the Lake District in favour of the Scottish Highlands, but this was equally beautiful. It’s easy to see why this landscape inspired the Romantics to such an extent!


  3. Posted by Brian Joseph on August 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Great pictures. I really enjoy visiting literary historical places.

    Those are also great lines form Wordsworth. I very much try to keep the eternal firmly in the real but it is true that as one gets older it beings to slip.


    • That limerick, by the way, is not Wordsworth’s, but the second line of that limerick I have always thought worthy of the great man. I wish i coud lay claim to this limerick myself, but sadly, it’s not mine, and I can’t remember where I first came across it!


  4. Great pictures. I’d love to visit the Lake District.


    • It’s a wonderful place to visit. The landscape, I thought, is very similar to that of the Scottish Highlands, which is my favourite holiday spot. And of course, there are the literary associations – Wordsworth, Coleridge, de Quincey, etc.


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