Sunday, 9 December 2012

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 215

This week I had the fortune to visit the christmas market at Winchester. The market was located just behind Winchester cathedral, the site of Jane's burial. In 2007 I wrote a post with information regarding Cassandra's response to her death, read it here.

The market was beautiful and I kept thinking about Jane and how the cathedral was "a building she admired so much" (written in a letter from Cassandra Austen in 1817, XCV, Winchester: Sunday )

I have chosen to quote a poem Jane wrote three days before her death in Winchester:

When Winchester races

When Winchester races first took their beginning

It is said the good people forgot their old Saint

Not applying at all for the leave of Saint Swithin

And that William of Wykeham's approval was faint.

The races however were fixed and determined

The company came and the Weather was charming

The Lords and the Ladies were satine'd and ermined

And nobody saw any future alarming.--

But when the old Saint was informed of these doings

He made but one Spring from his Shrine to the Roof

Of the Palace which now lies so sadly in ruins

And then he addressed them all standing aloof.

'Oh! subjects rebellious! Oh Venta depraved

When once we are buried you think we are gone

But behold me immortal! By vice you're enslaved

You have sinned and must suffer, ten farther he said


These races and revels and dissolute measures

With which you're debasing a neighboring Plain

Let them stand--You shall meet with your curse in your pleasures

Set off for your course, I'll pursue with my rain.

Ye cannot but know my command o'er July

Henceforward I'll triumph in shewing my powers

Shift your race as you will it shall never be dry

The curse upon Venta is July in showers--'.

For your information the roman name for Winchester was Venta. St Swithin's Day is 15th July, the day this poem was written and always associated with rain. I find it so amazing that she was writing such inspiring poetry days before her death, and funny too - rain does not make the best conditions for a race!

Pic: Winchester Cathedral

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