Thursday, November 18, 2004

All work, no play

"That is the real curse of Adam; not the work in itself but the worry and doubt of ever getting it done; perhaps the doubt, also, whether, after all, it ought to be done, or done at the price. All your working year you chase some phantom moment at which you might fairly say 'Now I am there.' Then Easter comes; you sail your own boat through a night of dirty weather from the Mersey to the Isle of Man; and, as you lower sail in Douglas harbour, you are there; no phantom this time; the curse of Adam is taken clean off you, at any rate for that morning. Or those seeds that you sowed in the back garden on that thrilling Saturday evening amaze and exalt you by coming up, and you learn in your proper person what the joys of discovery and creaion are; you have, so far, succeeded in life and done what it piqued you to do in this world. All play, of course, and the victory tiny. Still, on its own scale and for its miniature lifetime, the little model is perfect; the humble muddler has come nearer than anything else is likely to bring him to feeling what the big triumphs of human power must taste like." -- The Right Place, by CE Montague

It's possible that, stripped of its stylistic brass band, this might be quite a commonplace commonplace. But isn't the brass band lovely?

[The Right Place, by CE Montague (Chatto and Windus, 1924). I have gone on about this gentleman before. Not much to add, except this is his book on what would now be called tourism (although he thinks you can do it at home, too) and seems prettier in patches but weaker overall than Disenchantment. Astonishing passage about the historical beauties of First World War battlefields, and the joy of being sent to them: the biographical details that make it piquant are still here.]

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