Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks


How strange it felt to be writing this week’s blog with a pen on a piece of paper. Normally, I’d have been typing it straight into my computer, first as an ordinary Word document which, after being corrected and adjusted, would then get transferred into Blog format.

But, silly me, I managed to leave my computer behind in Wales when we set out back to London earlier this week. Even now, it must be languishing in the sitting room there, wondering where on earth I am. At the same time as feeling quite sorry for it, I also think it was probably good for me to have had to write my thoughts by hand before borrowing Paul’s computer to type them up.

Good because, before typewriters and computers came into my life, handwriting was what there was and I used to enjoy it, still do on those ever rarer occasions when I actually put pen to paper. At primary school we were well-trained. Marion Richardson style, we’d be rounding our ‘a’ shapes, looping the upper end of every ‘h’, all of us creating the very recognisable handwriting of the Welsh primary classroom.

Thinking about leaving my computer in Wales makes me think more about another kind of leaving – or maybe it could be called deleafing. I went out yesterday to take photos of some of the lovely leaves on my local Brixton pavements. Then later, I found myself remembering one of my favourite poems, Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a poet I admire all the more because as well as using a variety of Welsh poetic techniques in his poems, he actually learned Welsh too.

Here’s his poem,  which is subtitled ‘to a young child’.

Spring and Fall:

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! As the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.


PS: My photos were taken yesterday afternoon on local pavements. Their colours are so arresting that their positions on the pavements often look like they’ve been deliberately chosen to attract the human eye.

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One Response to “Deleafing”

  1. Meg Says:

    Dear Mary
    Up here in Perthshire Autumn clings to the hillsides. Oaks are the most tenacious, beeches have their last fling on the Southside of the valleys. Sycamores flushed yellow first and scattered early. I do like that Gerald Manley Hopkins verse. co I a Am reading George Mackay Brown at the moment and he was a great fan of Hopkins. It’s a glorious season.

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