On our last day in Grasmere, students quickly finished up their online exhibition, linking the writings of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and images of their manuscripts with photographs and drawings of the places they describe. Their intention was to assemble something that the Trust would find useful for its outreach program to seniors with memory loss. Then came the test: how would it be received? They had an exacting audience: Jeff Cowton, Curator of the Wordworth Trust, and Gillian Dow, head of research at Chawton House Library, the center of Jane Austen studies. I was impressed with the clarity of their presentation, and the sophistication of the project—and so were Cowton and Dow. It was a triumph.
Triumphs deserve rewards, so Jeff brought out some of the Trust’s greatest treasures for us to hold and admire. The earliest complete manuscripts of The Prelude, Wordsworth’s autobiographical epic, a beautiful Lake District watercolor by J.M.W. Turner, a first edition of Lyrical Ballads which we passed around while reading Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and, for Konner Jebb, a first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a recitation of the moment of the monster’s creation.
After lunch and souvenirs at the sheep shop, we headed north to Keswick for our last excursion. First stop: Castlerigg Stone Circle, a Stonehenge in miniature, ringed by Skiddaw, Blencathra, and Helvellyn, three towering Lake District mountains. Next, Jeff drove us through the village of Keswick and, ever so gingerly, along a narrow road around Derwentwater. Try doing hairpins in a minibus! We stopped at Brandelhow Woods for dramatic views of the mountains and the lake. The poet Gray called Derwentwater “the Vale of Elysium,” and we could all see why.
The day ended with rest in the Dove Cottage gardens and another meal in Wordsworth’s home: salads and cold meat pies, and plenty of laughter and memories. It was a fitting end to a perfect week.
Sometimes, teaching is simply sharing a gift. 30 years ago, I was given the gift of Wordsworth’s lakes by the late Stephen Parrish of Cornell. Last week, I was able to pass that gift on to eight PC students—John Connolly, Branan Durbin, Kris Gianquitti, Konnor Jebb, Abby Johnston, Patricia Krupinski, Brendan Murphy, and Nick Tavares. I have never felt more privileged.
–Dr. Bruce Graver
Maymester in England On our last day in Grasmere, students quickly finished up their online exhibition, linking the writings of... MORE
This morning we made our way back to the Jerwood Center bright and early. The walk to the center from our hostel is about half an hour long and quite beautiful, taking us through Grasmere past various shops and establishments.
At the Trust, we had the opportunity to use the tips and tricks we had learned the day before about handling and interpreting manuscripts. Jeff led us through the process of analyzing one document in particular, allowing us to make discoveries for ourselves through our various observations and gently using our insights to prompt us in the correct direction. We eventually ascertained that the particular document we had in front of us was about 200 lines of a final draft of “Home at Grasmere,” a poem we studied in class back at PC this past Friday. In the poem, Wordsworth explores the nearly divine beauty of his home. Since it holds a subject so personal and dear to his heart, this poem more than others feels as though it has more of him in it, which made having the original manuscript before us even more precious.
Branan Durbin ’16
Just before lunch we went to our afternoon destination of Hawkshead. This trip was being taken so that we could view more of the locations referenced by Wordsworth in his poetry, specifically in his Prelude. We visited his elementary school (called primary school here in the UK) and his childhood parish. After the first few sites, we went for lunch in the village and then continued out to the rural areas of Hawkshead. We finished it with some cream tea and scones, and then hopped on our minibus to drive back to Grasmere and The Wordsworth Trust. Once back, we listened to a presentation by a philosopher introducing a new interpretation of Wordsworth as a poet. When this finished, we headed back to Thorney How for a lovely dinner, some drinks, and conversation. After dinner, some of us went off to read, others to write, and a few went for a hike.
In May and June, the sun does not set in the Lake District until around 10:15 p.m. This is an incredible asset for visitors. I was a part of the group that went for an evening hike. We went towards the Easedale Tarn, traversing pastures, rocky roads, and steep hills. The experience was incredible in the evening air. Though we had hiked as an entire group and experienced the magic that these hills can share a day prior, the feeling was just as incredible this second time. We each sat at a peek or near a lake and reflected on our day and the landscape. It is a truly fantastic way to end a busy day. We joined up again as the sun began to set and returned to the hostel. Again a whole group, we relaxed until bed, thankful for another terrific day.
Brendan Murphy ’16
Maymester in England This morning we made our way back to the Jerwood Center bright and early. The walk to... MORE