Wednesday 21 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (3) Zennor and the Mermaid

Zennor, the road to St Senara's church

Those of you who have read the last couple of posts will know that on our recent visit to Cornwall we revisited some of the settings for the poems in my new poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight, published by The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, and available here at the UK price of £6.99.

The photo above shows me in Zennor, a village with many literary associations; writers from D.H. Lawrence to Helen Dunmore and Michael Morpurgo have written about this area. It features in one of my favourite poems, 'Zennor', by Anne Ridler (which I once requested successfully for BBC Poetry Please). It is also the setting for my poem, 'Zennor Voices', p.19 in Driftwood by Starlight.



The churchyard holds a number of interesting memorials. The one below is in memory of Dr William Borlase (1696-1772), Vicar of Zennor and well-known antiquarian.


This following photo shows a plaquel commemorating John Davey, one of the last fluent speakers of Cornish before plans were laid to breathe new life into the language in our own day.  

The slate sundial (1737), which adorns the south wall of the bell tower, bears the name of its maker, Paul Quick. Another local person to bear the surname 'Quick' was Henry Quick, also of Zennor, who was known for his poems.

And finally ... we come to the 'mermaid chair', linked to the local legend about a mortal man who fell in love with a mermaid. How does the story end?


Calvin Dotson said...

[[ The Glory of the World Passeth ]]
Do I read this correctly??
And the mermaid chair—a vessel for time-travel par excellence...

Caroline Gill said...

Yes indeed (with somewhat irregular spelling!). The phrase is more usually quoted in Latin, 'sic transit gloria mundi'. It might be worth you checking here ...

I've forgotten how to do links right now (sorry!), but if you paste the above into your browser, it should work.