Friday, 12 June 2009

Curio Corner (1): Plate Friday (well, almost)

Bone china trinket box from Tintern Abbey, Wales

When I read last night that Weaver was encouraging us to follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth (and her blog, About New York) by marking today as Plate Friday, I thought I should have a go at posting something. I don't collect plates, but I hope this small item of bone china will serve as an acceptable substitute.

I went through a phase as a young teenager of collecting cheap china - well, largely china - milk or cream jugs from bric-a-brac stalls, church bazaars etc. I think my interest was aroused initially by a small china urn full of honey. We were studying ancient Mediterranean cultures at school, and the shape of the urn (a miniature honeypot, I suppose) reminded me of the amphorae and pithoi from ancient Greece and of the exquisite bee earring made of gold from Minoan Crete.

The sad truth is that I no longer collect jugs (or stamps or coins), although I can never resist an interesting postcard. These days, I tend to be lured in to secondhand bookshops, but just occasionally an item other than a book will catch my eye. The little trinket box above was one such item.

I bought it at Tintern Abbey, and as you can just about see, it sits on our mantelpiece above the fireplace at home. Tintern is a couple of hours away, but it makes an excellent destination for a day out, particularly in the spring when the banks of the Wye are awash with snowdrops. Thoughts of Wordsworth are never far from my mind, and I have to think quite hard to imagine what the area must have been like BEFORE the poet penned his famous Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798.

'Wreaths of smoke' occasionally waft up from cottage chimneys to this day, but I doubt they emanate from the cave of a hermit, deep in the woods. With the advent of photography and the popularity of the snapshot, we began to think in terms of a moment or split-second captured in time or caught on film. These days we are becoming more accustomed to taking moving images. I find it fascinating that Wordsworth's heart did not stop beating (as in a snapshot moment), but that he recorded 'sensations sweet, / Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart'. Life pulsed through his poetic veins in tune with the rushing waters of the Wye. Wordsworth wrote his poem in blank verse, and it is (in my opinion) the iambic pentameters that imbue the piece with vitality - and become the vessels for the poet's wide-ranging thoughts and moods. Memory plays a key part in this piece and should never be underestimated.

Incidentally, I believe that the acorn in the photo is from the species, Turkey oak or Quercus cerris.

Plate Friday posts: Elizabeth at About New York is hosting this mini-carnival. You can find all the links at her blog. Do take a look. I wonder how many corners of the globe are represented.


Downunderdale said...

thanks for visiting my blog Caroline - I have enjoyed visiting your corner of the world - I loved my visit to Wales a few years back - wonderful part of the world - Dale

poefusion said...

I loved the bee earring you linked to.

Isn't it neat to look back at what we've collected through the years and recalling why we did. I hope you will start collecting your jugs again but, if not then maybe something new and refreshing.

You speak of Wordsworth as though he was a personal friend, how endearing. I love how you closed the post out with his words.

Elizabeth said...

I love your little china box.
I was at school in Malvern and we studied Tintern Abbey...a very wonderful poem indeed.
Loved your meditation on collecting.
I'm adding you to the list if that's OK?

Unknown said...

Hello Coastguard,

Thanks for visiting me and for your kind words! Your box is very attractive. I had a passion for trinket/patch boxes, of which I had quite a lot. They are now whittled down to a special few!

Margaret Gosden said...

Love the china box. How provocative!

Leslie said...

These are beautiful!

Kat Mortensen said...

I'm a great fan of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets, but strangely, my taste in plates is anything but.

I love you Tintern Abbey trinket box.


Barrie said...

I wonder if you'll start up your collection again. Very fun post.

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely trinket box!