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Feorlean

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Sunday 8 May 2011: Blossomed Furze

The line has been going through my head for days, as - criss crossing Argyll - I have seen the gorse (furze is an old english word for it) coming into wonderful bloom. This is from the bushes by the ruin above my house, just after the latest of today's heavy showers, but last Sunday at the back of the village hall on Coll, there were was a solid wall of the stuff showing the brightest yellow.

Of course the line is from Goldsmith's "The Deserted Village" , in the section about the school master :

Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school;


Looking at it again this morning, it stuck me that earlier in the poem there is another section that might give Argyll pause for thought. The first line of this part was the title for a very fine 1983 film by Bill Bryden about St Kilda and its evacuation. Within the whole thing there is also however a type of warning about what could happen if the present policies of Argyll & Bute Council with regard to rural services and rural depopulation are not reversed:

Ill fares the land , to hast'ning ill a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and Lords may flourish, or may fade:
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
but a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed can never be supplied.


Anyway, the whole thing can be had here. It makes good Sunday afternoon reading, on a day when I am trying to relax (though there is a lot of paper on my desk and a lot of emails still unanswered !)

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