Crumbling Rusey Cliff, 3 km from Tresparett, Cornwall: photo by Jon Coupland, 18 May 2007
You did not walk with me
Of late to the hill-top tree
By the gated ways,
As in earlier days;
You were weak and lame,
So you never came,
And I went alone, and I did not mind,
Not thinking of you as left behind.
I walked up there to-day
Just in the former way;
The familiar ground
By myself again:
What difference, then?
Only that underlying sense
Of the look of a room on returning thence.
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928): The Walk from Poems of 1912-1913, in Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries (1914)
I rode my pretty mare Fanny and he walked by my side and I showed him some more of the neighbourhood -- the cliffs, along the roads, and through the scattered hamlets, sometimes gazing down at the solemn small shores below where the seals lived, coming out of great caverns very occasionally. We sketched and talked of books: often we walked down the beautiful Valency Valley to Bodcastle harbour where we had to jump over stones and climb over a low rail by rough steps, or get through by narrow pathways to come out on great wide spaces suddenly, with a sparkling little brook going the same way, into which we once lost a tiny picnic tumbler, and there it is to this day no doubt between two small boulders.
-- Emma Hardy: from Some Recollections, ed. Evelyn Hardy and Robert Gittings, 1961
Not till his first wife had died could Hardy's love poetry for her have been written, and then it was mixed with a flood of regret and remorse for what he had lost. This kind of paradox is inseparable from poetic creation, and indeed from life altogether. At times it almost appears a sort of basic insincerity in human affection. At others it seems a flaw built deeply into the working of the emotions, creating an inevitable bias in life towards unhappiness.
-- Philip Larkin: from Mrs Hardy's Memories, 1962, in Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 (1982)
Beeny Cliff, looking down the steep steps to Seals Hole: photo by Jon Coupland, 18 May 2007
Beeny Cliff. Looking north along the cliffside from a point on the coast path just above Seals Hole: photo by Tony Atkin, 13 September 2009
Coastal footpath at North Lodge junction. We met these birders who were watching a Peregrine falcon: photo by Jon Coupland, 18 May 2007
A Long Way Down. If you approach High Cliff on the coast path from the south the ascent is very steep indeed: photo by Tony Atkin, 13 September 2009
Buckator Cliff and Gull Rock. Sheer black cliffs on the westwards facing headland: photo by Tony Atkin, 13 September 2009
Gull Rock and Buckator Cliff: photo by Jon Coupland, 18 May 2007