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Saturday, 27 March 2010

There's a call from Castle Cary; John Mackie; Parson Woodforde; R.R.C. Gregory

“Teäke I, when my zun’s-a-zet,
No vurder west nor Zomerset.”

 Ground plan of Normandy, Castle Cary

Castle Cary has a very special place in my heart. My feelings for Castle Cary, as it once was, are well expressed by John Mackie, who was a master of the Somerset dialect ("Dialect Poems and a Play", Folk Press Ltd, 1925).

There's a call from Castle Cary

When the dew be on the daisies, when the dawn be in the sky,
When the birds do start their praises in vull-droated harmony,
There's a tuggen at the heart-strings, there's a stirren in the breast,
Then once more do vlow the mind-springs droo thik message vrom the west.


There's a call from Castle Cary, whispered by the western breeze,
There's a call vrom Castle Cary vrom the hedgerows an' the trees.
Vrom the grass-grounds, brooks, and uplands, vrom the dawn and close o' day
There's a call vrom Castle Cary- I must go wi'out delay.....

As someone who has spent much of his life in "vur-off lands" and who often has to 'twist his tongue' with French and Greek, I enjoy John Mackie's poem "Zomerzet"

What languages the volk do speak
To I, wold vashioned, beant no odds;
They’m vree wi’ Latin, Vrench or Greek,
To twist their tongues; but by the Gods!
Just pray I never shan’t vorget
The speech o’ good wold Zomerzet!

Some volk do goo to zee the zights
Athirt the sea to vur-off lands;
An' climb the white-capp'd giddy heights,
When scenes so veair be close at hand.
Thik view once zeed who can vorget
Vrom Lodge Hill down to Zomerzet?

I used to live in Castle Cary, close to Lodge Hill, which could be the reason why I love that last couplet:

"Thik view once zeed who can vorget
Vrom Lodge Hill down to Zomerset?"

Mackie writes in his foreword (25 November, 1925):

"If I can lay claim to any merit in the verses it is that they are from the heart, and if any of them strike a responsive chord in the breasts of my readers I shall rejoice...Some of the happiest hours of my life have been spent in the delightful company of sons of the soil in Somerset, under whose homespun coats beat some of the truest and noblest hearts in Christendom; nature's true gentlemen."

John Mackie on William Barnes, Southern Times, April 21, 1923

Parson Woodforde chronicled the life of Castle Cary and Ansford in his diary. Here's a typical extract, from September 22, 1769:

"Great rejoicings at Cary to-day being the Coronation Day. Bells ringing all day, Cudgell playing at Crokers, a very large bonfire on the top of the hill and very grand fireworks in the evening with the firing of many guns. All at Mr. Creed's, Mr. Hindley and Mr Potts and Duck's expense. I was at all...The fireworks were sent from London and were Sky-Rocketts, Mines, Crackers, Wheels and divers Indian Fireworks."

Finally, a poem by R.R.C. Gregory, from "Poems in Dialect" (1922)

and by Douglas Macmillan - published in  "From Camel to Cary"

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