Of Poets and Revolutionaries.

Hello again Folks,

Today is the 13 of July, the day before Bastille day. It is appropriate to go off my usual health topics and talk of two major figures who have their anniversaries today.

One is Jean Paul Marat. He was the French Revolutionary who is remembered in the film/play Marat/Sade. Today was the day in 1793 when he was killed in the bath by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin sympathiser. Marat belonged to the Jacobin faction in revolutionary France. He was sort of the propaganda arm of the Jacobin leadership. Through his pamphlets and news sheet he urged extreme nationalism and the destruction of the aristocracy. The French populace loved his rage filled writings. He whipped up the mood which gave birth to the Reign of Terror after him. His crushing of the Girondin faction incensed Corday. She had a patriotic mission too. She believed she was saving France from civil war. So she gained entry to Marat’s house and murdered him in the bath with one stab to the heart. Now why was Marat in the bath? He suffered from a suppurating skin disease which some suspect was acquired when hiding in the sewers of Paris. He needed to soak himself in a medicinal bath to avoid pain. Marat incidentally was killed on the eve of the 4th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. Corday probably chose the day deliberately. She herself was executed 4 days later.

Well, tomorrow is Bastille Day! It all ties up.

My second nomination for the day is John Clare the peasant poet. He was born on this day in the year 1793. The same day as Marat’s death.

Clare came from a poor peasant family and he took to writing initially as a way of keeping him and his mother’s family from being evicted from their home. He was widely recognised and published as one of our foremost rural poets. He had a wide knowledge of the countryside and rural habitat. But he soon came into hard times. His health deteriorated. Eventually Clare found himself in a mental asylum where he continued to write. After about 25 years of being cared for humanely by his physician in an asylum he died and is buried in the village of Helpston where he was born.

Here is the first verse from his poem First Love:

“I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay”.

That was characteristic Clare tone, simple and beautiful. Just like the poppy I have photographed just for y’all!

Now why did I choose to write of such things in my blog? Life and health and longevity and happiness and things depend not just on our diet and exercise. They depend also on understanding of the purity and beauty in life and of the necessary chaos involved in this life on earth. Hence John Clare and Marat; the poet born on this day and the Revolutionary dead on this day 221 years ago.

So we go away and read poetry, listen to music, smell that flower and feast our eyes on colours that swirl around us. Have a holiday from the juicer and the gym for once and smell the fresh air. It is Sunday!

This entry was published on July 13, 2014 at 9:10 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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