Saturday, 3 July 2010

Does not care?

T.E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia," that fascinatingly complex and elusive character, (described by George Orwell in the 1930s as the nearest thing Britain had to 'a right-wing intellectual') carved over the front door of the cottage in which he lived at  Clouds Hill near Wareham, this Greek inscription, OU ØPOVTIS - from  Herodotus, translated either as "does not care" or, even,  "why worry?"
I'm beginning to understand what he might have meant, although 'does not care' and 'cares too much' are, paradoxically, not emotionally that far apart.
The attitude of detachment it implies seems sometimes infinitely more in line with the Gospels than (to our eyes at least) the rather smug words which R.S. Hawker (actually not such a smug man - credited with the  invention of the "harvest festival," but much more interesting than that fact alone implies) had carved over the front door of his Vicarage at Morwenstow:
" A house, a glebe, a pound a day, A pleasant place to watch and pray. Be true to Church, be kind to poor, Minister for evermore ! "
For the present, I'll go with OU ØPOVTIS
What would you put over your door?

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing."
T.S. Eliot:  'East Coker'

1 comment:

  1. Reading this, I am minded to rename my rectory 'Y Wurri' like the clergyman in Edmund Crispin's last novel.


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