Herrick, Terence and Baudelaire (almost)

About to start work on a short piece on what happened to a couple of altar pieces in St Lars church in Linköping, I catch sight of a quote by Robert Herrick on a copy of “Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset”, which is lurking around on my desk waiting for a chance to divert me.

“Attempt the end, and never stand to doubt;

Nothing’s so hard but search will find it out”.

I rather like the quote but know nothing about Robert Herrick, who Wikipaedia tells me lived from 1591 to 1674. He is also responsible for

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying,

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying”. A somewhat sombre version of “carpe diem”.

Herrick was inspired by the Roman poet Terence, the quote (from Heauton Timorumenos, iv. 2,8”, The self-tormenter) being: “Ni tam difficilest quin quaerendo investigari possiet” (Nothing is so difficult but that it may be found out by seeking”). Not so sure that this is true but it’s a noble sentiment.

This leads me on to reading about Terence, who I don’t know anything about either, but who seems interesting. I discover that Baudelaire has written a poem with the same title (Self-tormenter). With a supreme effort of will, I avoid being further led astray by Baudelaire.

I have to reach my workplace by crossing a broad river in full spate and almost always fail, being swept away wherever the torrent takes me.

It occurs to me that if I wrote down the diversions of a whole day, I would have more or less produced a variant of the travails of Ishiguro’s character Ryder in “The Unconsoled”……

And now back to St Lars’ altarpieces (after checking the password to my blog..).

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