Friday, December 31, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
He then walked out (hunched over his cane, looking frail in his flowing Oxford gown) to a standing ovation that shook the room, and did not stop for a very long time. I was thrilled to have been there, and I look forward to the next lecture (the professorship comes with an obligation to do a 15-lecture series). I went to the reception room afterward to meet him, though he really wasn't feeling well and couldn't stay long. They were selling copies of his books there, and I flipped through the Selected Poems to get a sense of his writing. His early work is quite beautiful, though the more recent collection was rather harsh and dealt with contemporary problems. Nevertheless, I liked him enough to purchase the book, and I got him to sign it for me, so I now have autographed books from the 43rd and 44th Oxford Professors of Poetry. I wonder if I can make this a running tradition...
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Then I left and was going to head straight home when I saw that card shop by Bonn Square...I think it's called Scribbler? I thought I might see what kind of Christmas cards they had, but it was really crowded, so I only stayed for a minute and then left. I was crossing the street and just considering walking into Marks and Spencers (where I have still never been) when I was accosted by three girls. They said, "Excuse me, this is going to sound really weird, but we're from a Bible School and we wondered if we might pray for you?" They explained that they had been working on a little assignment where they were supposed to feel inspiration, and they had *seen* me in little visions, wearing my colorful hat and coming out of a green building (Scribbler is green-fronted). They showed me a paper with questions they had answered and a little stick figure drawing. They asked me my name, and then said they had all been guessing names with -el at the end--one said her guess had been "Muriel". The one girl who had spoken first said, "we just want you to know that God knows you, and he wanted us to find you and pray for you." I was so touched by their sincerity, so inexplicably moved, it brought tears to my eyes! I said they could pray for me, if they wanted to. They asked if I had anything in particular I wanted them to pray for, and I said just my family, to which they replied that they had thought that family was very important, and wondered if I were concerned for them over the holiday. I said only because I wasn't going home to see them. So we stood in a little circle and the one girl prayed aloud for me and my family, and she thanked God for showing me to them and for helping them to share the power of prayer. Then they wished me a good day, and I wished them the same. As I walked away from them, feeling somehow joyful, I smiled at a rather gruff-looking man walking by (not a flirty smile, more just a pay-it-forward kind of smile) and he smiled back. He dropped a glove as he did so, but he didn't notice and walked on, so I picked it up and ran after him. When I gave it back he stared at me with a sort of raptured face, as if he had seen an angel, and he thanked me repeatedly. What a very strange afternoon interlude!]
I think I shall have to end there for today, as it is already 2:00 and I have not showered nor dressed for tonight, nor have I worked on that presentation. I will try to find time to fill in the rest of November soon--I was looking forward to writing about the Christmas Lights night, the Student Occupation of the Radcliffe Camera, the Thanksgiving Dinner put together by the Americans in my strand, the IWL-B races on a freezing Sunday afternoon, drinks with the Telethon organisers, and the amazing lecture by new Professor of Poetry Geoffrey Hill! All this and more, coming soon to a blog near you.