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24th April 2024

So the Persephone Festival has happened. We are elated and happy. Most of the Festival events are now available to listen to here, free of charge and for one month only. And now begins the clearing up, the thank you letters and the invoice payments. But everything went so well that it will all happen in a cheerful haze. After that we plan to spend a few days lying in a dark room with cucumber slices on our eyes/‘having a nice hot cup of tea in Quiet Street’ (see below) so there won't be a Persephone Letter this month, but instead of a letter, as Diana Athill put it, please read Virginia Graham’s marvellous 1941 poem about Bath from PB no. 22 Consider The Years:

Tomorrow I shall go to Bath, I shall leave my duties,
however nationally important, far behind me
and I shall go to that proud quiet city.
There will I be. There you will find me.

I shall climb up Gay Street where Fanny Burney stayed,
and pause in the Circus at the top of the hill.
Disregarding the admirals and the ladies in small fur hats,
my tired eyes shall drink their fill.

I will go to Royal Crescent and think of the Prince Regent.
The Prince Regent and I will look at that perfect semi-ellipse;
though there be a warden’s post there, or static water,
such shining beauty can suffer no eclipse.

The lovely balconies and the big wide windows,
the broad curving sweep of the roadway from end to end
will remind me that whatever I say, and I say a great deal,
this is what I am fighting to defend.

Let me stand quietly there and think of quiet things;
or if I cannot think, then let me stare.
For, if the hand truly fashions what the heart desires,
here man is not forsaken, here I need not despair.

Down Milsom Street, shadowed by Beau Nash,
shadowed by Jane Austen and Doctor Oliver and William Pitt,
I will wend my way, peacefully and gratefully remembering
elegance and biscuits and kindly wit.

Tomorrow I shall go to Bath. Yes, there you will find me,
having a nice hot cup of tea in Quiet Street.
And my soul will be as quiet too as a limpid pool,
as quiet as a grey dove my soothed heart’s beat.

Nicola Beauman

Persephone Books

8 Edgar Buildings


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