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Walking with Wordsworth

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Dove Cottage

Anjana Parikh takes you back into that era of the famous poet William Wordsworth

She guided a group of tourists including Paresh and me into the Dove Cottage—the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth in Grasmere, Lake District.

After her welcome speech, Margret, the guide, pointed her index finger towards the corner of the room where a tea chest was waiting for our attention. She said, “Can you see that tea chest? This is the box where William Wordsworth used to store his tea leaves under lock and key.” “Under lock and key…?” I asked in disbelief. Margret said, “In those days, tea was very expensive, so people like Wordsworth used and reused them before drying and distributing to the poor people.”

Wordsworth came across his first Grasmere home by chance as he and his brother John walked along the lane with his fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in late 1799. He and his sister Dorothy moved in just a few weeks later.

Before our raised eye-brows could even settle down, the lady disclosed another secret of the Wordsworth’s house. She opened the door of the kitchen, and adjacent to it was a tiny room. We joked. ‘There must be some hidden treasures of the poet.’

In her chaste British accent, Margret said, “That’s a poor guess work. In those days, this tiny room was used for storing food and meat.” The room was Wordsworth family’s refrigerator. Thanks to Mother Nature. The stream water flowing gently under the floor of the room gave such a cooling effect above that even companies like Osborne or Miele, would think twice before marketing their newly manufactured refrigerators.

As we climbed the narrow, wooden stairs, the cuckoo on the wall seemed as if time had stood still. It was this massive clock which still takes the vantage point at Dove Cottage, inspired Wordsworth to write ‘To the Cuckoo’—the poem which talks about the unseen bird roaming around, which is just a metaphor used to indicate the idea  of time.

Dove Cottage with its stone floors, dark panelled rooms, coal fires and the family’s own belongings; little has changed in this house since Wordsworth lived here.

And a stroll in the Dove Cottage garden, is like walking with Wordsworth; it’s a place of refuge, meditation and inspiration. Here they planted flowers and vegetables, watched birds and butterflies and, most importantly, read, talked and wrote poetry including ‘Daffodils’.

We all are poetic in some way or the other, and walking in and around Grasmere and the Dove Cottage, sparked an inspiration in me to write a few lines for my beloved.

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