A short period of illness can be useful for a writer, forming a firebreak between stretches of intense mental activity; not so much scorched earth as a fertile space where new ideas can spring up, free from other influences.
So my brief spell in bed most of Easter and into this week has been useful for that reason, and also as physical downtime, good for recharging the batteries, or refilling the well, however you want to see it.
Filled with new energy, I took myself into Oxford today and renewed my Bodleian card in order to read this book, which I couldn't afford to buy and which is simply not available through the usual library channels.
It was a worthwhile trip. Not only did I manage some research into the impact of Old English on modern poetry - my pet project this spring - but a few phrases in Chris Jones' magnificent Strange Likeness: The Use of Old English in Twentieth-Century Poetry struck hard, in particular when touching on Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns, and left me far more sure of my direction as I begin work on my own extended poem/poem sequence inspired by Warwick Castle:
The present book's title comes from the twenty-ninth of Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns, a sequence of poems that dissolves historical linearity to superimpose glimpsed shards of the reign of Offa ... with fragmentary images of the twentieth-century Midlands, a mosaic of the familiar and the unfamiliar which prompts the speaker in the hymn to comment: 'Not strangeness, but strange likeness.'
Now playing: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Souvenir