Like leaving, departure is as much concerned with beginnings as it is with endings.
I feel sad to leave this quiet house, but I’m lucky to be beginning a relationship with North Cornwall, The Charles Causley Trust, and Causley’s work, and I’m going to be back in a number of capacities in the coming year, and hopefully years to come.
Although often typified as the Launceston poet, Causley too was no stranger to departure, often leaving here to make new beginnings of his own. Whether it was off to Plymouth to enlist and leave for war, or off to Peterborough for teacher training, or in his later years to the far flung corners of the world for readings and residencies, it’s clear from the photos, notes, possessions and poems, that Charles was well acquainted with the world. And so departing often invokes returning; departing is division, but there is a hope for coming back.
Sadly, for many, departure can be more final: it does undeniably sing of our dearly departed. In the poem Sibard’s Well Causley invites us to remember the sounds of the previous residents of this place, and as I sit in Cyprus well I imagine the sound of the steam trains that ran to Plymouth from the bottom of the lane. In much of Causley’s earlier work he associates the train to Plymouth and the Plymouth-Devonport area with departure over the endless seas, with his comrades lost in the Second World War. I’ve retraced some of his steps around Stonehouse and Devonport, awed by the architecture, quieted by the terrible history. Yet there now is hopeful too of new beginnings, crossings and adventures. Plymouth is a rich and edgy multicultural city, which yawns out to sea and ever encourages onwards.
My final act as Poet in Residence is a solo trek of the coast of Cornwall and the Devon Cornwall border. I depart next week. The walk is a time to reflect and look back, but also looks forward in a number of ways (to the poetry app series for instance). I’ll be documenting the trek in verse on my blog, and I look forward to stopping a night in Launceston, as I course down the border.