Sunday 27 January 2013

Memorial Day, going back a while.

This time a year ago the History Girls rallied round me. I lost my true love: they let me off blogging duties for months, sent exceptionally kind messages, and had a whip-round to send me rosemary, for remembrance. Thank you -

So now, as this post goes out on the day of his memorial concert - he was a composer - I'm going to remember him. And I'm going to do it in a historical way - in my usual historical way, actually. I'm going to report on the ancestors.

When I was little there was a small typed piece of paper stuck up the bath, which, steam-stained and ancient, read thus: 'This family is directly descended in two lines from Robert the Bruce, therefore we should rescue spiders from a dreary end in the bath'. My grandfather (he died in 1960) had put it up, and I spent much of my childhood rescuing spiders from a dreary end in the bath. At one stage, knowing that Marat had met such an end, I believed him to be spider. Such is the confusion of small knowledge on small people. But I digress.

 - or, more realistically - 

When I wrote my Book of the Heart, in the last years of the last century, I discovered that Robert the Bruce wanted, when he died, his heart to be taken to Jerusalem. It was accordingly taken south, via Spain, by one Sir James Douglas, in 'ane case of silver fyn, enamilit throu subtilite', which he wore around his neck. With 'Good Sir James', 'the Black Douglas', rode Sir Symon Locard of Lee who, having distinguished himself fighting the English, was given the honour of carrying the key to the precious case.

Sir James and his party got caught up in a battle between the King of Castile and the Saracen King of Granada. In the course of it, surrounded by enemies and seeing that all was lost, Sir James took his precious necklace and flung in front of him into the heat of the fight, crying: 'Onward as thou wert wont, I will follow or die!'

He died . . .

The heart in its locket was discovered, after the battle, under Sir James's corpse. It was taken up, and Sir Symon and Sir William Keith carried it back to Melrose Abbey in Scotland. (There, after being lost, and the subject of much dispute, it was finally reburied in a new box in 1998. Yes, 1998.)

After his return, Sir Symon Locard changed his family name  to Lockheart, later Lockhart. He added to the family coat of arms a heart in a fetterlock, and the motto Cordo serata pando: I open locked hearts.

So. My beloved was called Robert Lockhart. Did his many-times grandfather carry the key to my many-times grandfather's heart, or the heart itself, back in the fourteenth century? It gave us pleasure to imagine so. 

At my father's funeral I read this poem: 
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Robert set it to music for me. Before he lost his voice to throat cancer, he recorded himself reading it, over the beautiful piano and violin setting he had written. Susan Bullock is going to sing it on Sunday - today, when you read this. 

Looking it up today, I came across this: - scroll down, and you will find the heart-carrying section. Yes, it gives me ideas. 

Raise a glass to him today. He had the key to mine. 



Joan Lennon said...

Thank you for sharing with us.

adele said...

Wonderfully moving post, Louisa. I will indeed think of you and him. You were lucky to have had one another.

Imogen said...

A lovely post, Louisa. Ned and I had the cummings poem as one of our wedding readings this summer. We'll think of you both today.

Katherine Langrish said...

This has me in tears, Louisa, and what can one say but echo Adele's words. I'm glad the sun is shining today for you both.

Stroppy Author said...

A lovely, moving post and tribute, Louisa. I hope the ceremony went well, and cherished memories help to balance the pain. I will just go and pour a glass, now to raise to him - and to you, in whom he lives on.

Penny Dolan said...

A wonderful, thoughtful post. A glass to him and those memories of your true love.

Leslie Wilson said...

A very moving post

michelle lovric said...

Very moving, laughter and tears.
thank you