My thoughts on Desmond Hawkins, Across The Vale Of Avalon To Glastonbury.
The Vale Of Avalon To Glastonbury tells of the closure of a much loved rail line, and how the population of Glastonbury have learned to make a living from tourists who visit the area, some in search of landmarks from the days of King Arthur and his knights of the round table.
The piece really plays on the magical, mystical draw in the area by using the concept of Christmas from a child's perspective "as a childlike toyland experience. You almost expected Father Christmas driving the engine". Father Christmas, in a child's eyes is the epitome of magic. Nothing could be more special, more magical and more exciting.
Threaded within the piece there are also a number of references to "The mighty legends" of King Arthur and his knights, from my far from vast knowledge of King Arthur i know that there was a lot of magic and myths in those days, dragons, witches, the great wizard Merlin.
People visiting the area are bound to have some knowledge of its past, and this combined with the fantastically eerie scenery "The curiously formal triangular outline of the hill, with its ruined chapel on top" all adds to the area's "supernatural character".
Hawkins appears to be in complete awe of both the Vale of Avalon and Glastonbury itself. He writes with such excitement, you can well believe that in this piece he is reminiscing his own childhood experiences, especially when he talks of the train, he tells of how it felt to be on the train "as a childlike toyland experience", to know of the feeling he must have had the experience personally.
Hawkins also displays a growing sadness at the demise of the train line he "genuinely mourned as the loss of one of life's minor pleasures". I don't think that Hawkins believed the line to be minor as in not very relevant, rather that it was nothing big and flashy like Disneyland or Alton Towers, but just as pleasurable.
The author appears to really appreciate the wild ruggedness of the vale, detailing readily the great expanse of the area "The wooded slopes of the Poldens, ribboned with quiet waters" and "dense mysterious thickets of the primitive waste, a jungle of scrub and alder". Hawkins enhances his description of the Vale by using a selection of mathematical terms to demonstrate harsh the area could be, words like triangular, proportion, horizontal and geometrically and "so symmetrical it seems unnatural".
Hawkins has an appreciation, not just for the landscape, but also the inhabitants of Glastonbury. "I sympathise with the people of Glastonbury". Tourists to the area want the town to be kept as it was, in the days of King Arthur maybe? The tourists can't appreciate that people have the right to live comfortably, even in Glastonbury. "They must be weary of being told that their modern brick villas look shoddy by modern standards".
I think Hawkins is right when he states "so majestic a past can be a great burden to those who inhabit the present". I must admit that the style of some of the buildings in the area do not add to the aesthetic value, but when i visited, or rather drove through the area, if I'm honest was more interested in looking at the landscape than criticizing the buildings.
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