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April 19th, 2009

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07:37 pm - Uriconum
I took my parents for a visit to a vinyard today. It was in Wroxeter in Shropshire, near to the Wrekin and Wenlock Edge. It was a half day, with lunch, and they can't really manage more than half a day so it worked out pretty well. The fellow that showed us round was the owner and he was engaging in that way that people are who really love their subject. I was actually dreading it because I'm so tired, but it was good fun. Beautiful country of course.

Anyway Wroxter used to be the Roman city of Vericonum - which was the fourth biggest city in Britain two thousand years ago, though it's a tiny village now. Apparently the region has been granted millions of pounds to develop it into a proper archaeological world heritage centre or something, because nothing has been built there since the Romans left, so there's literally a wealth of hidden knowledge under the fields. I believe they can uncover this in a sensitive and positive way. I mean, that's in everyone's interest isn't it? It's not like an opencast mine or something.

Our vinyard man was explaining that U and V were written the same in Latin inscriptions, so it was probably not Vericonum but 'Uriconum'.

And suddenly I realised that's what AE Housman was talking about in A Shropshire Lad
'When Uricon the city stood'

I always wondered what the hell he was talking about. Here's the whole poem, and it's lovely.

On Wenlock Edge

On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
'Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
So glad you had a lovely day! There are some excellent vocal settings of Shropshire lad that are very evocative. Samuel Barber and John Ireland are the composers to look for...
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
I secretly thought I wanted to go for a walk in Shropshire, and not trail round a vinyard, but in fact it was quite enjoyable and informative and so on. Also nice to spend some time with the old folks.
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Did they have actual wine you could drink?
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Yes. We had a wine tasting, with five different wines, and they gave you a free bottle to take away, and I bought a couple more, but I haven't drunk any of that yet. It's very delicate and dry - you can't really make robust red wine this far North.

ETA - hark at me - this is just what he said today, I know zilch about it

Edited at 2009-04-19 07:11 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 19th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
LOL! You should never have said - I was wholly taken in at your expertise!

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