I spent some time this summer hiking in the south of England. It turned into something of a literary heritage trail as I wandered through ancient countryside, hills and woodland, villages, graveyards…
With regard to the latter, I came upon the grave of author, artist and poet Mervyn Peake, who lies alongside his wife Maeve in the village of Burpham, W. Sussex. Peake’s magnificent Gothic fantasy series, Titus Groan/Gormenghast, which I first read in my early twenties, had a major influence on my own writing.
Across the river plain from the village is Arundel Castle, the inspiration for Gormenghast.
Here are a few photographs. The inscription at the base of the gravestone reads ‘To live at all is miracle enough’ from Peake’s poem, which I’ve reproduced below.
TO LIVE IS MIRACLE ENOUGH
To live at all is miracle enough.
The doom of nations is another thing.
Here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof.
Let every painter paint and poet sing
And all the sons of music ply their trade;
Machines are weaker than a beetle’s wing.
Swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade,
Come what come may the imagination’s heart
Is constellation high and can’t be weighed.
Nor greed nor fear can tear our faith apart
When every heart-beat hammers out the proof
That life itself is miracle enough.
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