Healing, Dreaming, Nature and the Nature of Reality

Old Meg, Old Moira and the Prophetic Power of Poetry

megm1Greetings. I hope you like this photo of me striding across Dartmoor. It’s a selfie I took the other day while I was wandering about up there. In my fierce distracted way I was thinking that the poems and stories we love in early childhood seem sometimes to contain some essence of who we will become. Years ago when I used to teach astrology, I used to get students to remember their favourite fairy stories, then we looked at their birth charts and the correlations were wonderfully close. You could say the chart told the story, or the story found expression in the chart. Certainly each reflected the other.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my relationship with the early John Keats poem, Meg Merrilies. It was the first poem I ever knew, and I would have been hearing it since I was a baby, as my mother had learned it by heart at school and loved to recite it. Here’s how it starts.

Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
spacerAnd liv’d upon the Moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
spacerAnd her house was out of doors.

Her apples were swart blackberries
spacerHer currants pods o’ broom;
Her wine was the dew of the wild white rose,
spacerHer book a churchyard tomb.

Her brothers were the craggy hills
spacerHer sisters larchen trees –
Alone with her great family
spacerShe liv’d as she did please.

No breakfast had she many a morn,
spacerNo dinner many a noon,
And ‘stead of supper she would stare
spacerFull hard against the Moon….. etc

Much as I love John Keats, this isn’t one of his best poems, but I used to love it. I loved the freedom and wildness of Meg’s life, her intimacy with trees and flowers and Moon, and her independence – all carried to me in my mother’s lovely young voice. And despite all the other people I’ve been in my life, I have to say I’ve turned out quite Meggy in the end. I still come indoors most nights, but in another ten years who knows?

What about you? What was the first poem or story you loved as a child? Does it contain something of the story of your subsequent life? Does it give a hint of who you’ve become? If we simply look, we see how the world constantly reveals us to ourselves.


5 Responses to “Old Meg, Old Moira and the Prophetic Power of Poetry”

  1. lizziecarver

    I loved a poem called “The Merry Tinker” – no idea who wrote it:
    One bitter day of wind and rain
    A tinker trudged along the lane,
    His hands were cold but his heart was warm,
    What cared he for wind or storm?
    He whistled a tune though his nose was red,
    “What does it matter?” the tinker said.
    The wind may blow but I don’t care,
    I have my dog and my little brown mare,
    Happy I am, and merry I be,
    Because I am free, because I am free.”
    I have it on my wall still, framed, and at the head of it is a silhouette of the tinker, his dog and his mare, trudging.
    And my favourite book was “Monty Woodpig’s Caravan” – a story of a hedgehog who took to the road and had some big adventures.
    A bit of a Sagittarian theme there, would you say?


    • Moira Lake Healing

      That’s lovely Lizzie, thank you. Yes, very Sagittarian! Fascinating that the theme of freedom comes up so strongly. I reckon Meg Merrilies, the Merry Tinker and Monty Woodpig would be a wonderful team… but then they’re not really the sort to join a team, are they?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. keatsbabe

    Hi Moira – a lovely post which I have reblogged onto No wriggling out of writing. My favourite poem as a young teenager was ‘When I have fears…’ by Keats. It definitely hints at the future writer in me!


    • Moira Lake Healing

      Thanks for reblogging, Keatsbabe. Yes, ‘When I have fears…’ is such a poignant poem, but it’s wonderful to know you were so full of inspiration. I suppose the only thing worse than dying before one’s gleaned one’s teeming brain is perhaps gleaning it first, and having nothing left!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. keatsbabe

    Reblogged this on No more wriggling out of writing …… and commented:
    I loved this post by Moira Lake, about her early relationship with the Keats poem ‘Meg Merillees’ (which was written by Keats on his walking tour of 1818, in a letter to his young sister).

    Moira asks us what our own favourite childhood poem was, and I can honestly say that the first poem I remember as having a real impact on me was, at the age of 12, Keats’s ‘When I have fears…’ and yes Moira, it does I think give a hint of who I have become!

    Do take a look at Moira’s post on her blog, which is full of wise words, and let us know which poem made an impact on you as a child, and why – we would love to know your favourites.



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