Virginia Barton

1 May 2014: Grace before food


1 May 2014


This Commonplace couldn’t have less to do with May Day if it tried…


GraceAlways different, and always with an ear for the unusual, my Mother was blessed with a phenomenal memory until the day she died. She could recite reams of poetry, chunks of plays and the Bible, and had a horde of songs going back to her childhood at the start of WW1. Her store of jokes was minimal, but she was an instant, on the hoof rhymester, doggerel by the yard and without hesitation. Consequently she was great fun to be with and was always surrounded by friends and admirers — an attraction to herself she worried about.

“Beware of charm, girls”, she would say.


We always said Grace before meals and here is one of the most memorable my Mother taught us, written by Robert Herrick (1591-1674). Perhaps you know it?


A Child’s Grace
Here a little child I stand
Heaving up my either hand;
Cold as paddocks though they be
Here I lift them up to Thee,
For a benison to fall,
On our meat and on us all. Amen.


The “paddocks” always intrigued me; I knew about paddocks with ponies in them but they obviously didn’t apply here.

Now aged 77+, I discover that these ones are frogs — and all is immediately made clear! Mummy would have assumed we knew what paddocks were, so never bothered to enlighten us. Unless, unless, she didn’t know either?  Unthinkable!



P.S.  I am still trying to find more Irishisms to add to my previous CP, and to the ones Doris and Mary contributed. It was suggested that the works of John B Keane could be a rich source. But I think our congregation at the parish church will be even richer. Will go armed with notebook for the next few Sundays. VB



Incidentally, I meant to say that BH favours very short Graces, in Latin:
Before: Benedictus benedicat, and after: Benedicto benedicatur.  G.







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