friday feast: tea for two and three

“Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.” ~ Catherine Douzel

Sip and stay awhile . . .

Happy Poetry Friday!

We’re serving tea and treats today to celebrate National Hot Tea Month. Please help yourself to a cup of PG Tips, Twinings Darjeeling, or Republic of Tea’s Green Rooibos, along with a fruit tart or cupcake. (If you say, “I love poetry” three times, you may have both.)

Nothing like a good cup of tea to restore calm and tranquility, to enhance a moment of solitude and sweeten reflection. When shared, this wondrous beverage can engender the most “civilized” of conversations, a call to best behavior even when ennui or disaffection is brewing beneath the surface.

For your sipping pleasure, two poems steeped in the drama of relationships. Each cup a world unto its own with universal truth and the delicious wonderment of “what happens next?”stirred in.

IN A BATH TEASHOP
by John Betjeman

“Let us not speak, for the love we bear one another — 
Let us hold hands and look.”
She, such a very ordinary little woman;
He, such a thumping crook;
But both, for a moment, little lower than the angels
In the teashop’s ingle-nook. 

"Five O'Clock Tea" by Mary Cassatt (oil on canvas, 1880)

AT TEA
by Thomas Hardy 

The kettle descants in a cosy drone,
And the young wife looks in her husband’s face,
And then at her guest’s, and shows in her own
Her sense that she fills an envied place;
And the visiting lady is all abloom,
And says there was never so sweet a room.

And the happy young housewife does not know
That the woman beside her was first his choice,
Till the fates ordained it could not be so. …
Betraying nothing in look or voice
The guest sits smiling and sips her tea,
And he throws her a stray glance yearningly.

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Oh, what tangled webs we weave . . .

These poetic vignettes contain the seeds for full length novels. Tidy and unobtrusive, these interesting studies in compression invite us to delve and deliberate, teasing our senses. As Henry Fielding once wrote, “Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.” Poetry seems the ideal vessel for such titillating refreshment.

What drama will unfold with your next cup of tea?

♥ Jim is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Hey, Jim Hill! Please take him an extra fruit tart and enjoy all the poetic goodies being shared in the blogosphere this week.

This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, which is open to anyone who has a food-related post to share (novel, nonfiction, cookbook, movie reviews, recipes, quotes, random thoughts, etc.).

“The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.” ~ George Gissing (The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft)

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Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


			

60 thoughts on “friday feast: tea for two and three

  1. Must admit that I really like that first poem – a “thumping crook”!? Really? Hmm!

    But the second I’d read before, and find myself, as always, annoyed – with the guest, the bride, the husband – all involved make me want to smack them smartly around the ears. “Could you not have avoided this invitation?” I say to the guest. “WAKE UP!” I snap at the wife, and to the husband I just give a swift kick in the shins, and say, “Can’t always get what you want, but you’d better want what you’ve got, or get out!”

    You see now why I write for children. I’m a little hard on adults.

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    1. LOL! And here I was feeling sympathy for the wife — innocent and clueless. Yes, bad husband and saucy guest. You’re right, she should have refused the invitation, unless, of course, social dictates required her presence and refusing would only arouse more suspicion. Still, for the audience privy to this intrigue, this seemingly urbane, understated poem packs quite a surprising wallop:).

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  2. Hi, Jama. Your post took me back to tea time at my grandmother’s house in Nottingham. We all stopped *everything* for an hour of hot tea and cookies from the special tin (sometimes salt and vinegar “crisps”). Time to talk and be together. Thanks!

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    1. Like Tabatha, I wish I could have gone to tea at your grandmother’s house. Stopping everything for tea time is a great ritual, something Americans should also observe. Here, though, people would take their tea on the run, too much in a hurry for a chat.

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  3. Oh Jama, you so often give such a lot to ponder, & I suppose after this it should be over a cup of tea! I like that Fielding quote, goes so well with the 2nd poem, & considering what others in the shop might think of the couple in the first poem perhaps with that one too. My mind was all a protest with the final line from Hardy. Thank you for the thought-filled tea!

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    1. Oh, that husband! *sneer*

      The first poem reminded me of visiting Bath years ago. I could just picture the cozy teashop where they were sitting, perhaps sharing Sally Lunn bread. I like how both poems give us just enough information, leaving it to us to complete the dramas.

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  4. I’d like to go have tea with Laura’s grandmother! When I stayed with a family in England for a few weeks, the mum baked fantastic strawberry spongecakes that we would have with tea. If there was much drama behind the scenes of our tea, I missed it, but she and her Canadian husband did meet during the War. Thanks for triggering the reminiscences, Jama!:-)

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    1. Can’t beat the British when it comes to tea time. Strawberry spongecakes — yum! They all have their cookie tins and tea paraphernalia. Of course, the conversations over tea are the best:).

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    1. I would love for Tanita to step right into that situation and straighten everybody up. She’s just the one who could do it. Unless, of course, she was the fourth wheel, sister of the guest, who had a secret crush on the husband . . .

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  5. I am now going to have a cup of tea! I will take the time to make it properly and use a cup and saucer instead of a mug. It will make my day go smoothly.

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  6. What an absolutely lovely and yummy post, Jama (and nice to meet you!). I had never read the Thomas Hardy poem, and oh, how I love the intrigue and duplicity (complicity?). Delicious. Equally delicious are your photos – where in the world did you find that mud pies and fairy cakes tea set? I must have it! So glad I found your blog through Poetry Friday — looking forward to the next tea.:)

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    1. Hi Renee, Happy to meet you too. So happy you joined the gang for PF today:).

      Glad you enjoyed the poems and refreshments. The dollies tea set is by Emma Bridgewater, something I found years ago by accident in a gift shop. I think it’s a discontinued item; might be available through Ebay or something. I love Emma’s pottery and have been collecting her pieces for many years now.

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  7. I’d like the little tart and a cup of darjeeling, please.

    And the nerve of the guest in the Hardy poem! I’d like to be invited to intrigue-filled tea parties like that… it would definitely make a great story.

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    1. Darjeeling coming right up! Milk or lemon?

      Intrigue definitely makes for a good tea, all under the cloak of propriety, of course. Love that British restraint and understatement.

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      1. Milk, please.
        This poem reminds of some of the scenes in Jeeves and Wooster where there is so much going on under the surface of a formal dinner party.

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  8. I have to admit I have a mug of Assam and a Viennese whirl beside me already at the computer but a top up very welcome; especially when so daintily served.
    Thanks for reminding me about the John Betjeman. Very, very good.
    Now, shall I dunk?

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  9. Mmmm… Thank you for teatime, Jama, and the titillating poetry and quotes. Loved that ritual when we visited England (the tea, not titillation – though maybe it was there and I didn’t pick up on it?!) – and the scones. Your tarts look yummy, but I think I want a scone. Happy sipping!

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  10. I’m definitely saying ‘I love poetry’ three times:-) Yes, afternoon tea is my favorite ‘meal’ of the day. Betjeman is wicked! And his poem reminds me of going to Sally Lun’s teashop in Bath a long time ago – the first time I tasted cinnamon butter. Mmmm.

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    1. Oh, jealous you went to Sally Lunn’s! I’ve been to Bath but missed Sally’s. Love that city. Georgette Heyer’s novels made me want to go there, and of course Jane Austen’s. Yum, cinnamon butter:).

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  11. Very very suggestive. While the oldschool prude (and the wifey) in me mirrors all the sentiments noted above, the saucy wench within could not help but cock my eyebrow teasingly as I sip tea with a wicked wicked smile (i try not to sneer, not a very flattering portrait, I discovered) but yes, such tangled tangled webs we weave. Life COULD be less complicated, yes, but what to discuss over tea, then, I wonder.

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    1. LOL — you’re right. Duplicity and intrigue make good tea talk. As long as it’s about somebody else, of course. Perhaps there’s even more to this scenario — the wife having added some arsenic to the guest’s tea (a double whammy over the husband AND the poet). Now I’m getting carried away😀.

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  12. Ooh, I love that ending quote about the chink of cups and saucers. Yes yes yes! I was so sad when Ms. Rosemarie’s Special Teas closed — it was a shop very near my house, and I loved their “Parisian Lights” tea. It had a caramel tone… I have to order it now from Harney & Sons in London!

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    1. Harney & Sons — love their teas! Sorry to hear about the closing of Ms. Rosemarie’s. It does sound like a very special shop. I’ll have to order some Parisian Lights for myself sometime:). *chink chink*

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  13. I loved the first poem too. And I adore the photos. I would have begged my mom for the teddy bear picnic dishes when I was a kid. What a lovely tea and poetry post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Beth! I’m a grown up kid who still loves playing with dishes. Setting the table is my favorite thing to do. My dream is to have a live-in chef:).

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  14. i never understood why tea just didn’t do anything for me — i thought maybe it was because i wasn’t british — until i started drinking iced green tea. then something clicked. even in winter i love a good iced tea.

    ingle-nook… had to look that one up. it seemed like a word i should have known (maybe once did?) but i love that about poems, more chances to notice and study the words… with a cup of tea perhaps, even if chilled?

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    1. I’ve always been a tea person rather than a coffee person. Some of it has nothing to do with the taste of tea, but the ritual that goes with it. I’ve never had green iced tea (must try it). And isn’t inglenook a wonderful word?:)

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  15. Ah, tea time – and those lovely tea cups and delicious tea delights! My parents have lived in London for many years now, and one of my favorite things too do when we visit is to “prepare the tea tray.” I love the idea of poetry as soap opera – sch drama within the two poems you shared!

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  16. In A Bath Teashop is a sweet poem, but I really liked how Hardy managed to tell such a full and rich story in so few lines! Your tea pictures are far too tempting – I think it’s time I brewed another cup.

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  17. Mmmm…my tea time is right now, early in the morning, a big mug of STRONG All Day Breakfast tea from Republic of Tea with sugar and milk, and maybe a couple of Lotus Biscoff cookies, which we fell in love with in Belgium last summer. Speaking of Belgium, that first picture is a dead ringer for a second-floor tea shop where we took refuge one afternoon in Brugge!

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    1. Lotus Biscoff cookies? Must investigate:).

      And what a coincidence about the teashop in Brugge! I remember taking refuge many times in teashops while in England; after walking for hours, there was nothing better. I do love English Breakfast with milk; I stopped adding sugar so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about the cookies I had with it.😀

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  18. 49 comments good heavens! I’m having Jasmine Green with my Sunday morning poetry. Having lived five years in London, all these tea experiences bring back memories, both of real experiences and those I imagined I would have–and didn’t. I wonder if there’s a poem about the differences between tea time and coffee klatsch. I think I prefer the first poem because it offers fewer clues, but just enough to create intrigue.

    I just love your alphabet/animal/dishes photos. You must have so much fun!

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    1. Tea time vs. coffee klatsch = definitely good subject for a poem:). Seems it would lead to the differences between tea people and coffee people, or maybe a statement about tea’s venerability. Ever wonder why there’s such a thing as a “proper tea,” but not a “proper coffee”?😀

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  19. I have a cup of Orange Pekeo and a slice of Apple Marzipan strudel. I bought my mom two tea mugs in the same pattern in your first photo. I believe it’s Royal Albert- Lady Carlisle. I shall be getting her more as it is so lovely.

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    1. Yes, it’s Lady Carlisle! I bought my set years ago in England. Good to know it’s still available.

      Did you say Apple Marzipan Strudel? Yum!!

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