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Friday, 22 December 2017

Widow’s walk

We’ve seen a few before on roof tops in Newfoundland. This one was on a roof top in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, however. During our autumn visit there, we noticed the widow’s walk, the fenced area on the roof of a house, above the street on the hill overlooking the harbour. (The photo, taken from a horse-drawn carriage, isn’t great quality.)





In seaside communities, these roof top walking areas are associated with the families of seafarers. The woman of the house climbed to the walk and watched for her husband’s vessel to return home. Such walks were on the homes of wealthy captains because poor sailors or fishers could never have afforded such luxury. 


The sight of this widow’s walk reminded me of a poem we learned in school in Newfoundland. The poem was written by EJ Pratt who was born on the island. It speaks of the elements and how their consequences affected the women, whose stories are not often told!


                   Erosion


It took the sea a thousand years,

A thousand years to trace

The granite features of this cliff,

In crag and scarp and base. 


It took the sea an hour one night,

An hour of storm to place

The sculpture of these granite seams

Upon a woman's face. 


EJ Pratt

June 1931



                                                                           
Coastline of Newfoundland

28 comments:

DJan said...

What a moving poem! And I had heard of widow's walks before but had never seen one. And that last picture of the coastline of Newfoundland is incredible. Thank you, dear Marie. :-)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Oh, how I remember that poem from school too! I think I had it memorized at one point. And when we were in Lunenburg, we took that horse-drawn carriage tour too. It was delightful and much easier than walking up those steep streets!

Rhodesia said...

I have never heard that poem before but it is very moving. Have a great Christmas Diane

Elephant's Child said...

Add me to those who found the poem moving. Heart-breaking even.
Thank you.

Barbara said...

I find coastlines to be so interesting in their variety. From the flat sands of Florida to the white cliffs of Dover. The same yet so different.

bill burke said...

Such a powerful poem, Marie. I never heard of the Widow's Walk. The coastline is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for the sharing the Widow's Walk story and sharing it.

Anvilcloud said...

I became somewhat familiar with them in Yarmouth a few years ago.

Catarina said...

I don't remember hearing about the Widow's Walk.
I liked the poem as well.
Thanks!!
: )

Ratty said...

I have no idea where I learned about them, but I knew as soon as I saw the title what a widow's walk was. I like the idea of them. It's strange that I don't know where I learned about them.

roughterrain crane said...

Wishing you a happy Christmas.

Debbie said...

i have seen those widows walks on homes in cape may, new jersey - it too is a seaside community!!

wishing you a wonderful holiday season!!!

Down by the sea said...

Fascinating, the poem goes so well with the story behind the picture. The only building we have with a viewpoint was the ship owners house 2 miles inland, he used to go up on the roof to see which ships were in port! Sarah x

Marie Smith said...

The Newfoundland coastline is rugged, Jan.

I love that poem!

Marie Smith said...

I didn’t realize that poem was so well know across Canada, Debra.

Marie Smith said...

It is a great poem, Diane.

Marie Smith said...

It is heart-breaking indeed, EC.

Marie Smith said...

I love the variwty in our world too, Barbara.

Marie Smith said...

They don’t have widows’ walks in Ireland, Bill?

Marie Smith said...

I would imagine Yarmouth has them, AC.

Marie Smith said...

You are welcome, Catarina.

Marie Smith said...

I think the walks are an interesting feature for sure, Ratty.

Marie Smith said...

You too, RTC.

Marie Smith said...

The walks are a common feature in eastern North America I think, Debbie. Merry Christmas!

Marie Smith said...

The captains’ homes were usually the ones with the walks but they were usually closer to the water, Sarah.

The Furry Gnome said...

I've seen a few of those on houses around here.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

We were probably all using the same text book, LOL!

Marie Smith said...

Interesting, FG.

Marie Smith said...

I read Pratt is considered one of the best Canadian poets of the early part of that last century. You are probably right about the text books.