Hard Line (Or Not)

If you describe someone’s policy or attitude as hard-line, you mean that it is strict or extreme, and that they refuse to change it. –Collins English Dictionary.

‘lines’ photos taken by Nigel on 30 March 2020.
Tapanui, West Otago, New Zealand.

On that day we were getting some fresh air and exercise, wandering around on Tapanui’s rugby field and golf course and Nigel got interested in taking photos of various lines. I’d already been taking photos of goalposts myself, but not specifically of lines in the grass (the wiggly ones are sheep tracks).

I wasn’t sure how I’d structure this post – it ended up pretty much taking its own course!


Some lean more to the centre, or the left, or the right.

Those with ambition and discipline get their goals all lined up

and everything aligned with their goal

but …  ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.’

I had no idea until now, that this saying is derived from a line in a poem by Robert Burns called To A Mouse. He included “To a Mouse” in his first collection of poems — “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect” in 1786.

here’s the verse in which it appears:

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Last verse of the same poem:

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me;
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects dreaer!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

At the poem page (already linked to above) there was also an analysis and I thought I’d share the final paragraph here:

“The Industrial Revolution took over the agrarian life and affected peasants everywhere, where there was not much chance of rising up the social ladder and they felt the pinch of inequality. Since Burns’s family worked on a farm and suffered from oppression and poverty, he could understand well the mouse’s predicament.”

Text by Liz, photos by Nigel; Exploring Colour (2020)

11 thoughts on “Hard Line (Or Not)

Add yours

  1. One of my grandmothers used to recite that poem, it was one of her favorites. She was also probably the one person I knew, who remembered more than the first stanza of “Auld Lang Syne”! I wonder why the sheep tracks wander like that, you’d think they’d make a bee line to the other pasture, or whatever their sheep-ish goal was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Loved hearing about your grandmother reciting the poem – she was Scottish with strong Scottish accent perhaps? That must’ve been great to hear! Perhaps the sheep deviate and take a meandering path where there’s some favourite plants to graze along the way. That was the only guess that came to mind!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My grandmother was American, her mom was Penna. German, but her father’s family was British, and she loved anything to do with the UK. She was a schoolteacher, and liked to teach kids to recite little poems, although I think Robbie Burns was probably too tough for grade-schoolers.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the link to the full text and analysis of the poem. I’d never read To a Mouse all the way through before, and although the dialect is challenging it’s plainly a perceptive and rather beautiful piece. I’d never before thought of Burns as a champion of mindfulness, but I think that would be a modern interpretation of his central message. Great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought of you as I published this, it’s a bit outside of my ‘normal’, leaning toward your style I think. The interest Nigel had taken in ‘lines’ led to a different kind of post! I’m an admirer of what you do with your photography / blogging, picking up on the unexpected!

      Liked by 1 person

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