Monday 25 August 2008


About ten years ago in Australia, one night during a wild storm, I went out to look for the horses with whom I lived on a farm. I was worried that they would be frightened in the driving wind and rain. So I set off in the dark to look for them. When I eventually found them, they were as still as trees. I threw my arms around their necks and felt their ‘there-ness’, their groundedness, their strength, there stillness, their patient energised readiness. I realised it was me that was frightened, not them, and they calmed me down.

That’s a bit like how I remember Bram. Not that I ever threw my arms around his neck, although sometimes I rather wish I had.

One of the things I loved about Bram was the way he looked at young people, in particular in this context the students, as a possibility or an opportunity – rather than, say, a ‘problem’. He helped so many people (including me) ground themselves here, learn about here and how to be here: its histories, its forms of life, its cycles, its trajectories, its habitats (in particular, those of animals), its miraculousness. My colleagues and I often requested meetings with Bram, and sought his guidance; he never refused our requests.

Laurie Anderson once said, ‘When my father died, it felt as if a whole library had burnt down’. I think we have all lost a library with Bram. And yet his generosity, enthusiasm, knowledge, his sense of responsibility to the future through young people left all of us who knew him – who walked and talked with him – with pages from some of the books, and even whole books. We carry them with us in our bodies and our memories, and like seeds, out of them new life will grow.

A tribute to Bram Bartlett, estate warden at Dartington, delivered at his funeral in early October 2005. He had worked at Dartington since 1949

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