Clouds Hill is the tiny cottage in Dorset to which T.E. Lawrence escaped to after his adventures in Arabia to revise his manuscript for Seven Pillars of Wisdom. When we visited last summer, I felt no sense of this austere little house being a home, despite the pretty blue door, the sun-washed walls and the gentle coo of wood-pigeons in the surrounding wood. Over the door are the Greek words Ou Phrontis which mean “Don’t care”. I left Clouds Hill wondering what was really meant by that meticulously chiselled phrase. Lawrence never really lived anywhere. His was a restless soul, which seemed to demand a contradictory desire to lock itself away. The cottage is essentially a man’s den, owned by a man who in a way never grew beyond his solitary childhood, although he saw and experienced much more than most men ever do.
Even his dedication in Seven Pillars of Wisdom remains a mystery. Who, or what, is “S.A”?
I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
When we came.
Death seemed my servant on the road, till we were near
Love, the way-weary, groped to your body, our brief wage
Men prayed me that I set our work, the inviolate house,
The little things creep out to patch themselves hovels
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