DREAM OF WINTER These were the sounds that dinned upon his ear – The spider’s fatal purring, and the grey Trumpeting of old mammoths locked in ice. No human sound there was: only the evil Shriek of the violin sang of human woe And conquest and defeat, and the round drums Sobbed as they beat. He saw the victim nailed against the night With ritual stars. The skull, a ruin of dreams, Leaned in the wind, merry with curl and thorn. The long robes circled. A penitential wail For the blue lobster and the yellow cornstalk And the hooded victim, broken to let men live, Flashed from their throats. Then all the faces turned from the Winter Man. From the loch’s April lip a swan slid out In a cold rhyme. The year stretched like a child And rubbed its eyes on light. Spring on the hill With lamb and tractor, lovers and burning heather. Byres stood open. The wind’s blue fingers laid A migrant on the rock. FROM: The Faber Book of 20th Century Verse Edited by John Heath-Stubbs & David Wright
Such a beautiful evening walking back. Horses in a field, honeysuckle, cow parsley, wild roses and not a soul on the road. A little stone bench by a waterfall. And downhill all the way.
SONG XII from TWELVE SONGS
For something a bit different – here is SONG XII set to music by Benjamin Britten.
Peformed by Karen Coker (soprano) and Eric Jenkins (Piano)
The last day of May.
I decided to walk to Froe to collect some veg from J who lives in the Hobbit house.
The heat, even at 4.30, was blistering, and it is quite a steep climb, especially for a fatty like me who has not done a great deal of walking during this lockdown. Every day, I see the same people walking past the house on their constitutionals and keep thinking to myself that I will do the same.
The walk to Froe winds up a hill through woods and next to a stream for some of it. Three cars passed in the hour it took me to get there. All I could hear was birdsong, insects, the wind in the trees and a sudden waterfall. There were two horses in a field full of yellow flag and cow parsely. As I climbed higher, I looked back and the sea had appeared in the distance.
On the way home from Skibb. Empty roads, birdsong, lush hedgerows. It was so long since I had driven further than Clon it felt like an odyssey. I stopped off to take this photo. The summer yachts have all disappeared. It was still and quiet in the harbour which would usually have been heaving on a day like this.
Looking out to sea.
MARINA Quis hic locus quae Regio, quae mundi plaga? What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands What water lapping the bow And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog What images return O my daughter. Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning Death Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning Death Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning Death Those who suffer the ecstacy of the animals, meaning Death Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind, A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog By this grace dissolved in place What is this face, less clear and clearer The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger – Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the Eye Whisper and small laughter between leaves and hurrying Feet Under sleep, where all the waters meet. Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat. I made this, I have forgotten And remember. The rigging weak and the canvas rotten Between one June and another September. Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own. The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking. This form, this face, this life Living to live for a world of time beyond me; let me Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken, The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships. What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers And woodthrush calling through the fog My daughter. FROM: Collected Poems 1909-1962 T.S. Eliot Faber Paperbacks