Monday, March 19, 2007
I went to last summer’s sunflower field. It’s been flattened and lightly manured, a pervasive smell of old cow-dung in the air. Three sunflowers were still standing, much as in my last visit: skeletal, downcast. See my other posts with the “sunflowers” label. I needed my hat and gloves for the field is exposed and the wind bore the sharp sting of sleet. The neighbouring woods were unquiet, their boughs sighing and agitated in the wind, echoing with pheasants’ hoarse cries and the distant barking of dogs. The sun had set but the horizon was still a bright space between lowering clouds and the twinkling lights on distant hills.
I was drawn to this desolate pilgrimage in order to understand the value of home, the roof and walls which protected me. The flickering TV screen was an abomination in mine eyes. Heedless of the weather my heart yearned for the open sky.
I feel a tide turning in the world, or at least in myself, a tiny part of this world.
On September 12th 2001 I said “Now America will come to its senses. It will understand vulnerability and interdependence, and will ask why it is so hated; and repent.” I admit to being wrong in saying “now”. The time was not ready. Things had to get worse before the dawning of whatever is to come.
Reality itself is being questioned across the world and the Internet is the voice of questions. I see a great blindness, I mean people’s eyes are closed and they see only a supposed reality, and not an experienced reality. Swimming in the soup of communal ideas, we cannot distinguish truth from lies, fact from illusion.
I was wrong in saying “America” too. It’s an abstraction. I’ve not been to that land for fifteen years, but I foolishly imagine it through movies and news and talking to fellow-bloggers.
At my daughter’s house in Gloucester last night we lit a coal fire and it took me back to childhood in the Fifties, where this was our only heating. It was hard to light: fanning the flames billowed sulphurous smoke into the room. The fire was a nostalgic and impractical gesture: we still kept a central heating radiator on. I renounce nostalgia! Now is the only time to be.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
In the “supposed reality”, these are the words of a “genius” William Blake giving school-teachers an excuse to idolize dead poets and consider ourselves lesser mortals separated from the classic authors by a great gulf; thus missing Blake’s point entirely. His words are an impassioned invitation to see for ourselves. He quotes the Book of Numbers, XI, 29:
Would to God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
Amen to that. As I walked back, the incense of woodsmoke wafted from behind some hedge, in the gathering gloom.
Pic (click to enlarge): West Wycombe from last year’s sunflower field this evening, showing the Dashwood Mausoleum and the Church of St Laurence topped by the Golden Ball. Just above the horizon, you see the outline of a red kite, a species of hawk now prolific in these parts after near-extinction.
Posted by Vincent at 9:18 pm