Sonnet On A Summer’s Eve

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So steady the night on this soft summer’s eve,

As star seeds descend like manna from heaven,

The stillness of the scots pine fertilizes my ease,

And unmasks the demon by which my anxiety is driven,

Beneath all the chaos and dust of the world,

Is a light feather bed by tranquillity plumed,

The chaos is like two lovers wrestling on sheets,

The serenity is the mattress where their bliss is consumed,

And imbued with non-reference – the terminator of fear,

A tender consummation that nurses all wounds,

Cordelia is returned to the resanitized King Lear,

And on loving what’s lost, we no longer presume,

But cherish each beauty, the peace won by a friend,

Vowing to love them forever – faith without end

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Diary: Wind, Sleep, and Sorrowful Songs

over

The wind certainly does add a touch of drama to everything.

Just before it fully picked up, I observed a bumble bee on a dandelion. It looked like it was clinging on to the flower for dear life. I tried to imagine what the experience must be like from the bee’s perspective; the whole world a-whorl around you; your only haven a golden circumference the elements are ever conspiring to tear you from.

As I crossed a wooden bridge over a marsh, the wind really began to fulminate – not quite King Lear territory, yet – but a nearby Hamlet, perhaps? A legion of black clouds rolled in, in true Roman imperial fashion. Poplar trees were blown into bowing, willows cracking under the pressure like so many arthritic limbs, and the air was suddenly a chaotic mosaic of catkins, leaves, and dandelion seeds – a ballet caught in a tornado.

As I neared home, I moved through a large corridor of brambles that I pass through every day. I’ve been reflecting on how different they look throughout the procession of the seasons. At the moment, they are all re-leafing. There is sumptuous, magisterial quality to them, as though every leaf is a fanfare celebrating the very concept of greenness.

In Winter, they become nature’s equivalent of barbed wire. And if we should ever be so lucky as to experience some snowfall, then they look like giant, gelid spiders, trying to dislodge themselves from some awful frost that has consigned them to petrification as a punishment.

The previous night had not been so peaceful. I could not sleep. I felt sad, lonely, and restlessly in want of human contact –a sleepy embrace to compose a counterpoint to my being. Venus was glaring through the window at me, and I had the radio turned on low to give my maudlin mind something to occupy it.

After some avant-garde Jazz, and a light spell of semi-somulence, I awoke to find them playing Gorecki’s 3rd symphony – ‘A Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ which I had actually been thinking about listening to earlier that day. It seemed the perfect companion to my current state: slow, sombre, and sad, with occasional euphoric bursts of near-prophetic hopefulness.

My favourite moment occurs in the second movement, when, after a gloomy, lingering melody, the hopeful chords at the beginning of the movement return, and the soprano explodes with this call of grief and euphoria which seems to cry out: “WHERE ARE YOU?” Like a lone wanderer on a desolate, war-barren planet, who has just detected the first murmurings of possible love, but does not yet know how to trace them.

(The words are actually an invocation to The Virgin Mary, found on the cell of the Gestapo headquarters, and written by an eighteen year-old girl imprisoned there. But, that sense of crying out for love, for salvation, across long swathes of impossible space, still, unolibteratingly, remains).

When I finally did sleep, I dreamed I was in a strange, video game world, where I was roaming around the winding passageways of a monster-filled sewer. I felt no sense of danger, nor fear. Then I awoke to the sounds of a sparkling piano – thinking of friends I missed – and the birth-song of the wind.

Poem: A King Lear State of Mind

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Finding myself still beating against battlements

And ropes of bondage from which I thought I’d

Been freed, in a King Lear state of mind, I paced

The meadows besides The Wye, uttering

Imperatives and imprecations to the heavens,

Beseeching them that I might transmute the

Prison bars of rage into compassion, and from

The cauldron of rebirth, emerge re-liveried in

The soft vesture of gentleness’s garments

*

Once I reached the woods, and the arboreal

Conspiracy of aspen and beech could be heard,

The boiling waters of my madness began merely

To simmer, and the bare-branched advice of my

Sylvan counsellors soothed me into the fading

Consciousness of Celtic dispassion

*

“You are what you seek,” preached the first beech.

“And you can never be divided from what you hide;

And all that hides from you in protective fetters,

Will but dive nakedly into you later on.”

*

“I am that I am,” The River Wye put in,

“And there is no obstacle in the measureless

Flow of time that I cannot rend by sailing through.

You are your own daughter – you are the channel

Through which madness reworks itself to be wisdom

For later ages.

*

“But, for now – be mad. Let your gall grow uncorrupted

On the acornless branches of Oaks, so that in taking on the

Gall of your fellow men, you can cleanse them for the eventual

Softness of truth’s articulation.”

*

II.

Soothed and soothsaid, I wandered on.

No lightning struck me – nor was I pierced

With crippling winds – but slick coldness slithered

Around me in the clutching coils of hypothermia –

But I was willing to die in those woods if I was able

To deliver the help of which I was the messenger.

*

I saw all the people of this path,

From tourists abroad, to the old

Celt’s laugh, and the vision of a

White horse counselled me a purity

Of course: you must kill yourself to

Get where you’re going

 *

I thought I had heard enough –

I thought all was to ‘let go and

Give up,’ but sometimes lesser

Aims must be miscarried to make

Room for gentler ambitions

*

But let go of what? Give up what?

Let go this body, this mind, this brain,

This heart – let go this sky that pinions

Me with the sweetness of its gravitas –

Let go of dreams, too fragile to hold,

Yet so heavy, they conduct the creak

And crush of my ribs, and turn the

Muddiness of every night into the

Northern Lights?

*

All I will give up is the misery of ego

And clutching, and walking back through

The Symonds Yat Woods, the red kite

Carries me back to Monmouth

*