Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ain't no stopping it now....

Right at this very moment there's a curlew up on the hill beyond us - making that whooping whirring cry that is the sound of this landscape in early spring. A weak sun has broken through the clouds and infused the milky haze that bathes Long Mountain with a pearly light. There's a bit of a thin wind to take the edge off things but lambs are lying in the sunshine nonetheless - just chillin'. Trees which days ago seemed dark and skeletal now have a dense aurora as leaf and flower bud swell. And birds; twittering and flitting everywhere. The creeping beast that is the season's irresistible life force is poised and ready to pounce.

I think for a while about the hills while driving home along the spine of Long Mountain (my very favourite journey in The Whole Wide World). Those hills to the east - Pontesbury and Pontesford, the Stiperstones, Corndon, Bromlow Callow and Stapely Common, the Long Mynd behind: how unusually blue they appeared a couple of days ago - I'm seeing Housman's 'blue remembered hills' - although strictly speaking they're a bit south of here.

Inevitably these lines from 'A Shropshire Lad' come to mind:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

And then, even as I whisper those words - eyes wide, mouth half open - I'm off on an 'away day'. A helter-skelter-brain-storm of poetry and prose; of half forgotten lines ('loveliestoftreesthecherrynow di da di di da etc') and music - Vaughan Williams and Elgar and the young George Butterworth (who set 'A Shropshire Lad' to music), The Song of Songs: 'For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away..... and Thomas Hardy and hymns and birdsong, daffodils, light and thunder - even gloomy old RS Thomas - all come crowding round. Such a glorious muddle. There are frogs and spawn - and buzzards soar hopefully and in anticipation over fields of new born lambs (et in arcadia ego) and mew into the large sky.

This is kaleidoscopic thinking and I'm having a lovely time - there are larks ascending:


Suddenly above the fields you’re pouring
Pure joy in a shower of bubbles,
Lacing the spring with the blue thread of summer.
You’re the warmth of the sun in a song.

You’re the light spun to a fine filament;
Sun on a spider-thread –
That delicate.

You’re the lift and balance the soul feels,
The terrible, tremulous, uncertain thrill of it –
You’re all the music the heart needs,
Full of its sudden fall, silent fields."

Katrina Porteous
From: The Lost Music, Bloodaxe Books, 1996

......I want to meet the green man. I want to find a flint arrowhead, press seeds into the warming soil, feel heat and light upon my wintered cheek - feel part of this new awakening season and stay connected with the old. These are exhilarating days. Spring's magic must be working - I'm sure it's not just some chemical imbalance in my brain.

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