This evening I went a-walking while the sun was yet up.
I found myself surrounded by a quiet, awesome majesty;
endless ranks of trees of all description, and, covered over
with leaves from the recent Autumn, ridge after ridge of
austere hills. Such hills! As if I with my small arms could
reach out and feel the bulges and hollows, following the
sinuous trace of brook and stream.
Up here in these august, ancient hills, heights are steep,
and dells narrow, life at once fleeting and yet eternal.
There is such a sense of age in this wood!
Atop one of the many hills, I gaze around:
all that can be seen are deepening, darkening,
twilight-gray, dusky woods, the red-orange sun
having already fallen below the horizon.
For all I can perceive here, I might just as well
be the only person alive; but here and now almost
preternaturally alive, because of how acutely aware
I am of the almost deathlike stillness and silence
by which I'm surrounded--almost overwhelmed.
How thrilling it is to realize that the noisiest sounds
around are your own footsteps crunching impudently
through the fallen leaves!
I disturb a distant squirrel, and watch with an almost
childlike fascination and joy as he slips along a fallen tree
down into the darker, deeper stream-bed--the only other
living creature I have seen now for literally hours.
Through the closer trees (mainly oaks) which stand out vivid
and starkly light gray, I see the medium-gray of the distant ridge,
descending, as it nears the stream, to a deeper, smoke-like gray.
The yet unfallen light-tan leaves of the beech trees make a clear
contrast against the darker, enticing veil of dusk
in the narrow stream-valley.
How I know and feel the call of this place!--to start forth,
over hill and into vale, again and again, searching darker
shadows, deeper mysteries; to savour the clear, cold water
as it glides serenely over smooth black rocks and pebbles;
here and there an animal track, attesting to the vitality
of this water. What an awesome privilege to be here, alone!
Does it not seem that perception becomes sharper when alone
in a wilderness like this?
At home, safely quartered for the night, I dream a dream
of flying alone, unaided, through trees--at an alarming,
yet thrilling rate of speed. Under me passes hill after hill,
glen after glen. All is deep, dark dusk;
my journey, never-ending.
3rd January, 1986
The World of Cats
I watch my little cats as they
Pursue a flying bee and play,
And oft contented with each way
of theirs, commune I thus with them.
Yet sometimes they do quarrel and scold,
And wounded prides I laughing hold,
And soothing love; then think I bold:
Like God to us, am I to them.
25 January, 1995
Ite, Fabula Est ...
De profunis clamavi ad te, Domine;
Domine, exaude vocem meam. ...
At morning's Dawn with Joy I strayed,
And happily for hours we played--
We did not know, nor could we know,
The lengths to which Desire could go;
At midday's Noon I supp'd with Truth:
My love is but a beardless Youth;
O gentle Friend, 'twould folly be
To sport for very long with thee.
At evening's Hour I walked with Pain--
(That dreadful Fiend my heart did gain)
I sorrow'd thus, yea with the thought,
That Love by cruel Pain was bought;
At midnight's Knell with Death I slept,
Into those hideous arms I leapt
(That fearsome Demon long did seem
To cast his Shadow o'er my dream);
O stars above--O caring God!--
Have pity, please--Oh spare thy Rod!
I did not know, nor could I know
The depths to which Desire would go!
12 March 1988
Oh see the foam and flotsam as they race
Along the sides of mount'nous peaks of green
To heaven-ward, and into empty space;
Oh feel the blinding spray and blast so keen!
Oh hear the crash of waves and thund'rous rolls--
The tired, mournful shrieking of the air!
Almost a far-off cry of drowned souls
It seems--of captives of Poseidon's lair. ...
If ever you should see the white-capp'd surge
And hear the roaring wind, oh then beware!
Let not your ears pay heed unto that dirge,
Nor let your eyes dwell on the deep sea fair,
But fly--oh fly!--beyond the mountain wave,
The surging sea, and echoing coastal cave!
28 July 1988