The high self is sufficient – does it have to be high-er? There’s enough in summer to steal your thoughts away. The summer is profound by itself. Nature is enlightened. I imagined that by reaching the end of the month – or the last line of the poem – in magical contemplation that I could enter a world of inner illumination. But instead it is the outer world that is illumined. I give myself up to the outer world, to its deep fulfilment. Metaphorically my last line is the inside of a fairy rath or mound. High kings sleep their twenty-year sleep within. High but not high-er. The poem ends in rhyme.
Then along an old country lane I hear distant cathedral bells ringing. I listen. The midday Angelus changes into the sound of shovels heaping earth, of lowing cattle and, I imagine, of thoughtful leaves spreading. Dead-nettle, buttercup and starwort line the lane – fresh weeds, a widow’s dress worn with no sorrow. There will be no wake for the old month.
A moon in half-holiness melts into the daytime sky. Who would believe this noble body grew solid before the earth had formed? In the heart of the singing mountains this moon shimmers – a most unearthly radiance. My blessing is never to stop or sigh – I have no half-moon beyond this last line.
There’s couch-grass, stinging nettle, dead-nettle
and trees with fourteen different shades of green,
with gorse wind to sweep the sun from your face –
near and far, footfall and travelling gaze.
The month descends with sprinklings of sound:
mid-day bells; an angelus of shovels,
lowing cattle, thoughtful leaves – the month falls.
Where I’ve been and where I’m going to – slow steps,
with lives behind and lives before: green lives
radiating out between wind-caught chimes.
My light will carry to the end of lines –
for this I’ve prayed, that poems might not end.
The month – a blessing of moons – is smiling;
my path thickens with starwort, buttercup,
dead-nettle: weeds for the lane, widow’s dress
worn without sorrow. The way leads onwards.
The moon in half-holiness, melts in blue –
you might not think such a noble body
grew solid before the earth learned form:
this moon is just a proverb of the sky.
But I am walking through mountains of light,
hills which sing with the moon inside their folds;
my blessing is never to stop or sigh –
I have no half-moon beyond this last line.
So quiet this corner, easy to think
of the tall grasses with their dream-lit hair
a man could run his hands through or his thoughts;
or the lichen curling round loosened stones
in a country wall – purple and pink stars
peeping up, five-petalled intimacy;
or a mist of drizzle as faint as gauze,
dampening the mind briefly, just briefly,
then lifting like the breath of pigeon’s wings.
Easy to think and to vanish with thought
into raths and mounds and bright fairy-rings
and sleep the twenty-year sleep of high kings.
Best wishes, today,
Picture: The Angelus, by Jean-François Millet
©Jay Landar 2013. All rights reserved
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