Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Thrush In Spring: "It Strikes Like Lightnings To Hear Him Sing"

If one goes in search of a poem about a thrush in Spring, it is not likely that one will turn first to the poetry of Philip Larkin.  Edward Thomas, John Clare, or Andrew Young, yes, but not Larkin.  But beware:  as I have noted before, we mustn't be taken in by the popular caricature of Larkin (a caricature he helped to create as a trap for lazy journalists and critics).

Here, then, is Philip Larkin's thrush in near-Spring.  Of course, that other Larkin (the one we know and love) makes an appearance as well.


On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon --
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

Philip Larkin, The Less Deceived (1955).

This poem encapsulates the genius of Larkin:  beauty and human truth side-by-side.  First, a lovely lyrical passage (which sounds vaguely like something a poet of the Nineties (e.g., Arthur Symons or Ernest Dowson) might have written).  Next, a beautiful turning point:  "It will be spring soon,/It will be bring soon."  A "nature poet" would stop there.  But not Larkin, because what makes him unique is his interest in human beings, and how they make their way through the world.  This statement goes against the commonly-accepted caricature of Larkin, I know.  But it is true.

I suspect that most of us have come upon the type of scene described by Larkin in the second half of the poem.  We know exactly how that experience feels, even if we cannot put it into words.  Larkin's poetry is full of shared human experiences that we often find difficult to put into words.

But here is where Larkin's genius lies:  he takes this shared human feeling and links it to the feeling of hearing the first thrush of Spring.  In the yellow light of evening.  In a still-bare garden.  From that link, the poem folds inward and unfolds outward, and the two scenes -- and the emotions associated with each -- play off each other endlessly.  This movement occurs time and time again in Larkin's poetry.

James McIntosh Patrick, "A City Garden" (1940)

Now, seemingly a world away from Larkin (but not really), here is Gerard Manley Hopkins.


Nothing is so beautiful as Spring --
     When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
     Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
     The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
     The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
     A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. -- Have, get, before it cloy,

     Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
     Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in W. H. Gardner and N. H. MacKenzie (editors), The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford University Press, Fourth Edition, 1967).

It has been suggested that Ivor Gurney was influenced by Hopkins's poetry. On the evidence of this sonnet, I would agree:  the onrush of words and images and the slightly odd syntax are very similar in both poets.  For just one example, compare "Spring" with Gurney's "The Cloud."

James McIntosh Patrick, "Springtime in Eskdale" (1935)

"Thrush's eggs look little low heavens" is beautiful.  Andrew Young makes a strikingly similar comparison in a lovely poem which has appeared here previously.

                       The Nest

Four blue stones in this thrush's nest
I leave, content to make the best
Of turquoise, lapis lazuli
Or for that matter of the whole blue sky.

Andrew Young, Collected Poems (Rupert Hart-Davis 1960).

James McIntosh Patrick, "Glamis Village" (1939)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Perspective, Part Fourteen: Artful Dodges

It is impossible for us to be objective about ourselves.  How could it be otherwise?  We have been pent up in our cocoon of body, mind, and soul since we first emerged, bawling, into the world.  The most that we can hope for is a smidgen of self-awareness.  If we are attentive, and try our hardest, this smidgen of self-awareness may be accompanied by humility about ourselves and kindness towards others.

Joseph Conrad, that wise man, offers us this:

"If one looks at life in its true aspect then everything loses much of its unpleasant importance and the atmosphere becomes cleared of what are only unimportant mists that drift past in imposing shapes.  When once the truth is grasped that one's own personality is only a ridiculous and aimless masquerade of something hopelessly unknown the attainment of serenity is not very far off."

Joseph Conrad, Letter to Edward Garnett (March 23, 1896), in Edward Garnett, Letters from Joseph Conrad, 1895-1924 (1928), page 46.

And this:

"No man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge."

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900), page 84.

Yes, recognition of our own follies and self-deceptions is a necessary precursor to any serenity we may be able to arrive at in life.  And it is wonderful that Conrad speaks of attaining "serenity," not "happiness."

Robin Tanner, "The Gamekeeper's Cottage" (1928)

The above thoughts were prompted by coming across the following poem:


Engrossed in the day's 'news', I read
Of all in man that's vile and base;
Horrors confounding heart and head --
Massacre, murder, filth, disgrace:
Then paused.  And thought did inward tend --
On my own past, and self, to dwell.

Whereat some inmate muttered, 'Friend,
If you and I plain truth must tell,
Everything human we comprehend,
     Only too well, too well!'

Walter de la Mare, Inward Companion: Poems (1950).

Each and every day we encounter the "incomprehensible" via the media and incorrectly conclude, as the saying goes, "Now I've seen it all!"  No, we have not seen it all, and we never will see it all, given the by turns lovely and nasty inventiveness of human beings.

De la Mare's neat trick is the movement from "incomprehensible" in the title to "comprehend" in line 9:  from "beyond the reach of intellect or research; unfathomable" (OED) (i.e., the daily horrors of the news)  to "to take in, comprise, include, contain" (OED) (i.e., us).  And, once the movement is made, one is in turn compelled to revisit "incomprehensible," which now turns out to refer not just to the contents of the daily news, but to each of us individually -- body, mind, and soul.

Robin Tanner, "Wiltshire Woodman" (1929)

All of this merits a return to the lovely three-sentence prose statement by Czeslaw Milosz.


To believe you are magnificent.  And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent.  Enough labor for one human life.

Czeslaw Milosz (translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Hass), Road-side Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1998), page 60.

Robin Tanner, "Martin's Hovel" (1927)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Perspective, Part Thirteen: No Choice In The Matter

Something obvious:  in the aftermath of the sad and painful events that life inevitably brings our way, one may gain some perspective on what really matters during our time above ground.  Which is not to say, mind you, that the gaining of perspective outweighs, or completely compensates for, the pain and sadness.  No, I'm not willing to go that far.  I need to think that one over for a while (and live longer) before I accept that proposition.

I'm reminded of the final five lines of Randall Jarrell's "90 North" (which appeared here in full a few years ago):

I see at last that all the knowledge

I wrung from the darkness -- that the darkness flung me --
Is worthless as ignorance:  nothing comes from nothing,
The darkness from the darkness.  Pain comes from the darkness
And we call it wisdom.  It is pain.

Randall Jarrell, Blood for a Stranger (1942).

My view is not as bleak as Jarrell's:  I'm simply offering his view for what it is worth.  I'd say that, while I don't wish to engage in wishful thinking, I'm willing to learn while I'm here, with sadness and pain as part of the package.  Not that I have any choice in the matter, of course.

John Brett, "Southern Coast of Guernsey" (1875)

This much I do know:  one mustn't be seduced by the many Siren songs of false security the winds waft to us.


Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
          'Why do you let me lie here wastefully?
I am all you never had of goods and sex.
          You could get them still by writing a few cheques.'

So I look at others, what they do with theirs:
          They certainly don't keep it upstairs.
By now they've a second house and car and wife:
          Clearly money has something to do with life

-- In fact, they've a lot in common, if you enquire:
          You can't put off being young until you retire,
And however you bank your screw, the money you save
          Won't in the end buy you more than a shave.

I listen to money singing.  It's like looking down
          From long french windows at a provincial town,
The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad
          In the evening sun.  It is intensely sad.

Philip Larkin, High Windows (Faber and Faber 1974).

The final four lines are, I think, among Larkin's finest:  that inimitable plain-spoken and elegant combination of matter-of-fact honesty and sheer beauty that he often achieves as a poem comes to an end.  Of course, I say this as one who loves Larkin's poetry.  Others may find that the lines exemplify exactly what they don't like about him.  Perhaps one test of whether Larkin is your cup of tea is how you react to:  "It is intensely sad."

John Brett, "Forest Cove, Cardigan Bay" (1883)

Yes, better pain and sadness -- for they are direct evidence of love and affection -- than false security.

                 Remembering Golden Bells

Ruined and ill -- a man of two score;
Pretty and guileless -- a girl of three.
Not a boy -- but still better than nothing:
To soothe one's feeling -- from time to time a kiss!
There came a day -- they suddenly took her from me;
Her soul's shadow wandered I know not where.
And when I remember how just at the time she died
She lisped strange sounds, beginning to learn to talk,
Then I know that the ties of flesh and blood
Only bind us to a load of grief and sorrow.
At last, by thinking of the time before she was born,
By thought and reason I drove the pain away.
Since my heart forgot her, many days have passed
And three times winter has changed to spring.
This morning, for a little, the old grief came back,
Because, in the road, I met her foster-nurse.

Po Chu-i (772-846) (translated by Arthur Waley), in Arthur Waley, Chinese Poems (1946).

Do not be taken in by Po Chu-i's affectation of a gruff manner in a few places in the poem:  he is never one to wear his heart on his sleeve, and he is always wary of sentiment.  For instance, I think we know that this is whistling in the dark:  "By thought and reason I drove the pain away."  As is this:  "my heart forgot her."  Hardly.

John Brett, "The Norman Archipelago (Channel Islands)" (1885)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"O Visitor, Fugitive Creature, Thing Of A Tide, Make Music, My Heart, Before The Long Silence"

When it comes to philosophical inquiry as a means of "explaining" the World (as opposed to philosophical inquiry as a means of learning how to live from day-to-day) I believe that Walter Pater's assessment of attempts to define "beauty" in the abstract applies to philosophy as a whole: "metaphysical questions, as unprofitable as metaphysical questions elsewhere."  Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (1888 edition), page x.

This is why, when it comes to philosophers, I am fond of Ludwig Wittgenstein.  Although his arcane explorations into the nature of language are way over my head, his approach to philosophy is refreshingly practical:  "A philosophical problem always has the form:  'I simply don't know my way about'."  Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Big Typescript: TS 213 (translated by C. Grant Luckhardt and Maximilian A. E. Aue) (Blackwell 2005), page 310.

And, surprisingly (given his sometimes dour and prickly personality), there is this:  "Live happily!"  Ludwig Wittgenstein, Notebooks, 1914-1916 (translated by G. E. M. Anscombe) (1961), pages 75 and 78.

Charles Ginner, "Novar Cottage, Bearley, Warwickshire" (1933)

                         Garramor Bay

Now the long wave unfolded falls from the West,
The sandbirds run upon twittering, twinkling feet:
Life is perilous, poised on the lip of a wave,
And the weed that lay yesterday here is clean gone.

O visitor, fugitive creature, thing of a tide,
Make music, my heart, before the long silence.

L. A. G. Strong, Northern Light (1930).

Charles Ginner, "The Rib, Standon" (1939)

How does one live happily?  Perhaps by escaping Time.

"A man who is happy must have no fear.  Not even in face of death.

Only a man who lives not in time but in the present is happy.
. . . . . . . . . .
If by eternity is understood not infinite temporal duration but non-temporality, then it can be said that a man lives eternally if he lives in the present.
. . . . . . . . . .
Whoever lives in the present lives without fear and hope.
. . . . . . . . . .
It seems one can't say anything more than:  Live happily!"

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Notebooks, 1914-1916, pages 74-75, 76, 78.

In aphoristic statements such as these (which pop up suddenly throughout his work), Wittgenstein sounds like the Taoist and Buddhist sages who made essentially the same observations one or two millennia ago.  The essential truths have always been present.  Finding them -- and living them -- is another matter entirely.  The work of a lifetime, never finished.  One step forward and two steps back.

Charles Ginner, "The Old Paper Mill" (c. 1941)

                         The Instant

Where are the centuries, where is the dream
of sword-strife that the Tartars entertained,
where are the massive ramparts that they flattened?
Where is the wood of the Cross, the Tree of Adam?

The present is singular.  It is memory
that sets up time.  Both succession and error
come with the routine of the clock.  A year
is no less vanity than is history.

Between dawn and nightfall is an abyss
of agonies, felicities, and cares.
The face that looks back from the wasted mirrors,
the mirrors of night, is not the same face.
The fleeting day is frail and is eternal:
expect no other Heaven, no other Hell.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alastair Reid), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999).

Charles Ginner, "Church Farm, Shipley" (c. 1933)

Monday, March 17, 2014

"A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal"

In my previous post, I suggested that, although poetry should not set out to edify, it does provide us with inklings of what it means to be a human being in a transitory world.  For instance (and speaking solely for myself), poetry may provide (in conjunction with the hard facts of reality) a needed slap in the face that awakens one from a sleepwalk that has been going on for weeks, months, years -- nay, decades.

I do not believe that art is life or that life is art.  But they do at times suddenly intersect.  The following poem is one of my favorite poems.  Apart from loving it for its beauty, I had blithely and arrogantly convinced myself that I had taken its lesson to heart.  As it turns out, I knew nothing, absolutely nothing.  And now I have lived it.

A slumber did my spirit seal;
     I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
     The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
     She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
     With rocks, and stones, and trees.

William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads, with Other Poems (1800).

Duncan Grant, "Window, South of France" (1928)

The third line of the final stanza of Walter de la Mare's "Fare Well" seems to be a direct echo of the first line of Wordsworth's poem.

Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour.  Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
        Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
        In other days.

Walter de la Mare, Motley and Other Poems (1918).

Paying attention -- paying loving attention -- is a duty we owe to the sad and beautiful world and to those making their way through the world with us.  A simple thing, one would think.  One would think.  But, as we all know, simple things are often easier said than done.

Duncan Grant, "Girl at the Piano" (1940)

Ezra Pound seems a world away from William Wordsworth and Walter de la Mare, but he had his moments.  He wrote the following untitled poem in his younger years, before he embarked on the mad project of The Cantos.

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
                       Not shaking the grass.

Ezra Pound, Personae (1926).

Duncan Grant, "The Doorway" (1929)

Friday, March 14, 2014

"We Meet Only To Part"

I have written here before that the purpose of poetry is not to edify.  Perhaps a better way to put it is that anyone who sets out to write a poem in order to edify us is doomed to failure.  Still, I should also be very clear about this:  a good poem can -- perhaps better than any other form of art (I am biased, I admit) -- help us to understand what it means to be a human being in a wondrous and mysterious world.

Poetry provides inklings, not answers.  Poetry is not religion or science or metaphysics or politics (for which we can all be thankful).

The world through which we walk is beautiful and heartbreaking.  From stepping stone to stepping stone is the only way to traverse the ground.

               . . . . . we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

From Philip Larkin, "The Mower."

John Aldridge, "The River Pant Near Sculpin's Bridge" (1961)

We meet only to part,
Coming and going like white clouds,
Leaving traces so faint
Hardly a soul notices.

Ryokan (1758-1831) (translated by John Stevens), in Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan (Shambhala 1996).

Walter Goodin, "The River Beverley" (1938)


This wind that howls about our roof tonight
And tears live branches screaming from great trees
Tomorrow may have scarcely strength to ruffle
The rabbit's back to silver in the sun.

Patrick MacDonogh Poems (edited by Derek Mahon) (The Gallery Press 2001).

Alfred Parsons (1847-1920), "Poplars in the Thames Valley"

Why should little things be blamed?
Little things for grace are famed;
Love, the winged and the wild,
Love is but a little child.

Anonymous (translated by Thomas Rogers), in Henry Wellesley (editor), Anthologia Polyglotta: A Selection of Versions in Various Languages, Chiefly from the Greek Anthology (1849).

George Vicat Cole, "Iffley Mill" (1884)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Those Modest Gods Touch Us -- Touch Us And Move On"

I will never be able to repay the kindness and comfort that have been provided to me by so many of you since my previous post.  I have never intended to make this blog about myself, but, because I feel a kinship with those who visit here, I wouldn't have felt right leaving things unsaid.  I am deeply moved by the response I have received, and I can never thank you enough.

Stephen McKenna, "Foliage" (1983)

Here is a poem I sought out over the past few days.


When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million Shinto deities
travel secretly throughout the earth.
Those modest gods touch us --
touch us and move on.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Hoyt Rogers), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999).

Cecil Gordon Lawson, "Cheyne Walk, Chelsea" (1870)

". . . we are saved/by humble windfalls/of mindfulness or memory."

     My beloved friend
You and I had a sweet talk,
Long ago, one autumn night.
     Renewing itself,
The year has rumbled along,
That night still in memory.

Ryokan (1758-1831) (translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa), in The Zen Poems of Ryokan (Princeton University Press 1981).

Harald Sohlberg, "Flower Meadow in the North" (1905)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Parta Quies

Someone I care for deeply has suddenly passed away, at far too young an age.  I haven't the heart today for anything but this poem, which is all I can grasp onto at the moment for some small, passing comfort.  I will return when I am able.

            Parta Quies

Good-night; ensured release,
Imperishable peace,
     Have these for yours,
While sea abides, and land,
And earth's foundations stand,
     And heaven endures.

When earth's foundations flee,
Nor sky nor land nor sea
     At all is found,
Content you, let them burn:
It is not your concern;
     Sleep on, sleep sound.

A. E. Housman, More Poems (1936).

Eliot Hodgkin, "Feathers and Hyacinth Heads" (1962)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"The Silent Friendship Of The Moon"

Today, I was tempted to go off on a tangent about the Crimean War.  You know:  the one that ended in 1856.  I might have found a way to work in Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  But a sudden weariness came over me.  Thus, let us instead consider the moon, which remains pretty much the same after 158 years:  still presiding over we humans, who remain pretty much the same after 158 years, with only a superficial outward change in appearances and appliances.

Which is no cause for concern, by the way.  What I worry about are the people who believe we have changed since 1856.  The moon knows otherwise.

Harald Sohlberg, "Moonlight, Nevlunghavn" (1922)

                       The Moon

There is such loneliness in that gold.
The moon of the nights is not the moon
Whom the first Adam saw.  The long centuries
Of human vigil have filled her
With ancient lament.  Look at her.  She is your mirror.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Willis Barnstone), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999).

I suppose that the poem violates John Ruskin's strictures about the use of the pathetic fallacy in poetry (although I'm not certain he was consistent in his thinking on the matter).  Personally, as much as I admire Ruskin, I don't see the pathetic fallacy as such a bad thing.  If Borges perceives the moon as being filled with "ancient lament," I don't see why not.  It makes perfect sense to me.

Winifred Nicholson, "The Hunter's Moon" (1955)

I am also quite willing to accept the silent friendship of the moon, even if she is filled with ancient lament.

                       The Limit

The silent friendship of the moon
(I misquote Virgil) has kept you company
since that one night or evening
now lost in time, when your restless
eyes first made her out for always
in a patio or a garden since gone to dust.
For always?  I know that someday someone
will find a way of telling you this truth:
"You'll never see the moon aglow again.
You've now attained the limit set for you
by destiny.  No use opening every window
throughout the world.  Too late.  You'll never find her."
Our life is spent discovering and forgetting
that gentle habit of the night.
Take a good look.  It could be the last.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alan Trueblood), Ibid.

How nice to see Borges use the word "destiny."  A very unmodern word, wouldn't you say?  It suggests something beyond ourselves, and thus makes us nervous.  Destiny?  Fate?  Soul?  "The vale of Soul-making"?  Of what relevance are they when we have Science and Progress at our disposal?

Paul Nash, "The Pyramids in the Sea" (1912)

I think the following poem captures our affinity and reciprocity with the moon very well.  In his quiet way, over hundreds of poems, Walter de la Mare often surprises us with these small gems.


The far moon maketh lovers wise
     In her pale beauty trembling down,
Lending curved cheeks, dark lips, dark eyes,
     A strangeness not her own.
And, though they shut their lids to kiss,
     In starless darkness peace to win,
Even on that secret world from this
     Her twilight enters in.

Walter de la Mare, Motley and Other Poems (1918).

Frank Ormond (1897-1988), "Moonrise, Stanford Dingley"

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Nostalgia For The Present"

I suspect that all of us have had the experience articulated in the following poem.  I have.  As I write this, two or three instances come immediately to mind.

     Nostalgia for the Present

At that very instant:
Oh, what I would not give for the joy
of being at your side in Iceland
inside the great unmoving daytime
and of sharing this now
the way one shares music
or the taste of fruit.
At that very instant
the man was at her side in Iceland.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alan Trueblood), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999).

Some may say:  "Stop thinking so much!  Just live."  I am not unsympathetic to this view.  It is possible to slice things too thin, to overthink the riddle of Time and Existence.  On the other hand, Borges is simply reporting What Life Is Like.  In a beautiful fashion that most of us are not capable of.  Hence, poetry.

Dane Maw (1908-1989), "Woolverton and Peart Woods" (1970)

"Nostalgia for the present" is in the same territory as a feeling I have described here before:  an awareness, at the time something is happening, that you are experiencing something you will never forget.  The event being experienced need not be "life-changing" or "important" (e.g., a birth, a death, a calamity).  In fact, it is usually the case that this feeling comes out-of-the-blue on what seemed to be just another nondescript day.  And then you want everything to slow down, or freeze in place.  A vain hope, of course.

                         On the Road

Our roof was grapes and the broad hands of the vine
as we two drank in the vine-chinky shade
of harvest France;
and wherever the white road led we could not care,
it had brought us there
to the arbour built on the valley side where time,
if time any more existed, was that river
of so profound a current, it at once
both flowed and stayed.

We two.  And nothing in the whole world was lacking.
It is later one realizes.  I forget
the exact year or what we said.  But the place
for a lifetime glows with noon.  There are the rustic
table and the benches set; beyond the river
forests as soft as fallen clouds, and in
our wine and eyes I remember other noons.
It is a lot to say, nothing was lacking;
river, sun and leaves, and I am making
words to say 'grapes' and 'her skin'.

Bernard Spencer, With Luck Lasting (1963).

Dane Maw, "Scottish Landscape, Air Dubh"

                    While You Slept

You never knew what I saw while you slept.
We drove up a wide green stone-filled valley.
Around us were empty heather mountains.
A white river curved quickly beside us.
I thought to wake you when I saw the cairn --
A granite pillar of that country's past --
But I let you sleep without that history.
You did, however, travel through that place:
I can tell you that your eyes were at rest
As the momentous world moved beyond you,
And that you breathed in peace that quarter hour.
We seldom know what is irreplaceable.
You sang old songs for me then fell asleep.
I worried about what you were missing.
But you missed nothing.  And I was the one who slept.

sip (Glen Coe, Scotland, c. 1986).

"And nothing in the whole world was lacking.  It is later one realizes."

Dane Maw, "Langdale Falls, Westmorland"