Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Distant Lights

In the bleakness of early January, the mellow fruitfulness of autumn and the rising sap of spring seem equally distant from this trough of the year. It is dusk and, from my garden, I can still make out the church spire at Dallington on the far ridge. Distant lights of homes have started to twinkle in the valley and on the horizon. These moments fill me with both sorrow and joy: sorrow at the space between us, joy that there are others out there. I set out for a short walk to fill the lungs and shake off the month.

With John Clare's poetry in my head, my solitude feels like the return of teenage Neurotic Boy Outsider paranoia: 'what I am none cares or knows...I am the self-consumer of my woes’; and, with the frozen land in the grip of the cold, dead hand of Cameronomics, 'there is neither sense of life nor joys’; my self-pity would make Morrissey proud. High above, the tail-lights of Gatwick-bound planes wink through the gathering darkness; and Clare’s ‘vaulted sky’ is a glittering panoply of stars to lift the spirits. With not a soul close by, I am as one of anarchist artist Clifford Harper’s ink drawings – a solitary figure in the landscape. For a supposedly crowded island, this distance makes it feel little like it at this time of year - and day - in the Sussex Weald.

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