From Duncliffe Wood
1 We lie now in absolute stillness: I see this hollow of the wood, These trees, as if they were Joined with us – we with them – Enclosing our embrace in a shining Mesh of branches. We do not move. We have sunk identity it seems Into the quiet of place and moment: Hidden… The post From Duncliffe Wood appeared first on VoegelinView.

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1
We lie now in absolute stillness:
I see this hollow of the wood,
These trees, as if they were
Joined with us – we with them –
Enclosing our embrace in a shining
Mesh of branches. We do not move.
We have sunk identity it seems
Into the quiet of place and moment:
Hidden in the earth’s protection,
We only breathe. We are held
Beneath imagination where we lie,
In moss, with moss around us,
Like the soft, vacant husks
Of the still, fallen trees. Still, seeing,
I watch, and a trick of the light
Spreads a thickening netting
Of shadow across us
And over the ground.

2

Now I see ourselves caught
In this moving pattern, held
Like the pair held once
For the gods’ amusement:
And they were gods themselves,
Figures beyond and involved in nature –
Made with the patterns of the earth,
As from the heavens of the air –
And caught in an embrace
Like ours, in netting forged,
And flung on them,
By jealous, practical Vulcan.
An old story. It will have brought
The doings of gods to what’s common
In amusement or derision, and been
Too a prod towards embarrassment,
Thus to the becoming human,
Which we must soon become again.
So the mind moves, as it moves
Always. The mind plays like a radio,
Even here, diminishing silence
In its unruly insistence,
Carried everywhere.
There’s no escape from mind,
For mind moves with us,
Moves us, throws its nets,
Catches us, and holds us up,
For its own scorn or entertainment.
And here it is mind that moves –
Nothing else – a few birds,
Scratching after insects in the litter:
Theirs a movement that is mind
Itself, the same mind
That builds these trees.
And the things that come to mind
Only remind us of this: that we
Are caught in our conceptions,
As if these light shadows – straying
Across trunks, the earth, our limbs –
Could be netting tied in bronze,
And had us in their hold.
As if they had us in their hold?
What are any of the gods, their doings,
To you or me? We look up
At a ceiling of leafless branches,
We lie on an earthen floor.
3
Once there was another time, and
This would be contentment: to be
Here in the woods, passion
Answered, body lulled. Just to be:
This was sufficient before there was
Any such thinking, when some other
Working was the whole of creation.
But time takes what was an end
And turns it into cause. We grow
In awareness, feeling, and have time
Turn these to mind: and
In time, in turn, by an ascent
That compels us, we think
We live for best in the life of the mind,
And mind makes us its own.
Maybe you dream by me too.
We’re merely used by mind,
As I let it use me now, in its
Transforming of this wood,
Ourselves, as it prefers or plays at:
And with this recognition, comes
A choice whether from this or any event,
The mind creates anything as glad,
Anything to better what we had,
And this too is up to mind.
4
But here, for this moment,
We have a place that makes
All this rest seem foolish: a grasping
At the vapours of idea, guessing
After nothingness, and surely
We are such now – nothings
But for thinking – clasped
To each other and, in loss of self,
In fulfillment, beings involved
In something like serenity, in this stillness,
The silence of the supple moss:
Our place of loving in these woods,
One of unity, abandonment –
Or one prior to the possibility
Of abandonment – a wholeness
Beneath all our thinking, beyond
Old stories, gods, ourselves.
Still, we must move, despite love
And ancient tales, and move
Before it’s dark. The pity is,
These hidden places, where the light
Sprays mix and conceal us – where
The tiny curls of frond and
Hair twist and cling –
Are not for us to stay.
5
So we shift, and release comes on us
As some loosening in the ground,
A change in the light, the air,
Sinking the slim trunks and twigs
In a subtle collapse of colour,
Each to each. We rise, changed
From the simplicity we had,
Into a life that splays and twines
And reaches outward, branching
Upwards, closing in on the overhead,
No longer stationary, new and strange.
We are freed into the hillside, into
A tangle and diversity that runs
Each way we look – near fencing us around,
Now showing ways of entry and
Departure – and here and now, standing,
We exchange containment for extension:
We are at that point where
These things are the same.
6
And this is the moment too
That dusk descends, in a veil
Beneath the trees, in a filtering
That comes like smoke
From someone burning leaves:
A just perceptible drifting,
Obscuring differences
In a shifting screen.
With these things I’m occupied:
I seek a meaning in the joining
Of tree and tree, the mind
That makes, and that which
Sees, these trees now,
Sinking into evening, fading
With ourselves. And in this,
I seek freedom from the empty
Looking at what is, and what is
Repetition of others’ seeing.
7
But from here, it is time for us to move –
No net from which to struggle free,
To shrug away – we dress,
Knowing we will be clear
Of all these thickets: the hill is
Riddled with tracks and clearings,
And every step is down, to where
We were full forms, particular, individual,
Freely moving, fixed in daylight.
In our purpose of emergence, approach
To the open, in the freedom of separation,
Independence, the half-light
Hardly matters: there is enough
To show the no great distance
There is to go. We walk
Through stands of oak,
Beech, and elder, saplings,
Full grown, others rotting,
Woods trodden in and known:
But here there are furrows, holes,
Made in mud, we must negotiate.
Are they from feet or rain?
8
What’s certain is others took this route
Before us, and we follow in their hollows,
Cavities – but I see, I understand, them now –
The prints of horses – of a hunt?
No. But call it a hunt, the name will do –
The explanation’s good enough –
Whatever it was has been and gone –
History now – only the marks remain
Of some that slid this descent
In numbers and recently,
And left us this morass.
All the way now, a chaos of open pots –
Artefacts of others’ pastimes,
Doings, pleasures – show the trail
And trap our stepping, each one
Filled with muddy rain. Another day,
Though, and we not here, they
Will be empty – the clay dry, cracked,
Subsided – all sign of the hunt,
Whatever it was, any imprint
Of our loving, all will have disappeared:
Nothing – no choice, occupation,
Nothing done, nothing carefully made
Or told – no self, no loss of self,
Is other than a moment of seeming,
Nor is ours to keep – this thought too
Will evanesce – understanding is lent us
Only as it matters to our pursuits,
And when we need, we look for it again.
9
But now we see the sun, as if we
Saw it whole, in that half dull, half
Brilliant ball, dropping as we stare.
It goes as briefly as it shows, declining
From horizon to horizon –
From the mounting cloud ceiling
Into the rising dark – and all that gap,
Of the sun’s width only, is red,
Or they, perhaps, would call it pink,
Who cause us all our pains
As we negotiate this earth.
Pink. The word’s like hearing
Someone say, ‘Reynard likes the chase’:
And that could be said, I guess,
In humorous earnest once. Yet true –
To those that hunted well –
Their hunts would be beautiful,
But we forget the things we meant:
We see feebly where we are,
And always we follow on
What went before. We can no more
Be free of preceding minds than
Reinvent the world.
But we say, damn them, anyway,
Who rode this way – though it were
The only way they might – and
Though in this disappearing light,
We need all their marks to go on.
10
Ahead we see the gate: its construction
Black, rigid, between the barriers of hedge,
An image of finality. For us – carried
Toward it, approaching in the prints,
The minds, of riders – it looks a fence
Too high to jump, too sudden
Come upon, that we have not
Balanced for, nor ridden right to take:
Nothing is correct – we didn’t know
It leant like that – we’ll be
Forced to take it wrong.
There are too many coming up
Behind: we’re being carried into it
By fools – you know the sort
I mean, who ride once in a while,
And think they can – who, when
They have a mount, suppose
They know all there is
Of horsemanship – behaving
As though they were born to it,
And the field was their own.
Enough of this, but there is no end
To imagining: the irrational, rational,
Meet each other in the world
As in the mind, are absorbed in each other,
Are as lovers in the wood, walk and
Ride with us in our separation
And togetherness, prompt and inform
Our talking, in earnest and in play,
Enfolding us in our mutuality – in the dying
Of the light, here and now, where eyes,
Minds, enter each their dark – where
There is a latch of wire to lift, and
And the gate swings open
Over no shadow, but into night.

We are in a moment, place, where
There is no longer definition to you,
To me: we divide imperfectly
Between what is and what we
Would, what is and might have
Been. Behind us, I pull down
The cold, bent, loop – force it
Over the post – my fingers
Strange to the simple task.

11
Ahead – all but invisible – the thin,
Dark lines of hedges spread and
Join in a fishing net of fields:
They lie in watery blackness,
Broken at the surface here and
There by the deep canopies of trees.
Before us too, a pot-holed lane
Shows in dull brevity and
Runs into vagueness. What is
Is uncertain – what was, is now,
Is here with us – and all behind:
It is where and how the sense
Of newness comes – neither end nor
Beginning, departure nor arrival,
Nor continuity nor originated.
It is a point of choice: exposure
To the indistinct in seeing.

And you and I, together in otherness,
Have no longer the company of gods
Or riders, but are set in forms
We do not recognise: shadows
In motion, enveloped in our dark –
Indistinct, yet shaped, of bulk,
Dimension – where sight and light
Are lost in hesitance, and we strain
To interpret, without imagining,
Features, expressions, glances,
Where we are, what it is we see.

12
From here, every path, direction,
Is both open to, and closed on, us:
All appearances hidden. What should be
Ahead – in supposition, knowledge,
Experience – is as blank as that
We leave behind, and we have
No longer place nor moment, but are
Parts of the shared invisible, our present,
In which, in our unsteady forms,
We rely, step by step, and stumbling,
On each other, all mysterious
Ahead, behind, above, beneath
Our feet. Our side of the world
Is turned away from the sun: hours
That were full daylight come in none.
Where shall we be, what shall we
Become in our own daylight, when
The turning turns to us again?
Dorset

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