|sent from: Mortimer Street, London, UK. destination: Angel’s Camp, California, USA|
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass, —
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
‘Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
‘Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky: —
So this wing’d hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.
– Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I don’t want this project to turn inspirational. Meaning, it seems that 85% of content on tumblr and similar sites are excuses for re-posting inspirational sayings or images intended to impart uplift, often designed and rendered in whimsical or vintage styles as a supposed substitute for trying to do something new or original, and I don’t want to add to the pile. Even when the thoughts are profound or insightful, the ‘ah-ha’ moment I experience is so fleeting, forgotten the moment I turn away from the computer and I go back to beating up my wife, or hitting the cat. (I don’t really, but you take my point).
Still, there are some things that are too good not to share. ‘Silent Noon’ is a poem that I only knew through it being set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and it took a while to emerge from the shadow of the gorgeous Linden Lea that it followed on the CD.
In the early 2000s I lived on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais near San Francisco, and I would go walking there as often as I could. In the clearing of some woods one day I saw several large, bright dragonflies, and I sang to myself – deep in the sun-searched growths the dragonfly hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky. It’s an impossible image to shake once it’s implanted in your head.
This weekend, as we worked on our flat making it more homely and our own, Silent Noon started playing. Your eyes smile peace, said the song, and it felled me, as surely as any blow. What a beautiful, unexpected, lyrical image, and I can perfectly picture Maria’s face in that phrase. I would listen to this song in the bright California sun, and imagine being back in the UK, dream of the kingcup fields and hawthorn hedges. And here we are.