Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rilke's Roots.

In dreams things happen to you but this time I was in control

A mountain hostel somewhere in Eastern Europe, the weather calm and sunny. I'd climbed a little way up to a rise in the ground where I could see snowy peaks all round but the place wasn't suitable. Yellow earth moving machines were there and a notice saying, Keep Out. Returning I'd dug myself a grave not far from the door and was planning to be buried alive. Being somewhat wimpish I'd bought a couple of pills from the doctor to calm me down. They cost £1.50 and I dropped the rest of my unneeded change into a charity box.

There was no hurry. No one took any interest. My grave was homely with a candle holder on one wall, but the dry soil seemed sterile and all too neat and constructed.

I awake now, but the grave was waiting. There was no hurry. I'd been reading Rilke:

"But when I lean over the chasm of myself- it seems my God is dark and like a web: a hundred roots silently drinking.

Mien Gott ist dunkel und wie ein Gewebe von hundert Wurzeln, welche schweigsam trinken."

More I don't know, because my roots rest in deep silence, stirred only by the wind. They are in a dark ferment. They explore blindly, clinging to the rock. There is much to explore, lots of other roots, fungal hypha, wiggling nematodes and insect grubs. I am a neural network growing and sensing. Chemicals surge down from above. Some clinging roots have grown so large they see the sky.

"Whom should I turn to, if not the one whose darkness is darker than the night, the only one who keeps vigil with no candle, and is not afraid - the deep one, whose being I trust, for it breaks through the earth into trees, and rises, when I bow my head, faint as a fragrance from the soil."

I feel the wind. It is tearing me out of darkness to another dawn.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Sea Buckthorn

Sauté an' cruel winds tae shear it, [salt]
Nichts o' haar an' rain - [nights of cold mist]
Ye micht think the sallow buckthorn [might]
Ne'er a hairst could hain; [never a harvest could harbour]
But amang the sea-bleached branches [among]
Ashen-grey as pain,
Thornset orange berries cluster
Flamin', beauty-fain.

Daith an' dule will stab ye surely, [death and dolour / grief]
Be ye man or wife,
Mony trauchles an' mischances [many struggles / troubles]
In ilk weird are rife; [in everyone's fate]
Bide the storm ye canna hinder,[cannot]
Mindin' through the strife, [remembering]
Hoo the luntin' lowe o' beauty [how the blazing fire of beauty]
Lichts the grey o' life. [lights]

Helen Cruickshank

Copyright is held by A C Hunter, Ashgrove House, Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland EH20 9NG
http://herbology-101.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/weekend-rambles.html Photo at North Berwick golf club, Scotland.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Lucy, Fresco and Masaccio

Here is the first Lucy poem, written in 1798 when William Wordsworth and sister Dorothy were spending a miserable winter in Germany.

Strange fits of passion have I known: And I will dare to tell,
But in the Lover's ear alone,
What once to me befell.
When she I loved looked every day Fresh as a rose in June,

I to her cottage bent my way, Beneath an evening-moon.
Upon the moon I fixed my eye,
All over the wide lea;
With quickening pace my horse drew nigh Those paths so dear to me.

And now we reached the orchard-plot; And, as we climbed the hill,
The sinking moon to Lucy's cot
Came near, and nearer still.
In one of those sweet dreams I slept, Kind Nature's gentlest boon!

And all the while my eyes I kept
On the descending moon.
My horse moved on; hoof after hoof He raised, and never stopped:
When down behind the cottage roof, At once, the bright moon dropped.

What fond and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a Lover's head!
"O mercy!" to myself I cried,
"If Lucy should be dead!"

I remember such a cottage in Germany where 'Lucy' meant 'Light' and Rilke was my poet.

'Light' radiates from Masaccio's frescos in Florence. The texture of fresco can't be reproduced on a screen and if touched the chalky pigments would slowly rub away. Such is my vision, bright and verging on overexposed. I remember the frescoed feet, soft, larger than life. If we washed these feet they would vanish away but Lucy's delicate feet flex in the water, are warm to my soft soapy touch and walk away leaving memories on the stone floor.

The reproduction is of a fresco by Masaccio showing the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rilke Poem, God speaks to each of us as he makes us

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of you longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

from Rilke’s, ‘Book of Hours’ translated by A Barrows and J Macy.
and photo of Thich Quang Duc a buddhist monk.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rilke Poem, 'Du, gestern Knabe, dem die Wirrnis kam'


(To the younger brother)

You, yesterday’s boy,
to whom confusion came:
Listen, lest you forget who you are.

It was not pleasure you fell into. It was joy.
You were called to be the bridegroom,
though the bride coming toward you is your shame.

What chose you is the great desire.
Now all flesh bares itself to you.

On pious images pale cheeks
blush with a strange fire.
Your senses uncoil like snakes
Awakened by the beat of the tambourine.

Then suddenly you’re left all alone
with your body that can’t love you
and your will that can’t save you.

But now, like a whispering in dark streets,
rumors  of God run through your dark blood.

From Rilke’s, ‘Book of Hours’ translated by A Barrows and J Macy.

These poems are love poems to God but Italian Renaissance religious art had showed Rilke that, ‘the holy can be rooted in the body and in human relationship’. The poems were written in 1899 after a magical trip to Russia with his lover Lou Andreas-Salome, a beautiful 36 year old Russian woman.

Painting is by Klimpt, ‘Die Tanzerine’ 1916


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cain and Abel







Cain and Abel Genesis 4

New International Version (NIV)

 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.”
2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.
4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.
11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

I have always been more interested in working the soil than animal husbandry and felt, along with Cain, that G-d was unfair in not accepting his offering. Perhaps this biblical myth also refers to the rise of agriculture, the ability to store crops giving rise to early civilisations and making possible todays national and ideological wars (The Curse of Cain) 

I notice from the next part of Genesis that although Adam and Eve were in a sense the first man and woman in a generation or two there are whole tribes and cities.

I was led to this biblical story by one of Rilke's many brilliant poems.
(Abel speaks)

I am not. The brother did something to me
that  my eyes didn’t see.
He veiled the light.
He hid my face with his face.
Now he is alone.
I think he must still exist,
for no one does to him what he did to me.
All have gone the same way:
all are met with his rage,
beside him all are lost.

I sense my older brother lies awake
As if accused.
Night offers itself to me,
not to him.
Rilke’s Book of Hours translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.

Der blasse Abelknabe spricht:

Ich bin nicht. Der Bruder hat mir was getan,
was meine Augen nicht sahn.
Er hat mir das Licht verhängt.
Er hat mein Gesicht verdrängt
mit seinem Gesicht.
Er ist jetzt allein.
Ich denke, er muss noch sein.
Denn ihm tut niemand, wie er mir getan.
Es gingen alle meine Bahn,
kommen alle vor seinen Zorn,
gehen alle an ihm verloren.

Ich glaube, mein großer Bruder wacht
wie ein Gericht.
An mich hat die Nacht gedacht;
an ihn nicht.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 22.9.1899, Berlin-Schmargendorf

picture by James Tissot

Down by the Salley Gardens

Down by the Salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the Salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree.
But I being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by a river
 my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
 she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
 as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish
 and now am full of tears. 

by W.B.Yeats


Monday, August 12, 2013

A Day in the Cuillin Mountains on Skye and Airlift to Inverness. 9th Aug 2013

 The walk in from Sligachan to Glen Brittle, an easy attractive well worn path.

 First day of walk in to Sgurr Alisdair climb, an attractive waterfall on route.
 A well made path.
 Loch an Fhir-bhallaich with Isle of Rhum in background.
 The mist is rising. Rhum still visible.

 Looking up at the summit of Sgurr Alisdair 993m.
 The Great Stone Chute. Takes about an hour to get up as the rocks are unstable. Take care for broken ankles and falling rocks.
 Loch Coire Lagan at the bottom of the stone chute. Rhum still visible.
 At the top of Sgurr Alisdair I waited an hour for the mist to burn off. This was my first view looking south
 Matt, of Skye Adventures arriving from the south with two clients.

Looking back to Mat's group still on the summit of Sgurr Alisdair. 

This ridge in the middle distance was the next part of the ridge scramble. It looks and was dramatic but easy enough.

The route to the Innaccessible Pinnacle is partly hidden and that is where I fell about 5m while climbing down a vertical face. Why? I think because I'd had enough excitement for one day and rushed on the wrong way. I could see the easy path ahead to the In Pin and was in a rush to get there. I landed on my feet, blood spurting from my head and called, 'Help'. A group at the In Pin heard me and we could shout to each other. They called the mountain rescue. 5 minutes later I heard heavy breathing and Mat, the guide I'd met on Sgurr Alisdair arrived. He'd also heard my cry and must have almost run across. He'd also phoned mountain rescue and now administered first aid until the team led by Gerry Akroyd arrived. I was soon on a streacher so well wrapped I was stewing. A lady rescuer removed her top and fanned me, lovely. A new Sigorsky coastgard helicopter was also on the scene but had first to deal with an older man who was exhausted. Swinging through the air above the Cuillin was something I'll never forget. I was flown to Raigmore hospital in Inverness where I had excellent treatment for two broken fibula and a small fracture of my neck.. My plasters will be removed at the end of August.

The picture is of a previous Sea King helicopter rescue by the team. The route picture is from www.stevenfallon.co.uk