Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Flaming August

The weather first thing this morning was more like November than August. It was raining heavily, the temperature was twelve Celsius and the cloud was heavy and low, so that driving to Tesco for our weekly shop meant driving through thick cloud like heavy fog.

On the lane the blackbirds were taking advantage of the deep puddles to have a bath.They look pathetic at the moment - they are in full moult and look so mangy and can hardly fly, so that having a good bath must feel very good for them.

At the bird table there were fifty odd chaffinches on the ground feeding and on the feeders tits, woodpeckers, greenfinches, but no goldfinches. The thistles left in the fields will now be in full seed and thistle seeds are their favourite food.

I have been reading a couple of books this week - one about the Metaphysical poet, John Donne and the other about Roger Deakin, the marvellously eccentric man who rebuilt Walnut Tree farm using reclaimed materials and who was a great fan of wild swimming, so that he filled the moat around his farm and swam in it every day.

Then quite by chance the two came together when I was reading 'River Diary' a diary of 2006 by Ronald Blythe. Roger and he were great friends and when Roger was dying (he died of a brain tumour) Blythe goes to see him, along with two other friends. Blythe reads him some John Clare poetry - The Nightingale's Nest (which I have featured on my blog before) and is sure that he can hear it although he is close to death. Then Deakin requests John Donne's Prayer.

I had not come across this poem before. I am not at all religious, on the contrary I have no faith at all, but I do find this prayer strangely moving and hope you do too.

Bring us O lord God, at our last awakening
into the house and gate of Heaven,
to enter into that gate
and dwell in that house, where there shall be
no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears or hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends or beginnings, but one equal eternity,
in the habitations of thy glory and dominion.

Donne was a strange man, deeply religious - he lived for years with his shroud on the wall behind him I understand - and my goodness me he wrote some wonderful poetry, both love poetry and religious poetry. There is a balance to this prayer which I find very beautiful. I hope you do too.

As I write, mid-afternoon, the August sun is shining and it is hot, although there is a strong Westerly blowing and every now and then clouds roll in and threaten rain.
What strange weather we are having - we could do with a bit of balance there too.


MorningAJ said...

He could be a bit depressing sometimes though, John Donne, but a marvellous user of words.

Art Durkee said...

Donne is a touchstone for mystics, like myself, who are not conventionally religious. I find deep resources in him every time I turn to him.

Deakin sounds fascinating. I've always found it interesting that Brits tolerate, even embrace, their eccentrics in ways that we Americans rarely do. I think the world is made better by having more eccentrics in it rather than less.

Heather said...

I have read two of Roger Deakin's books and loved them. They are now with my daughter who has his book on wild swimming so I can read that too in time. I also have Ronald Blythe's trilogy and one other waiting for my attention, so lots to look forward to and enjoy. The words of John Donne's prayer are beautiful and very comforting, whatever one's beliefs.
Our weather has also been odd today though not as extreme as yours - very fresh this morning, then rain and when the sun came out, hot. My husband mowed both lawns and finished just before the heavens opened. He usually makes it rain!

Loren said...

And I thought I knew all of John Donne's poems.

Either I never read or time has worn away what was once there and I need to re-read him.

Elizabeth said...

I did not know the marvelous Donne poem/prayer.
Thank you for discovering it for me.
Bucketing rain here --no chance to mow the lawn.
The family off at a lake.......poor things ----for their summer holidays.
Going through old books I discovered Thackery's Christmas Books (!) never read by me though I love Thackery
The Rubiat of Omar Khyam ( which impressed me greatly in 1964)
and Gide's L"Immoraliste (in English) which impressed me a few years later......

So much to read.So little time!

Hope your weather improves!

Reader Wil said...

The prayer is very impressive indeed. Thank you for sharing.Thanks for your comments. Yes I agree with you Blogfriends are very important I learn a lot from all of you.

Titus said...

I really like Donne, I think it's the rigour combined with the mysticism that particularly appeals.
Oh, this morning! It was a deluge here, and so dark! - but luckily we got the brighter afternoon too. I'm sure summer will start once the children go back to school.

Penny said...

A wonderful use of words with great imagery.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It is slightly comforting to know that the weather is contrary everywhere. Today is absolutely lovely - tomorrow is forecast to be wet.

Thank you for the comments.

Dave King said...

I remember a Welsh Minister we had once, praying dduring a very wet spell, and thanking God for his wisdom in sending both sunshine and rain, etc, etc and continuing: "There have been times recently, Oh Lord, when we have been tempted to doubt thy great wisdom!"