Sunday, 14 February 2016

Afterglow - a Searching Soul

Time it was when I was young and the Downs above Dunstable were my playground. Blows Downs were my backyard - with their cows, ridges and enigmatic remains of Beaker huts on the top that were blamed on Cromwell. While Dunstable Downs gave great views to the West - where the sun would sink over the Aylesbury Vale. You didn't bother about going up Dunstable Downs in the early morning, except at Easter when the sun would rise over the towers of Hockwell Ring. But looking west from the edge of Pascombe Pit - with the Five Knolls a site of genuinely unquiet sleep for the sleepers (who were excavated by the Victorians) you could see Edelsborough Church - distinct and clear against a green patchwork and a pink sunset sky.

All the Vale skies come down to the place where sky meets earth, and earth, sky - somewhere way across the Vale over towards Tring, where Bucks and Herts meet and kiss, and dream as the sun's last rays shine on Beds. And I think of the character Gwylim in Dylan Thomas's short story "Peaches", who converted thoughts of carnal love into religious verse, and I listen to the sublimity that is Genesis's best every love song, "Afterglow".
And I would search everywhere
Just to hear your call,
And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.

And like the young poet (not a dog in this portrait) we hear the song and ask - is Tony Banks writing about a woman? About God? Of some untouchable thing we cannot quite touch? And we put D. Thomas to one side and think of another writer's poetic imagination - CS Lewis's concept of "joy".

We walk upon stranger roads than that to the Downs - see the dust dance in a sunbeam - and search just to hear a call. Until, to skip between poets once again (and what could inspire to poetry more than this piece of absolute bliss and yearning?)
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.  (Eliot: "Little Gidding")
Happy Valentine's Day, by the way.


  1. Thank you for the memories. As a child, Edlesborough church and Ivinghoe beacon were the view from my window. I look forward to a future musing on the orange rolling...

    1. Like this, you mean? (NB the link to the picture no longer works - though others on the web still do).

    2. Ah yes, just like that. Should have known you'd be ahead of me...


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl