6 November 2020

I had a dream.....

Darkness Visible…..


Paradise Lost 


Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky 

With hideous ruin and combustion down 

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell 

In adamantine chains and penal fire, 

Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.


Book 1: Lines 44-49


Sometime early on Wednesday morning, November 4th 2020, I woke with a start, frightened.  I had been dreaming, which for me is rare, or, at least, to remember my dreams is rare.  And I woke suddenly breaking off a three dimensional, vivid but very short dream.


It went like this:  I was looking up to a platform, high atop a steel structure.  On the platform stood a man, dressed in light tan trousers, a pale green sort of puffer jacket, like American flyers sometimes wear. His back was toward me, but I could see longish fair hair falling from under his dozer cap.  The platform was reached by a vertical ladder, and it must have been about thirty metres high.  There was no safety net, and the man was alone.  In front of him, sloping up at around ten degrees, was a wire, maybe about four metres long.  He seemed confident, and started to walk up the wire, his small hands outstretched in balance.  As he gained height, however, he began to falter, and his feet, close in front of each other, trembled a little, then switched several times from side to side, while his body remained upright, but his head looked down.  He grabbed out for a long horizontal pole in front of him, which was cradled at the end of the wire, but it slipped from his hands, and fell away.  His feet and the wire went quickly to the right, and he slipped, catching the wire under his arms as his red hat disappeared.  He seemed to shout, but I couldn’t hear.  He swung awkwardly with his head just above the wire, then slipped down towards the platform, his legs flailing under him above the void.  Somehow, he managed to bring his feet onto the edge of the platform and to hoist his body up, then he was lying flat on his back, his head off the end of the plank, his face toward me, upside down, his mouth open, his hair flopping in the air, his arms flung out on each side, his palms open.  He was barely balanced, the plank seemed narrow, and I knew he was about to roll and fall.


It was a scary dream, and I had no idea where it sprang from.  I woke disturbed, frightened of the fall, puzzled by this strangely vivid image of a man on his back about to slip off a very tall steel structure with no safety harness, no net, no guides, no friends.


I carried this dream around all Wednesday, and all Thursday, without seeing the blindingly obvious. 


Then, this morning, Friday, 6 November 2020, we went for a walk near Redbourn.  It was a misty, cold, autumn morning, and we walked along a muddy path, under oaks, and under a strangely cloudy sky.  Then, as we followed a lane near a place called Nirvana, I heard a faint hissing, crackling sound, or perhaps a sort of buzz, like a hive of bees in the distance.  Looking up, I saw power lines and a great steel pylon, the cables rising up to the peak at an angle of about ten degrees.  This was the high wire, the tall structure.  This was the height of power.  


And the man had achieved greatness, and dominance, and then, as he approached the zenith, with the possibility of sliding down the other side into the future, he fell back, like Lucifer, or Satan….


Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven…..


Or Macbeth, whose vaulting ambition…. o'erleaps itself and falls on th' other


Or perhaps like many others, too numerous to name, where ambition and pride precede an ignominious fall.  Politicians, warriors, businessmen and businesswomen, CEOs, tribal leaders and stars, brought down by some tragic flaw.


And life, as we know it, goes on, without a blip.  Careless of the flailing legs that momentarily stick out from the sea as the body sinks.  While the ship sails on, and the ploughman continues his daily toil.


Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,

With hideous ruin and combustion, down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.

Nine times the space that measures day and night

To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew,

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,

Confounded, though immortal. But his doom

Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought

Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes,

That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,

Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.

At once, as far as Angels ken, he views

The dismal situation waste and wild.


John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1

Thank you.  You have a lovely, happy time.....


Dream on......

1 comment:

  1. In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.