20 March 2021

Every Grain of Sand


Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.....

The North Norfolk Coast near Holme-next-the-sea

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

A Dunnock

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

Time passes.  Whether high on Everest or low on the Dead Sea, time passes.  From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, (if the women don't get you the liquor must....)

This is not morbidity.  We come from nothing, and to nothing we go.  

Or, perhaps, at least, so I believe.....

Brent Geese

The phone rang in my car.  I was about to park but was on hands free.  He's been taken to hospital.....  He will probably be back home this afternoon.  I just thought you should know.....

You never know when the reaper will reap.  We must live this day like no other.  Every day is precious, for it won't come again.  

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

All Saints, Fring

I could pick bones with Mr Dylan.  Though he would indubitably better me at the game. But I was never convinced by his Christianity..... I was never really convinced by Christianity myself, and for someone to embrace it as a whole new discovery never rang true with me.

I was never convinced by his harmonica playing, either.  While Donovan may have made his mouth organ sound like someone blowing soup through a comb....  I think Bob Dylan was always a little random, a little loose - just as Larry Adler was too tight, too smart.  Sometimes it is painful to play Mr Dylan's finest pieces now just because of the harmonica breaks (Has anybody got an E harmonica?)  If you really want to hear the blues harp as it was intended to be, seek out Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alex - Rice - Miller) and his recording of Help Me.....   [Or Folk Festival of the Blues, 1963, Bring It On Home]

But I digress..... (as one is wont to do these days) and I should thank (sic) more clearly.  

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.....

When we were young, and carefree, we didn't expect life to become harder.  Being young was hard enough.  Til death us do part was a joke.  If we married we would marry for enduring love and good time, with either partner as grateful as the other.  

Plough that furrow.  Harrow that field.....

And the church was no help.  At least not to me.  If God had a place in the world, it was a place in our culture.  Informing characters and plots in fiction.  Guiding the moral decisions of law-makers and teachers.  God was not someone close to me.....

St Mary, Titchwell

But now.....  Now the  churches are empty, their shells protecting forgotten histories, holding echoes of hymns carelessly sung, or prayers vainly directed to selves long buried in the grounds around.....

All Saints, Bircham Newton

Yes, now.  Like Faustus I regret my insouciance. Forgive me my blasphemy, God?  Take me back?  Let me be untouched by the rigours of uncertainty.  Leave me untouched by the pains of death?

Let my wife alone.....

All Saints, Bircham Newton

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay

And then the Church reminds us of conflict and plague.  Deaths unexpected.  Youths, of various nations, brought suddenly to the ground.....

St Mary, Great Bircham

But the sky still surrounds us, unsettled and uncertain.....

And the crowning virus appears where you  may not expect it....

So we walk the shores with the wind and the waves......

The Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, Brancaster

Disturbing the one-legged Oyster Catchers.....

And tripping over the remnants of wars long past.....

Remains of a military tracked vehicle on the beach at Titchwell

The Avocet's name is unfortunate, perhaps.  It reminds me of 'Exocet' and all that that entails.  But I marvel still at the sleek irregularity as one slips past me at Titchwell.  Such a razor sharp  outfit.  Such a confident flight.....

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

Reedbeds and Marsh at Brancaster

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

The beach at Hunstanton


 © 1981 by Special Rider Music

6 March 2021

You are still kind....

Let it go....

It is a great thing to have friends. Friends bring wealth in their extended network of experience beyond our own.

A friend of mine had the fortune to be taught by William Empson, at the University of Sheffield. Empson had his 'foibles', shall we say?  One moment he could be in the lecture theatre fumbling with his copy of King Lear, before mumbling, Well what can one say about King Lear? and leaving the stage.  Another moment he could be in the Star and Garter, decorating the bar with a technicolour yawn.

I interpose a picture of a male Stonechat, just to clear the air.....

To return, refreshed, to my theme....  I never encountered the aforesaid Empson, but through my friend I live in his shadow.  Just recently, when recounting the effects of aggressive chemotherapy, he reminded me of the Professor's poetry, in particular indicating his translation of the Buddha's Fire Sermon as introduction to his Collected Poems..... (See below for Land Art, on Courtyard Farm, Ringstead, nothing to do with the Fire Sermon, except that......)

As everyone understands, these are unusual times.  Everyone has their particular difficulties - whether it is isolation and loneliness, or the weight of coping with poverty and children, or the agony of fatal disease....

And there is no guarantee that things will get better for everyone.....

Once upon a time a person could rely upon their church, such as this lovely building in Ringstead:

With its quiet Madonna and child contemplating an unusually large glass of patent remedy....

Though nowadays things are not so straightforward.  Here a Knot seems to chase a Ringed Plover...... Why?

And here a stew of Oystercatchers seem relatively unmoved by the furious flight of a tangle of Knot.....

Each to his own.

Let it go


It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.

The more things happen to you the more you can’t

Tell or remember even what they were.


The contradictions cover such a range.

The talk would talk and go so far aslant.

You don’t want madhouse and the whole thing there.

William Empson

Across the Wash murmurations of waders blur into the greyness:

While above Dersingham Bog I spy four buzzards in courtship (though here you can only distinguish two as dots.....)

It is the pain, it is the pain endures. 

Your chemic beauty burned my muscles through. 

Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

Overhead a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor burns money as if it has no meaning, decimating peace both here and beyond....

The infection slept (custom or changes inures) 

And when pain’s secondary phase was due 

Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

And Amanda and I walk quietly through the woods of Wild Ken Hill:

And walk until the muddy waters become impassable.....

My stare drank deep beauty that still allures. 

My heart pumps yet the poison draught of you. 

Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

As I keep telling myself, we all have our crosses to bear.  There will always be someone whose suffering is worse than mine.....  But what does that tell us?  Dukkha, the noble truth of suffering, afflicts us all, unless we achieve Nirvana.....  And to reach that is not a stroll on the beach.....

And while there are signposts on the way,

The way can be long, and lonely, and empty......

And confused......

You are still kind whom the same shape immures. 

Kind and beyond adieu. We miss our cue. 

It is the pain, it is the pain endures. 

Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.


Missing Dates

William Empson

When he is free he knows that he is free, that rebirth is at an end, that virtue is accomplished, that duty is done, and that there is no more returning to this world; thus he knows.

William Empson
The Fire Sermon

From Aubade

But as to risings, I can tell you why.

It is on contradiction that they grow.

It seemed the best thing to be up and go.

Up was the heartening and strong reply.

The heart of standing is we cannot fly.

William Empson