A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Lie Down And Listen To The Rain

Leaving Combe Martin in the rain ...

Looking back on Water Mouth in the rain ...

The sun shone briefly over Ilfracombe ...

And in Torrs Park a brisk wind was blowing ...

This is Croyde Bay beyond Woolacombe, where I camped on a 'Holiday Park' campsite for the night. It was pretty dire. I could find nothing to eat. There was no hot water in the Portakabin showers. Though the rain held off momentarily ...

Here's a poem about rain, taken from one of my treasured poetry collections, The Green Book Of Poetry, edited by Ivo Mosley. This poetry anthology, published in 1993, is little known, and I love it. It's a book I used to sell when working as a freelance publishers' sales agent in the 1990s. Mosley visited Japan back in the 1970s. He then read Japanese at Oxford (there are lots of Far Eastern poems in the book) and subsequently became a stoneware ceramicist in Devon. Its a constantly surprising collection - don't look in here for all your usual anthologized pieces - and each poem is linked by Mosley's own perceptive, humanistic, eco-aware commentary. Although this poem from the anthology describes the rains of spring, it was easy for me to identify with the same feeling during the rains of Devonshire's late summer...

Third Day Of The Third Month, Rain: Written To Dispel My Depression

I go out the door; it's raining, but I can't go back now,
so I borrow someone's bamboo hat to wear for a while.
Spring has tinted ten thousand leaves, and I didn't even know;
the clouds have taken a thousand mountains and swept them away.

I look for flowers in the village
but they hide from me on purpose;
and even when I find them, they only sadden me.
It would be better to lie down
and listen to the rain
in the spring mountains -
a quick downpour, then a few scattered drops.

As spring dies, the scenes grow more beautiful:
the poet will remember them for the rest of his life.
Level fields overflowing with green -
wheat in every village;
soft waters reflecting red -
flowers on every bank.

YUNG WAN-LI, Chinese, 1127-1206, translated by J CHAVES


am said...

Thank you for this, Solitary Walker.

I'm moved and astonished by the beauty of this part of England, seen so intimately in its changing moods through your eyes and heart as you walk.

Bonnie said...

My goodness Robert, as I read the words it seemed as if you were the writer. Beautiful fit with the photographs and description of this leg of your journey.

Hope you are feeling better.

Tim Shey said...

You have some really beautiful photographs on your blog.

George said...

Another wonderful posting, Robert, and the beautiful photos, especially the ones of Water Mouth and Infracombe, suggest that there is nothing wrong with either your camera or your eye. Lovely, lovely, lovely — and I relish the thought being able to walk those paths one day.

The poem is also wonderful, and I agree with Bonnie;s comment; the poem seems beautifully paired with this part of your walk, as well as your own soul.

fireweed meadow said...

I've always written off the North Devon part of the walk, thinking it would be too bleak, windswept and grey. This post has done nothing to convert me. ut it does look awfully green compared to my memory of the place, which makes me realize I am biased against the North Devon coast because I've been there three times in January! On each occasion, for reasons inexplicable to me, my friend decided it was necessary to "visit the seaside" which meant sheltering behind a grassy outcropping in the rain drinking tea sprinkled liberally with blowing sand. Thankfully, she's since moved to South Devon, a place I find alltogether less dire with much better food available as well!

gleaner said...

A blog moment - you have written about Rebecca Solnit on your blog and recommended her books which I have registered in my long list of writers to explore. Yesterday I found a blog called "hermit's thatch" which I very much liked and on my second random click I was reading an entry entitled "getting lost" which was about Solnit's book "A Field Guide to Getting Lost". It ended with a Thoreau quote "lose the whole world, get lost in it, and find your soul". Wow, I'd only just read about being lost (can't remember if it was your blog) and looked forward to explore the concept more.
So then I did a bit of a google search of Solnit and found an article she wrote about the crimes of the media when reporting people who take food from stores in the aftermath of disasters such as Haiti as "looters" and that this word should be banned! Wow again, the "institional overzealousness about protection of property" whilst people are starving and the use of this word has outraged me too! I know I've found a very favourite writer and I haven't yet read her books.
So, the collision of your blog, Solnit, Thoreau, getting lost and looting I catalogue under the title of meaningful coincidences.
I had to share this story and at the moment I can't link it to this particular post :)

ksam said...

Comb Martin has the most amazing greens and textures, I almost want to reach out and touch it, and then Ilfracombe has the most amazing blues greens and depths. Terrific pics and the first line of the poem was my favorite. Very much my first camino, when it rained and poured every day...so no going back in! Thanks!!

The Solitary Walker said...

Mnay thanks to everyone who commented here. I always enjoy reading your comments, and it's kind of you all to take the trouble.

Fireweed - even greyer and bleaker in my next post! But lots of lovely green too. Try visiting in, well, anytime but January, and you could be amazed! In the springtime, with all the wildflowers, you might even fall in love with it. Tea with sand? Not a great combination! I found good food in certain places all along the path - but it could be difficult to track down. Later I'd like to do a post about the pub and restaurant food along the trail...

And Bella - what a great story! I find blogworld so full of 'meaningful coincidences' and synchronicities that it almost becomes the norm. Thanks so much for sharing this! And if I've encouraged anyone to read Rebecca Solnit, I feel very happy.

Karin - thanks for your continued and infectious enthusiasm! That first line is my favourite too (plus the second line). You've just got to get out there, whatever the weather!