For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Dove Descending

This poem was inspired by a recent reading of Rilke's The Dove and Lowell's Pigeons.

The Dove Descending

The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of incandescent terror
TS Eliot Little Gidding, Four Quartets

Eliot said the end of our exploring
will be to arrive at where we started
and realise our home was not so boring
before we panicked, packed our bags and parted.

And Rilke said a dove must fly the world
in order to appreciate the dovecote.
In storm and roaring wind is peace revealed.
The raging torrent rocks, then calms, the love boat.

Danger and distance, certainly,
and fear, and fear of fear itself,
delay departure, often indefinitely,
leave us like bookends on a dusty shelf.

We know the multi-coloured rainbow beckons
from edge of town, but our fenced-in backyard
requires attention. Drab suburbia threatens
but comforts also. It is always hard

to quit the friendly space one knows and loves,
to doubt the ones inhabiting that space.
Yet constantly a restless heart outgrows,
outflies the limits of this time and place.

Yes, all of us are arrows in the dark
speeding from God-knows-where to God-knows-where,
unsure of making a true mark on earth,
falling unsteadily through endless air,

skimming the ocean till we disappear
into the fire of the sinking sun,
all fight extinguished, as the Temeraire,
all flight unfeathered, Icarus undone.

In pieces, we reform to our true shape.
In dust, we scatter like primeval seeds.
Divorced from cells of coelacanth and ape,
no more embodied by our thoughts and deeds,

alone – no myth or metaphor or art –
and open to the stars which are our home,
we still the beating of our weary heart,
finding at last the place that we’ve come from.

2 comments:

dritanje said...

« It is always hard
to quit the friendly space one knows and loves, »

this reminds me of something I read recently by Lawrence Durrell in his 'Sicilian Carousel'
'It is always sad leaving home ….All my journeys start with a kind of anxious pang of doubt '
and I copied it because I could relate so much to that feeling which in my case is often more than 'a pang'!! There is this resistance, always, to going which almost always, turns into something joyous once I'm on my way.

This is a marvellous poem Robert, and I especially like the ending, seeing the stars as our true home, which I feel. Yet this one here, our temporary one on earth, offers so much to be grateful for. Often, as you say, all the more sweetly appreciated once we're far from it, or in returning after a long journey.

The Solitary Walker said...

I understand you, Morelle. Thanks for your kind comments on my poem.