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

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Elegiac




This blog seems to be changing a little - or evolving, as someone has commented. Well, that's life for you. Never stays in the same place for more than a minute, does it? The Solitary Walker has travelled far and wide - from the fells of the Lake District to the dales of Derbyshire, from the ancient volcanic landscape of the French Auvergne to the gruelling flat plains of the Spanish Meseta, from the Celtic seaboard of Wales to the seafood smorgasbord of Norfolk - to arrive back in his own village once more. Since then he's been taking more of an interior journey. Didn't T. S. Eliot say in Four Quartets that ...the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time?

The aim of this long-winded preamble is simply to state this: in a blog which is, after all, called 'The Solitary Walker', there have been very few accounts of solitary walks of late. Yep, it's an undeniable fact. Guilty - as charged by myself. Mitigating circumstances? Well, I've been doing a lot of 'imaginative walking', your Honour. Pathetic. No excuse.

However we did enjoy a walk round the village this evening, which was lovely, and probably timely - as the weather will apparently get colder and rainier later in the week. Two greenfinches and a pied wagtail were lined up on a telephone wire. This combination was a first for me, at any rate. And scores of swifts screamed round the gable-ends and flitted skywards like aerial crossbows. As usual we ended up in the churchyard (I won't be morbid and say that we all end up there sooner or later) where I took some photos; and then Thomas Gray's poem, Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard, came to mind. I know it's the wrong time of year for the 'ploughman' - but it won't be long before he's turning the soil once more...

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

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