online: 16 january 2006
modified: 16 january 2006

15 january 2006 forests, gardens and city walls

14:53 Vale of Health pond. Someone vacates this seat (one of my favourites) as i (and a dozen or so seagulls) arrive... i walked here through this little village (or collective retreat) i was looking at the house where Tagore once lived. Having today just written about him* i looked with new interest at the house and copied out an inscription from a blue plaque with white lettering:

London County Council




stayed here in

'3, Villas on the Heath' is written in gold letters on the glass above the door of the house where he stayed.

On the other side of the pond, half-hidden by plants growing on the floating island, is a small encampment of several men and children gathered round a fisherman's bivouac - a dark green tent in which people stay all day (and perhaps all night?) to fish with rods fixed next to the water and sometimes with hightech sensors to detect fish pulling on the lines...

Now something alarms the seagulls and they rise 'as one' and circle together over the pond before returning to float on the water surface...

and now they are flying again, more individually this time, but i suppose with some signals, imperceptible to me, to enable them to fly as a recognisable group with collective control of where and when they rise and turn and descend and re-assemble on the water...

...if birds can do this (organise without hierarchy) surely people can also?

...on the next seat, in memory of Andrea Royan and her brother, was a bouquet of flowers and a message from friends who still miss her (she died in 1996). it was getting dark i walked to a bookshop where i spent some time reading the introductions, by different editors, to various editions of John Milton's Paradise Lost... just now i am fascinated, yet repelled, by the Garden of Eden, and even by all gardens... i suppose our very different interpretations of this vast and formidable poem reveal more of ourselves, and of our time, than of the poem or the poet!

*I was writing of Tagore's idea that ancient Greek thought (and European thought that followed from it) was written indoors within a city wall and thus divides man from nature (and from himself) whereas the early Indian sages, living in forests, were involved in the complexity of nature and so wrote not divisively but connectively... (my paraphrase) i suppose that Tagore, in staying here when in England, was indeed getting as near to forest living as he could... i wonder if he wrote anything while here and if it still exists.

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