online: 3 april 2002

3 April 2002 'Dead is our Earth'

17:21 Outdoor cafe, few people left. I was too fatigued to come earlier. Hazy sunshine all day and for the last hour a police helicopter has been spreading disruptive sound as it circles and hovers over the heath. Surely we've no 'right' to disrupt nature with our technology and our economic goals... Something like that was said by Michael Hamburger in his introduction to his translations of the poems of Hölderlin*. Reading two of these poems** today, and trying to memorise them, changed my state of mind (and also of body!) - from feeling imprisoned by fatigue and circumstance to feeling able to rise above them.

Suzi Holzer seat, 'teacher and hitch hiker'. Someone has scraped the moss out of the words 'hitch hiker'. Sound of a woodpecker. As I walked here I felt liberated and happy again - and perhaps able to resume thinking and writing the forms of a new culture, my lifelong concern, disliking our inheritance. I feel that Suzi Holzer would have been an ally, as is the peace in this valley this evening, despite the sounds of aeroplanes. They are not loud and disruptive like the helicopter. It's twelve years since I started walking here and it was this valley that I found on that first morning and decided that it was my place. Since then I've taken to other places but I still like this one. Our brief lives on this planet - and occasionally above it or underground.

* Discussing Hölderlin's phrase 'Dead is our Earth' Michael Hamburger writes:

Even the spiritual and secular guardians of our civilization have had to concede that there is something wrong with a technology and an ethos that give human beings the right not only to rule the earth, sea and sky, but to damage them irreparably.
Friedrich Hölderlin, poems and fragments, translated by Michael Hamburger, third bilingual edition, Anvil Press Poetry, London 1994, page xlii.

** Just these first lines of Summer(page 703, chosen by chance, as was the book at a difficult moment) may give a flavour of these poems:
Still you can see the season, and the field
Of summer shows its mildness and its pride.
After reading the poems I wrote to myself: Somehow finding these, and his other last poems... and writing them out, changes my state of mind, putting all my concerns into the background, or on the floor, or in little boxes... I would like to memorise them but doubt if I can.

© 2002 john chris jones

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