This afternoon I became interested in writing by and about Robert Browning but so far I've not understood his poetry** though I would like to. Perhaps he lived a kind of life I've not experienced?... After an hour or so I went to sleep and I'm only now returning to full wakefulness... I drink some water.
To know how to live is all.This is carved into a seat in memory of Kate Lunn, 1971-1997. I sat here and noted this a year or more ago. Today I was attracted by smoke - from an abandoned disposable barbecue. Two pieces of meat are still cooking amidst long grass and buttercups beneath a pale blue sky with long curved vapour trails that intersect. A plane flying high, but beneath them, reflects the sunlight. The ground is in shadow. And another plane, much nearer the ground, turns gently and quietly towards the airport.
As I walked this evening I saw the trees growing out of the earth as if powers or presences - not magical but sculptural, like beings, which of course they are - and perhaps everything is. I wonder if this habit of observing and noting what I see and hear is changing my perceptions - and thereby changing the things themselves? I expect so. Our perceptions are not fixed and neither is reality, though it looks so stable.
**lines selected by chance from Browning, Poetical Works, 1833-1864, edited by Ian Jack, Oxford University Press, London, Oxford, New York 1970, page 638, line 28, from 'The Last Ride Together', the last line of stanza vii):
What does it all mean, poet? Well,And, as I copy out these lines (with some understanding and affection but still somewhat baffled), I realise that the chance process has (as usual?) selected something apposite. Not only do these lines address my question ('what does it mean?') - they begin to answer it. And I begin to see that what Robert Browning was doing was to question even the most sublime things, his loves, while being aware, as if in a second self, of the certainty, the simplicity even, of things thought to be ordinary, or difficult... and of his poems... Is that it? Something like that.
Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
What we felt only; you expressed
You hold things beautiful the best,
_And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
'T is something, nay 't is much: but then,
Have you yourself what's best for men?
Are you - poor, sick, old ere your time -
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turned a rhyme?
_Sing, riding's a joy! For me, I ride.
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