Song of a Last Encounter by Anna Akhmatova

I walked without dragging my feet

but felt heavy at heart and frightened;

and I pulled onto my left hand

the glove that belonged to the right.

 

There seemed to be countless steps,

though I knew there were only three,

and an autumn voice from maples

whispered, ‘Die with me!

 

I have been undone by a fate

that is cheerless, flighty and cruel.’

I repied, ‘So have I, my dearest –

let me die one death with you…’

 

The song of a last encounter:

I glanced up at a dark wall:

from the bedroom indifferent candles

glowed yellow… And that was all.

 

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(1911, Tsarkoye Selo)

from Вечер (Evening, 1912)

translation by Robert Chandler


This is an alternative version of same poem translated as Song of the Last Meeting by D. M. Thomas.

The River by R. S. Thomas

And the cobbled water

Of the stream with the trout’s indelible

Shadows that winter

Has not erased – I walk it

Again under a clean

Sky with the fish, speckled like thrushes,

Silently singing among the weed’s

Branches.

I bring the heart

Not the mind to the interpretation

Of their music, letting the stream

Comb me, feeling it fresh

In my veins, revisiting the sources

That are as near now

As on the morning I set out from them.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from H’m (1972)

As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

 

by W.H. Auden (November 1937)

from Another Time (1940)

The Cool Night Air

Once more spring has passed and it is now summer. A cool breeze drifts past the window.
I think of childhood and how the days of summer did not end back then.
Now, when the light begins to fail, I want to go for a walk in the cool night air.

Where to? I do not know.
Until what time? I do not care.
If I left I would not return. What is there to return to?

People have dreams and make memories in the dark hours. Especially during the summer when the darkness is a soothing comfort not a sign of insensitive death.

As a child you think adults have freedom while you yourself have routines and people to answer to.
You answer to your parents, your teachers, you community.
When you are an adult you still have chains but now they are invisible.

The barbed wire of etiquette twisted around you harming you every time you allow others to treat you as an inferior for decorum’s sake.
The razor blades of financial worries giving you the death of a thousand cuts.
The pressure of self-inflicted moral restraints contorting who you were, are and will be.

Existentialism poses the question asking what exactly is stopping you from dropping everything and walking away. These tethers we bind ourselves with are not real, physical, things. But they are there all the same.
An adult answers to their employer, to their family, to their peers and to the government that cannot see them as anything other than a statistic to be checked off the page.

The night air soothes the skin. Caresses it like a woman placating the injured thinking this tactile moment of amity, invading the solitude of suffering, will ease the tormented and assure their soul.

I will walk away from the lights of mankind’s pointless struggle against the beautiful night but in the end, no matter what direction I walk in, eventually I will return to it.
The only other choice is to blindly walk off a cliff into the awaiting pitch black sea who will claim me for her own. A phone will ring at the chapel down the bottom of the slope and the Samaritans will be told it was too late but they will go home in the end and sleep peacefully.

I cannot go because I will not return. There is nowhere to go. I am ensnared by responsibilities others have foisted on me because of the choices I made and the indecisions I allowed. I am in a gilded cage of my own creation and soon the night will past. I will wait. Wait until it returns once again. The cycle will continue until autumn kills it once more, dressing the floor with its golden red entrails and we bow our heads during the winter songs where the world is washed away to muddied grey and white tones.

The air is stale in here. I can breathe – but only with a heavy heart. I will embrace the night and sleep. I know when I awake the light wll have been victorious over the night and the cycle of maturity will repeat once more.


I have the past few evenings wanted to go for a walk. I have not though. I don’t know where I would go. There is nowhere but to the town with its glittering lights and dirty covered paving. To sit in a bar and drink until the ring of the bell for last orders and the long, lonely, walk back home. Tomorrow is another day – a day like any other day.

Unplanned piece. Flawed but then it fills the blog until the next entry.

Like, Comment, Follow – Any of these are welcome.

Walk Around The Wales Coastal Path

I would like to one day walk the entire Wales Coastal Path route and see all its historical sites. If I could do so all in one go over a number of days, without having to go home and then ‘pick up’ as a designated check point, it would be the experience of a lifetime.

http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/?lang=en

wales-coast-path

What would I need for this? I am not 100% sure. I would think the following:

  • A fold away green poncho. I would wear this when it was raining or as a wind breaker.
  • A scarf for warmth or to use as a makeshift sling if need be.
  • A wide brimmed hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.
  • A full length, light weight, waterproof coat to deal with the Welsh weather.
  • A fleece for heat retention if the wind chill increases.
  • Hard wearing jeans – but comfortable clothing really is the key.
  • Suitable walking shoes or boots.
  • A flask with water to drink so I do not become dehydrated. Another small flash with something a bit stronger in it too.
  • Snacks – likely peanuts and biscuits for their high fat content to keep my energy levels up.
  • A first aid kit with the various necessities and maybe also a small book about common issues and how to patch them up until I can get medical aid.
  • A working mobile phone fully charged. Although no one would want to contact me so it would make no difference.
  • Change in order to use pay phones should the mobile phone fail. Some money nonetheless for food etc.
  • Perhaps a book or working knowledge of stop gaps where I can rest, possibly sleep safely and get food and drink. Not a map. Those restrict you and the coastal walk is basically ‘walk along the shoreline’ so it would be hard to get lost. If it became boring I just may set off in another direction entirely…
  • A sturdy backpack in which to carry these items.
  • A good camera to take photos on my journeys. Memories are important.

Wales_Walking_Map

I have most of these items ready and waiting already on a chair in the living room except the backpack, first aid kit (except plasters/band aids) and knowledge of the route. I just may set off in another direction entirely anyway… Adventure awaits!

I guess what I am saying is that at heart, without realising it before, I have always been Snufkin from the Moomins. Snufkin is also known in the original Swedish version as Snusmumrik[en] or Mumrik[en] and in Finnish as Nuuskamuikkunen or Muikkunen. When my hair grows too long it begins to look like his and I did learn to play the harmonica too a few years ago. I don’t place much importance on possessions (except books) and would rather not have a set goal in my travels but just go wandering wherever life took me though I would return to certain places seasonally. I suppose that is what is important – having somewhere to return to where people will welcome you no matter how long you spend apart. Snufkin wandered but he always came back to Moomin Valley eventually.


On a side note this song from the 1972 version makes Snukfin sound like a Wild West badass… Like ‘The Man With No Name’ wandering into a desolate town.

This isn’t a serious post… I just considered the matter and realised it. I like the concept of being a wanderer. It’s a romantic notion but the reality is a far harsher matter altogether. This following song I always enjoyed though obviously it is taken out of context here. It is one of my all-time favourite songs.

Bonus points if you realised the connection of Clint Eastwood who played the ‘Man With No Name’ and who starred alongside Lee Marvin, who sang ‘I Was Born Under A Wandering Star’, in ‘Paint Your Wagon’! Although I don’t say it at the end of every post, I assure you, comments and likes are always welcome. If you would like to follow me that would also be welcome obviously!