Friday, June 20, 2014

The corncrake cried too

A few years ago, a cold and foggy December morning found me walking back from an early medical appointment. The streets were quiet. A low winter sun rose behind a huge old beech tree towering over a scrubby piece of land. Shafts of brilliant hazy sunlight gleamed through icy fog and leafless black branches to create a scene of the most extraordinary beauty.

I stopped for a moment, wished I had a camera but walked on because there is no capturing these moments, no way to possess them.

Does the beauty of the fields delight you? Surely, yes; it is a beautiful part of a right beautiful whole. Fitly indeed do we at times enjoy the serene calm of the sea, admire the sky, the stars, the moon, the sun. Yet is any of these thy concern? Dost thou venture to boast thyself of the beauty of any one of them? Art thou decked with spring's flowers? is it thy fertility that swelleth in the fruits of autumn? Why art thou moved with empty transports? why embracest thou an alien excellence as thine own? Never will fortune make thine that which the nature of things has excluded from thy ownership.
Boethius - The Consolation of Philosophy (around 524 AD)

More recently.
The street outside falls strangely silent under a brilliant summer sun. Nothing moves, no sounds, not even birds. Breathless and timeless - even the clock seems to have slowed its relentless tick. A curiously beautiful stillness but only for a moment.  A car approaches. The spell is broken.

Natural beauty is like that – impossible to grasp beyond momentary impressions. Impossible to own or take away its alien excellence. 

Then a corncrake began to call in the meadow across the river, a strange, dispassionate sound, that made him feel not quite satisfied, not quite sure. It was not all achieved. The moon, in her white and naked candour, was beyond him. He felt a little numbness, as one who has gloves on. He could not feel that clear, clean moon. There was something betwixt him and her, as if he had gloves on. Yet he ached for the clear touch, skin to skin — even of the moonlight. He wanted a further purity, a newer cleanness and nakedness. The corncrake cried too.
D.H. Lawrence – The Overtone (1933)


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Sackerson said...

That was beautiful and yes, you can't seize the moment. Lovely quotations - Lawrence at his best when off the subject of sex.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - yes, although I'm not sure if Lawrence ever quite cleared his mind of sex, but he was at his best when it was in the background.